Williamsport Symphony Orchestra May "Notes"

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Williamsport Symphony Orchestra Newsletter

May 2014

  2013-2014 Calendar                   

May 2014
10      Master class with Jeff Thayer
Mary Lindsay Welch Honors Hall, Lycoming College
10:00-11:30 am
12     Meet the Maestro
        Capitol Lounge of CAC
        5:30 -7:00 pm
13    WSO Variations
        Community Arts Center
        7:30 pm  

Ticket Holders - don't miss out on this exciting benefit!

Park and dine at the Genetti's 4th Street Grille & Ale House. Bring your Symphony ticket to receive 10% off your meal along with free parking prior to the show.


Special Thanks to the Sponsors
Hudock Moyer
Season Sponsor
Concert Sponsor
Follow the WSO on Facebook                  

Fan mail, photos, assorted other information - there for your information and entertainment.


For example, following the March concert, Melissa Mahler wrote:

Really enjoyed the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra tonight. They just keep getting better!


The guest artist - Morgan Myles - had this to say:

I just want to take a moment and THANK everyone who made "Beauty of Song" an amazing night that I will never forget. WILLIAMSPORT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA I have so much respect for your talent and how beautiful you made my original music sound....

Conductor's Corner
Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that we are coming close to the end of the season. It has been an incredible ride so far with concerts of great music and exceptional guest artists. The orchestra is sounding better than ever, and I love the enthusiasm and support from our audience.


For the last concert we are featuring one of my favorite symphonic works from the end of the nineteenth century, the Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar. It is a fabulous piece; according to the composer it hides a secret theme. There were many speculations during Elgar's life about what that "enigma" might be, but he denied all the claims and took the secret to his grave. What we know is that the composition starts with a beautiful original theme followed by fourteen variations - each one dedicated to a best friend, one to his wife, and the last one to himself. The well-known "Nimrod"" variation became one of Elgar's most famous tunes used in many movies and also in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.


We could not finish the season without a star, therefore our own Jeff Thayer is back in Williamsport to play Bartok's "Violin Concerto No. 2." This virtuosic concerto also includes a set of variations and the music is based on the eighteenth century Hungarian dance called 'Verbunkos". Although this style has its origins in the military, the melodies derive from Hungarian folk and popular music that has been sometimes attributed to Gypsies.


The concert will start with two selections by American composer Aaron Copland, "Variations on a Shaker Melody" and "Hoe Down"from his ballet Rodeo. Members of the Williamsport Symphony Youth Orchestra will join us to perform side- by- side with our musicians. I can't wait to see the stage full of such talent!


Come and experience yourself the beauty and excitement of live music. As always, we love to share our music- making with you, your families, your friends, and the friends of your friends. We are close to breaking all attendance records this season. Let's make it happen and fill the hall. Spread the word that your Symphony is playing and it can't be missed!


See you at the concert!





G's sig

 Gerardo Edelstein

Music Director/Conductor  

Welcome Subscribers!

The 2014 - 2015 Season brochures will be in the mail by the end of May! The brochure will describe our exciting new five concert series and provide an order form for you to renew or buy a subscription.


A change in the ticketing process means that you will not see the customary gold box in the lobby into which you'd normally put your concert ticket stub. Instead, we ask that you mail or drop off your completed order form at the Community Arts Center for processing. At the beginning of September, your tickets will be mailed to you.


We look forward to having you back; we welcome new subscribers; and we encourage you to bring your children! A season subscription for a child four years of age and older is only $25.   Come join us for the magic of orchestral music!   

"Variations" - Program notes by Dr. Gary Boerckel

Copland, Elgar, and Billy the Kid

Gary Boerckel


This has to be one of the odder coincidences I have encountered while researching program notes.

The notorious outlaw William H. Bonney-a.k.a. Billy the Kid-was the subject of Aaron Copland's earliest of three ballets based on American themes. The WSO performed a suite from Billy the Kid in February and the orchestra will include excerpts from Rodeo and Appalachian Spring on the May program. The third of Elgar's Enigma variations is a sketch of the composer's friend R. B. T. -Richard Baxter Townshend-an elderly Oxford professor who enjoyed performing in amateur theatricals.  As a younger man, Townshend spent time in America "seeking his fortune." He tried cattle ranching and prospecting for gold, but ultimately found success in horse-trading. In early 1879, Townshend with ten cowboys and a cook headed north for Colorado driving a large herd of horses. On the way they were stopped by Billy the Kid who threatened to steal all the horses but eventually let them pass. Townshend recounted his American adventures in three books that are still available:  A Tenderfoot in Colorado, The Tenderfoot in New Mexico, and Lone Pine. An odd coincidence, indeed.


Bartók Leaves Hungary


Hungarian composer Béla Bartók worked on the Violin Concerto No. 2 from 1937 to 1938, two of the most difficult years of his life. He despised fascism in all its forms, refusing to allow his music to be performed on Hungarian radio stations whose signal was powerful enough to be heard in Germany or Italy. After the German annexation of Austria, members of the Austrian equivalent of ASCAP were required to respond to a questionnaire about their ethnic identity. Bartók refused, and was informed that his "Aryan status" was "under investigation."  When Hitler began to threaten Czechoslovakia and Poland, Bartók decided that he would have to leave Hungary, especially since many Hungarians were supporting Germany. Plagued by ill health, and with very little savings from his modest income, Bartók dreaded the idea of starting over in a foreign country at the age of sixty. Nevertheless, when the composer's mother died in 1939 the last strand binding Bartók to Hungary was broken and he and his wife, Ditta, began the painful journey that would lead them to the United States in 1940.

