Rob Gebelhoff

Concord Chamber Orchestra tugs at your heartstrings

The “Hearts” concert, performed by the Concord Chamber Orchestra, is of course all love-themed works.

By - Dec 5th, 2013 09:29 am
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Jamin Hoffman, music director for the Concord Chamber Orchestra, conducts the volunteer-based company. Photo courtesy of the Concord Chamber Orchestra.

Jamin Hoffman, music director for the Concord Chamber Orchestra, conducts the volunteer-based company. Photo courtesy of the Concord Chamber Orchestra.

It was while playing “Crazy Eights” with his 10-year-old daughter that Jamin Hoffman came up with the theme for this week’s “Hearts” concert performed by the Concord Chamber Orchestra. In fact, Hoffman, who’s served as its music director for 10 years, planned the group’s entire season of four concerts based on playing cards, with each one named after a different suit.

“When I set these themes, it’s almost as if it’s a challenge for myself or a puzzle to solve,” Hoffman says. “How do I make something that has nothing to do with music connect with music?”

The “Hearts” concert, performed this Saturday night at St. Josaphat’s Basilica, is of course all love-themed works, including an arrangement called “Viva Puccini” by the composer Robert Wendel commemorating the romantic works of Giacomo Puccini, “Rakastava” by Jean Sibelius and “L’Arlesienne” by Georges Bizet. The concert also features a selection of Christmas music performed with the UW-Parkside Choir conducted by its director, James Kinchen.

The Concord Orchestra, founded in 1975, is made up entirely of about 50 non-paid musicians. The company is based in Wauwatosa.

“The thing I love most about conducting Concord is that it’s made up of volunteers,” Hoffman says. “These people are here simply because they love music. I can often get much more commitment from amateur musicians than professionals.”

Part of the Concord’s mission is to develop younger musicians with great potential. One way the group does this is through its annual Concerto Competition, which gives one musician the opportunity to perform a concerto of his or her choice in the group’s March concert.

Photo courtesy of the Concord Chamber Orchestra

Photo courtesy of the Concord Chamber Orchestra

This feeds into Hoffman’s career as a music educator. As a teacher at Nicolet High School, Hoffman says music has a profound influence on making well-rounded students. “Students who work on music are more adept at solving problems and working on things in a different way,” he notes. “Music has a powerful impact on people’s lives.”

On top of his teaching career, Hoffman arranges and edits music for the Hal Leonard Corporation, usually rewriting great works for student musicians in high school or middle school. Hoffman stresses the importance of challenging young musicians to play greater works, which he says is also part of the Concord’ mission.

“I like to pick music that is unfamiliar to me and to the orchestra,” he says. “We have to grow.”

Saturday, Dec. 8, 8 p.m. Tickets are available at http://ww.concordorchestra.org. There’s also a free dress rehearsal at the Basilica of St. Josaphat Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:15 p.m.

Other concerts this week:

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops Spectacular

Conductor Stuart Chafetz, former resident conductor of the MSO Pops series, returns to lead the group in performances of such Christmas classics as “Believe” from Polar Express, “Carol of the Bells,” “O Holy Night,” “Joy to the World” and many others.

The performance will feature the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, the Milwaukee Children’s Choir, the Milwaukee Youth Chorale and the Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble.

“Having so many people from the community involved in the concert is just a great way to celebrate the holiday spirit and share the festivities with the entire family,” Chafetz says.

Chafetz has an unusual background for a conductor, having previously served for 20 years as principal timpanist of the Honolulu Symphony. “Being a player for all those years enables me to understand what it takes to be an orchestral musician professionally and what is needed from the podium,” Chafetz says

The concerts are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available at http://www.mso.org

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra: The Snowman

Offering a different kind of holiday concert, the orchestra soars into a magical realm with the score for “The Snowman” by Raymond Briggs performed alongside a screening of the accompanying animated film.

Assistant MSO conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong will conduct the challenging family concert, which includes the popular theme, “Walking in the Air,” sung by boy soprano Daniel Voigt.

“It is a gorgeous score,” Lecce-Chong says. “The music is just beautiful. And it’s great because it really allows the whole family to come. The kids will definitely enjoy it.”

Usually a concert like this would require the orchestra to have mechanisms to synch the music with the film, he notes. But because the animation is only about 25 minutes long, Lecce-Chong will have no aids whatsoever other than watching the animation as he conducts.

To pull this off, Lecce-Chong spent many hours studying the film and the music so he knows when the score’s elements have to match the movie. “The preparation for this has been remarkably difficult,” he says. “The orchestra will have to be very flexible with me.”

The performance is 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Marcus Center. Order tickets http://www.mso.org

Wisconsin Lutheran College’s Christmas Choral Concert

Wisconsin Lutheran Choir, Chamber Choir and Chapel Choir will present the serene melody of “O Nata Lux” by Morten Lauridsen, along with other a capella Christmas favorites from around the world in the annual Wisconsin Lutheran College Christmas Choral Concert.

Dec. 5-6 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. at Schwann Concert Hall in Wauwatosa. Order tickets at http://www.wlc.edu/boxoffice/

Categories: Classical, Music

0 thoughts on “Concord Chamber Orchestra tugs at your heartstrings”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Can you the Lakeshore Symphonic Band (www.lakeshoresymphonicband.org) and our free concert at Holy Hill Basilica on Dec 16 at 6 pm. See the details at our website.

    Thank you

    Dick Steinmetz

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