Silver anniversary


Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

To paraphrase the National Endowment for the Arts, a great community deserves great art. And, as Gainesville Chamber Orchestra Musical Director Evans Haile puts it, civilizations, cities and communities are remembered for their culture.

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Evans Haile, musical director of the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra, will conduct Friday's silver anniversary performance.

Aaron Daye/The Gainesville Sun

Facts

25th Anniversary Gala Concert

What: Gainesville Chamber Orchestra's silver anniversary concert features music from Broadway to Tchaikovsky.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: University Auditorium, UF campus; shuttle service will be provided from the parking garage to the University Auditorium on the eve of the Gala.

Tickets: $35, $30 seniors, $15 students (392-2787)

For 25 years, the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra has performed for area audiences, and on Friday at the University Auditorium, it will commemorate its 25th Anniversary season with a special concert of acclaimed music.

Billed as the orchestra's 25th Anniversary Gala Concert, Friday's performance is a celebration of the orchestra's commitment to the cultural values of the Gainesville area, Haile says.

"The musicians in the GCO are prominent and integral members of the community. And this concert is a great celebration of who we are and represents what the orchestra is about," he says.

Along with being Gainesville's resident professional orchestra for a quarter century, the chamber orchestra is also the only such ensemble in Florida to have its concerts regularly broadcast throughout the state on WUFT-FM, Classic 89.

The orchestra provides an annual Masterworks Series, the free and ever-popular Pops on the Plaza concerts, a chamber music series and family and children's concerts. In addition, the orchestra has hosted numerous guest artists, including last season when musical legend Leon Fleisher conducted and performed with the orchestra.

Friday's concert celebrates the chamber orchestra's past and looks to the future with a showcase of eclectic music from symphonic works to Broadway. It also features a guest solo vocalist and the premiere of a new work by a local composer.

As conductor, Haile will lead the orchestra in Tchaikovsky's monumental "Symphony No. 5 in E minor." Written in 1888, the symphony is an orchestral favorite and alludes to themes of fate, doubt and reproach with extensive solo passages for woodwinds and French horn.

In works featured from Broadway, the orchestra will perform Leonard Bernstein's "Overture to Candide," one of the composer's most popular pieces, as well as a revue of Broadway showstoppers by Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Vernon Duke, all featuring vocalist guest artist Klea Blackhurst.

Best known for her shows "Everything the Traffic Will Allow: The Songs and Sass of Ethel Merman" and the more recent "Autumn in New York: Vernon Duke's Broadway," Blackhurst has performed for audiences nationwide and abroad, from New York's Carnegie Hall to London's Royal Albert Hall. Her credits also include appearances on "The Caroline Rhea Show," "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," "Sesame Street" and "A Prairie Home Companion."

Friday's program also features the premiere of a new work by Gainesville composer Steven Landis. Commissioned for the orchestra's 25th anniversary season, Landis' composition, "Through the Gate of Horn," is a "musical journey undertaken to experience the fruition of a dream," Landis says. Based on a passage from Homer's Odyssey, the piece "does not represent only the dream of one person, but all dreams by all people," Landis says.

Solo passages for piccolo and trumpet are featured in the work's opening and not only evoke the wonderment and mystery of the musical journey, but highlight two longtime members of the orchestra, Melissa Lucia and Joe Jamerson.

Landis is the chamber orchestra's principal bassist and has played with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra and the Orlando Philharmonic. Landis' orchestral piece, "Postcards," is the title work of the Chamber Orchestra's recently released two-CD release, and he also composed music for two recent off-off-Broadway plays, "The War Uncensored" and "The Dershowitz Protocol."

The chamber orchestra's history includes collaborations with the University of Florida, Santa Fe Community College, the Hippodrome State Theatre, Dance Alive and many other groups. In order for the orchestra to maintain quality programs, Haile says, it needs continued support from the community.

"It is important for the community not just to give verbal support to an institution such as this, but to give its presence," he says. "The performing arts are a communal experience. Recordings and DVDs are not the same as live performance."

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