CSO musicians hold open recital

Lauren Hutchison | Staff Writer

Members and friends of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will perform at an hour-long, open recital at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall.

The third annual recital is sponsored by the Symphony Partners — the CSO’s volunteer and support organization. Donations to the Symphony Partners will support future events, including Meet the CSO, Musicians Brown Bag lunch and post-symphony Meet the Sections events.

“The CSO brings us happiness and the gift of music,” said Judith Claire, president of the Symphony Partners. “The Symphony Partners is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for year after year of music.”

Today’s recital is a unique opportunity to interact with members of the CSO on a more personal level. It also allows more of the CSO’s 74 musicians to feature their talents in solos and small ensembles, said CSO French horn player Mark Robbins.

“I think the Symphony Partners is a very valuable thing — anything that can draw us closer to the audience and the audience closer to us,” he said.

Robbins and fellow CSO French horn player Donna Dolson will perform three horn duets from Mozart’s “Twelve Original Duets,” K. 487. Robbins described the pieces as light and frothy, but said that at the same time, they contain plenty of musical depth.

Robbins and Dolson have performed together for 27 years after joining the CSO in the same year. They consider themselves good friends and have appeared in every CSO open recital together.

“The recitals are wonderful, because we get to know the audience on a more intimate basis,” Dolson said.

Dolson will also be playing with CSO principal tuba player Fred Boyd, performing an unusual tuba and French horn duo by John Stevens, a one-time student of former CSO tuba player Toby Hanks. “Dialogues III for Horn and Tuba,” composed in 1987, features back-and-forth calling between the tuba and French horn, followed by an almost jazzy section, Dolson said.

Some of today’s seven ensembles comprise couples as well as friends. Nancy and Jason Weintraub have been playing together since the two met more than 45 years ago. Nancy is a pianist and a Symphony Partners director-at-large. Jason is the CSO English horn player and business and personnel manager.

“As a duo, we understand each other very well,” Nancy Weintraub said. “We always know what the other is doing.”

They will be performing “Opus in F,” a piece specifically composed for the duo by Turkish composer Naki Ataman. Ataman heard the Weintraub Duo when they were performing on a cruise ship and wrote the piece for them. Nancy Weintraub described the opus as romantic and almost ballad-like in its simplicity. It showcases the beauty of the English horn, she said.

Other couples featured in today’s recital include CSO violinist Karen Lord-Powell and her husband, bassist Brian Powell, performing Reinhold Glière’s Suite for Violin and Double Bass, as transcribed and edited by Frank Proto.

CSO cellist Batia Lieberman and her husband, CSO bassist Bernard Lieberman, are two of four members in today’s string quartet, which also features CSO violinists Lara Sipols and Lenelle Morse. They will play Gioachino Rossini’s Sonata for Strings No. 1 in G. The string quartet formed and performed this piece for Paul Mischakoff’s memorial service earlier this year.

“Paul was a happy and fun guy, so we wanted to play happy, fun music,” Morse said.

She likened the piece to many of Rossini’s overtures, with its buoyancy and upbeat character.

Morse enjoys playing with the quartet because of its laid-back atmosphere and trust, she said.

She has performed with other groups in past CSO open recitals, including last year’s “Walking Girls,” formed by CSO members who also walked together every morning for exercise.

Other ensembles in the recitals have worn costumes, played pop music on cellos or performed hunting calls on French horns, Claire said.

Though the music program at Chautauqua may be similar to music festivals like Aspen and Tanglewood, Chautauqua differs in one important respect, Claire said.

“In all disciplines at Chautauqua, you can have personal interactions,” she said. “All of the members of the CSO are Chautauquans. The community here is unique.”

Members of the Symphony Partners can attend closed CSO events, including the upcoming rehearsal and picnic on Wednesday, July 20. Membership to the Symphony Partners costs $20 for a family or $10 for an individual membership.