Sunday, May 06, 2007

Yesterday, Sunday, was the Venango Chamber Orchestra (VCO) concert. The program included the La Montaine's "Jubilant Overture", Prokofiev's "March" from The Love for Three Oranges, highlights from Rodger's The Soudn of Music, Verdi's "Triumphial March" from Aida, Berlin's "God Bless America", Mitchell's "Ode For Orchestra", Tchaikovsky's "Introduction" and "Finale" from Romeo and Juliet, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, op.39 (No.1) and Sousa's "El Capitan".

The VCO does a lot of things right - they stay closely connected to the community giving them a little of what they want and at the same time, dropping in some new work as well. The Mitchell piece for instance highlights the work of a Butler native and Oil City resident who also happens to be an accomplished composer and musician. The VCO's outreach is impressive too - during Sunday's concert the second grade at St Stephen's presented them with a $275 check that the class had raised (full disclosure; My wife, Amy, teaches that class). At the end of the show, conductor Murcko invited the students on stage to practice their conducting:

Concertmistress Nancy Simpson has been a regular guest of St Stephen classrooms. At the Sunday show, Conductor John Murcko made a special point of highlighting the teens in the orchestra (Theo Dixon, Steve McCoy, and Ben Thurau) who had received State honors. they've done shows at the Cranberry Mall in the past. Concertmistress Simpson will be at DeBence's museum later this month playing a ~300 year old violin. Murcko and Simpson are gems- in the time that I have spoken to them they've always been witty, intelligent and ready to talk about their art on every level from a second grade to fellow musicians - and they aren't dumb - they can see that their audience is literally dying out - the average age had to be over 60 at Sunday's show, but instead of ringing their hands or worse, assuming a "these kids today" attitude, they are proactively recruiting an audience for the next fifteen years.

What would help? A web page, or even a myspace page - a place where people could find out what numbers will be played at upcoming shows , a chance to continue to ask for donations, maybe watch some video clips of rehearsals. But, they're making good progress and are an example for other arts groups in the county.

The next show is the 15th anniversary celebration on October 28, 2007 - also in the Barrow Civic Theatre.

Speaking of DeBence's, don't forget that the DeBence Antique Music World will be doing its part to honor Mothers on Saturday, May 12th. Bring Mom or Grandma to the Museum, and her admission will be free. The rest of the party must pay the full admission price. Questions? Call the museum at (814) 432-8350.

No comments: