GCO celebrates movie composers

Published: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 12:24 a.m.
Gradually, sustenance has been building for the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra, a welcome reprieve from the difficult period seven years ago when efforts to expand to a symphonic ensemble nearly plunged it into non-existence.
One of the most satisfying elements of that recovery has been the continuation of the annual family concert, a youth-oriented program that includes the chance for kids of all ages to take a "walk through the orchestra" while the musicians are playing.
Celebrating "Music From the Movies," this year's edition runs Sunday at University Auditorium. A major sponsor for this event has been the Medical Manager Research and Development Corp., which has expanded its support this year for GCO's overall efforts.
The roster of film music for Sunday's program includes selections from familiar and not-so-well-known movies, composed by masters in the field. John Williams' music from "Star Wars" will ring with the familiar, while the "Red Pony Suite," written by American icon Aaron Copland, comes from the 1940s. Also scheduled is Erich Korngold's music for "Robin Hood" and Sergei Prokofiev's for "Lieutenant Kije," both from the 1930s.
One item that might need some explanation is the "Ride of the Valkyries" from Wagner's opera "Die Walkure."
But if anyone can cover that task well, it's GCO conductor Evans Haile.
Having the ability to communicate effectively with the audience, and the public in general, is an increasingly important skill for classical musicians, as was brought out in a National Public Radio commentary last weekend. At Miami's New World Symphony organization, the young members are "encouraged to develop their ... community outreach skills. The public role is one that's more or less required of classical musicians these days."
Haile very much feels this identification with the community.
He sees GCO as a "bridge" between the University of Florida Performing Arts series and the community, "especially in that we are presenting the standard classical repertoire for a public largely unfamiliar with it - at affordable prices," Haile said during a recent phone interview.
And, to put it mildly, he doesn't think much of the Tampa-based Florida Orchestra's new Gainesville series and feels that, for an area of this size, "support should start at home, first and foremost."
"All things being equal, I believe you give to the local (arts) organizations first. That is the foundation that defines a city," he said.
At present, Haile feels such support is improving; in particular, GCO cited a recent $2,500 grant from Publix.
GCO Board Chairwoman Lispbeth Gets stressed the importance of in-kind support, beginning with office space provided by Santa Fe Community College in downtown Gainesville. Also significant was the inclusion of GCO's University Auditorium concert series in the UF Performing Arts organization's season brochure.
Gets noted some important new activity is on the horizon. An annual grant from SFCC - part of the new partnership with the college - will allow GCO to present concerts in outlying areas such as Starke and Archer. Another grant, from Altrusa, will allow individual GCO musicians to provide introductory sessions in nearby rural schools.
And, we're reminded, the city of Gainesville continues its backing by providing the Downtown Community Plaza for the annual Pops on the Plaza shindig, slated for April.
In the meantime, GCO's foray into movie music starts at 4 p.m. Call (352) 336-5448 for ticket information.
David Grundy can be reached at dmgrundy@aol.com.

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