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Orchestra of Northern New York prepares for a year of “Artistry and Passion”


The theme selected for the 26th season of the Orchestra of Northern New York, “Artistry and Passion,” sums up the feelings of Kenneth B. Andrews as he prepares to pick up the baton to direct another season.

“This is the first season of the next 25, is the way I looked at it when planning,” said Mr. Andrews, the orchestra’s founder and music director. “Every concert this season has something special about it.”

Mr. Andrews’s passion for the orchestra is shared by others in the north country who appreciate its cultural significance.

“We’re still the only professional orchestra that operates throughout the year between Rochester and Burlington and Ottawa and Syracuse,” Mr. Andrews said.

The North Country Arts Council has invited the orchestra back to celebrate Independence Day at Thompson Park in 2014. The orchestra’s support from the Northern New York Community Foundation continues for the new season with a $17,000 grant — a $2,000 increase over last year.

Mr. Andrews said the orchestra’s board and volunteers are also passionate about it.

“Not only do we have a good organization that works hard to keep us going, we have an overhead that’s as low as possible and we keep trying to offer listeners something fresh.”

The season opens Sunday at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall with a “Mostly Mozart” program performed by the orchestra in conjunction with the final round of the Julia Crane International Piano Competition. Since 2002, the competition at Crane School of Music has attracted young pianists from around the world. Twelve musicians, age 14 to 18, will compete this year.

The three finalists in the piano competition, which begins Friday, will perform in the first part of the orchestra’s Sunday concert, which begins at 3:30 p.m. The judges will make their decision at intermission and the winner will be announced at the concert’s conclusion. Contestants will perform works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

First prize is $3,000, second prize is $2,000 and third prize is $1,000.

The orchestra will perform Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in D Major, the last of the composer’s London Symphonies, during the concert’s second half.

Haydn, an Austrian composer, was an innovator who structured the modern symphony and invented the string quartet, Mr. Andrews said.

“Beethoven and Mozart were composers who perfected those ideas,” he said.

Haydn’s Symphony No. 104, Mr. Andrews said, “shows where Beethoven was to go.”

The orchestra will perform six other concerts during its 2013-14 season. Five of them will be in Watertown and Potsdam. The Holiday Festival concert will be performed in Watertown, Potsdam and Massena.

The lineup:

n “Autumn Serenade”

Oct. 26 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall

Oct. 27 in Watertown at First Presbyterian Church

The autumn concert will feature the orchestra’s strings section. A highlight will be Edward Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings, Opus 20.”

“For string players, it’s one of their favorite works to play,” Mr. Andrews said.

Also featured will be Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.”

Mr. Williams (1872-1958), a British composer, based the work on a piece by Tallis, a 16th century English composer.

“I think it’s one of the most beautiful works written in the 20th century,” Mr. Andrews said.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of English composer Benjamin Britton, the orchestra will perform his deceptively named “Simple Symphony.”

“String players have always nicknamed it the ‘not-so-simple symphony’ because it’s actually a very difficult work,” Mr. Andrews said.

The concert concludes with a string orchestra version of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Presto” from his octet.

“It’s an absolute whirlwind,” Mr. Andrews said.

n “A Holiday Festival”

Dec. 13 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall

Dec. 14 at Dulles State Office Building, Watertown

Dec. 15 at Massena Central High School

The orchestra will continue a collaboration it began last year with the Potsdam Community Chorus and Northern Choral Society. Singers from both groups, combined, will perform at the Potsdam and Watertown holiday concerts.

The Massena concert will feature the 135-member Massena High School Chorus, continuing a partnership also began last year.

Classics will include “White Christmas,” “Nutcracker Suite” and “Sleigh Ride.” The audience will be asked to join in singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from “Messiah.”

n “Sound the Trumpet”

Feb. 8 at Watertown’s Trinity Episcopal Church

Feb. 9 at Potsdam’s St. Mary’s Church

This is the orchestra’s annual baroque concert. Mr. Andrews selected works by English composer Henry Purcell, German composer George Frideric Handel and favorites such as Jeremiah Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary.”

The period ranged from about 1600 to around 1750 and was characterized by highly embellished melodies.

Soloists will be soprano Deborah P. Massell, associate professor of voice at Crane School of Music and Crane professor John R. Ellis on trumpet.

n “A Symphony of Dinosaurs”

March 8 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall

This concert, part of the Community Performance Series, features “Tyrannosaurus Sue: A Crestaceous Concerto” by Bruce Adolf.

Tyrannosaurus Sue is a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton found in 1990 on a ranch in South Dakota.

“It takes a musical journey about her life, from birth to death and her mingling with other dinosaurs,” Mr. Andrews said of Mr. Adolf’s creation. “It’s also an educational piece because it refers to aspects of music. There’s a workbook that we’ll be using with it.” The concert is geared for students in grades K-6.

n “Romantic Giants”

April 26 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall

April 27 at a Watertown venue to be announced

This concert will feature the world premiere of the “Silver Overture” composed by Harold Levin as a gift to Mr. Andrews and the ONNY. Mr. Levin is the principal viola player for the orchestra.

Another highlight will be Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff’s “Concerto No. 2.”

“This is the one that people flock to hear all over the world,” Mr. Andrews said.

The piano soloists will be Paul Wyse, associate professor of piano at Crane.

n “Bravo Broadway!”

July 2 at Thompson Park in Watertown

July 3 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall

This July 4th celebration will honor veterans, salute the 70th anniversary of D-Day and take a tour of Broadway with selections from “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Camelot,” “Les Miserables” and others.

the details
WHAT: The 2013-14 season of the Orchestra of Northern New York
WHEN: The “Artistry and Passion” season begins with a “Mostly Mozart” program at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall and concludes with “Bravo Broadway!” on July 2 in Watertown and July 3 in Potsdam.
COST: Season tickets are available. They are $124 for the Potsdam series and $70 for the Watertown series and $112 and $64, respectively, for senior citizens. For students 13 and older, the cost is $56 for the Potsdam series and $32 for Watertown. Tickets for children 12 and under are free.
Single tickets for the concerts are $22 for adults, $20 for senior citizens, $10 for students and free for children 12 and under.
OF NOTE: The orchestra’s annual holiday brunch is at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 8 at SUNY Potsdam’s Cheel Center. Tickets are $30. The orchestra’s Bach’s Lunch is at noon Feb. 9 at Maxfield’s Restaurant, Potsdam. Tickets are $35.
To purchase tickets and for more information, go to
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