Up Close and Personal - Meet Larry Lunt
E. LaRue Lunt
E. LaRue Lunt

In the concert program under Music Sponsors is the name

E. LaRue Lunt, but Mr. Lunt signs his communications to us - "Larry Lunt" from Arlington, Virginia. He is a regular and generous sponsor of the WSO, but someone whom no one in the office has ever met. However, in the fall he responded to an invitation to a special event thanking donors with a clue to his identity and allegiance to the Symphony. Here's some of what he wrote:


It's been many years since I left Williamsport (like about 54) and much as I enjoy coming back, I don't get there very often. I try to keep in touch with happenings by reading the Sun-Gazette online.


I was in high school with Dick Campbell, who left the orchestra not too long ago. We've lost touch. I played clarinet way back then.


            It is good to know there is an orchestra in Williamsport, and I hope it continues  

            to thrive.  


That was a teaser and made us even more curious about Larry's long-term, long-distance support of the WSO. So we decided to turn the spotlight on him for this issue. We thought others might enjoy knowing a little more about him.


Born in Williamsport, Larry graduated from Williamsport High School and Lycoming College, where he sang in Walter McIver's concert choir. Around that time, he heard a forerunner of the WSO - the Susquehanna Valley Orchestra under Osborne Housel. Following graduation, he taught at Jersey Shore Elementary School for a year and then for another year in Bucks County. Looking for a career change, he spent a number of years working for the American Cancer Society in several eastern states. Prior to his retirement, he was Manager of Human Resources at the U. S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington DC.


Larry grew up in a home that enjoyed classical music. His older sisters were musicians, and he was always exposed to good music. A keyboard player himself, he has played the organ at a number of churches wherever he lived. And in the DC area, he's taken advantage of the proximity to the Kennedy Center to hear the National Symphony and visiting orchestras like the Philadelphia. He also enjoys the excellent military bands which play in the Capital.


Larry has a niece in the Hughesville area, so has returned here on occasions. Through the Sun-Gazette, he's kept track of Penn College, the Community Arts Center, the growth in the local economy, and the Williamsport Symphony, but he has not ever heard this orchestra. When asked why his interest and support continues from a distance, his response is that he has always loved Williamsport and wants to support an investment in its culture.


It has been a pleasure to talk with Larry by phone. Now we hope to meet him when he visits again, and we look forward to finding him a good seat at a WSO concert and introducing him to the orchestra he's supported so regularly.

March's "WSO Trivia" Results

And the Winner Is....


The March concert included a WSO Trivia challenge and yielded a winner:

Pat Reams from Danville.


The questions and her answers follow:


    1.    Can you name two other compositions by Leonard Bernstein?

    West Side Story and On the Town


2.    Other than the Lord of the Rings Trilogy or The Hobbit films, can you

       me another film score composed by Howard Shores?

      Silence of the Lambs, Big


3.    Name three of the main characters that appear in Les Miserables.

      Jean Val Jean, Cosette Tholomyes, Javert


Up Close and Personal - Meet the Ciabattaris

As much as it is "about music," the WSO is also "about family": the twin sisters in the clarinet section, the Leidhecker couple, the Bailey father and son; all have been featured in a newsletter. Now meet Rebecca (Becky) and William (Bill) Ciabattari; she frequents the WSO trombone section, and he is Principal tuba. And as is true of the others who share the same surname, they are also educators; Becky holds a Master in Music Education while Bill earned a PhD in Music Education, in addition to their other academic credentials. At the Cleveland Institute of Music, while earning their Masters in performance, they met Andrew Rammon, Jeff Thayer, and Steve Olson-all part of the family of musicians that enrich the WSO.

It was as players in the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra that they met; wed in 2001; here in 2006, drawn by the faculty position at Lycoming College (Bill) while Becky managed the family which included two daughters at the time; their son joined the family in 2008. Bill's position at Lycoming shifted to department chair, following Gary Boerckel's retirement (another WSO connection). Becky has been an adjunct in the music departments at Lycoming, since their arrival, and at Mansfield for the past two years. Her other WSO connection is her part-time position as Orchestra Manager/Librarian.


Teaching and performing with the orchestra are just two parts of their music-related lives. Becky has performed and toured with the Burning River Brass since 1998 and is founder of the Trombone Consortium of Central PA. Bill has helped to develop the Williamsport City Jazz Orchestra and is the founder of the new Lycoming College Community Orchestra.


In addition, Bill's work as conductor of the WSYO allows him to continue the focus on conducting, part of his PhD program, while also providing the opportunity to work with younger musicians. The March 30 chamber concert featured many of those players as will the May 13 side-by-side opportunity with the WSO.


Where did it start? For Becky, an Ohio native, father on trumpet, mother on piano, and sister on French horn; music was always a part of her life. While residing in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Bill's brother adopted the tuba so Bill, not to be outdone, learned it also. For both, however, their summer music camps during high school years and undergraduate degrees affirmed their commitment: Bill at Interlochen, then the University of Arkansas and Becky at Chautauqua, then Eastman School of Music.


About Williamsport they say:

The arts in Williamsport are thriving! We feel so lucky to have landed in a place where our children are able to explore different types of arts (all within a five-minutes' drive from our home) while at the same time we have developed many wonderful colleagues who have welcomed us to Williamsport through music.


Their initial experience with Williamsport certainly set the stage for the years that have followed:

Before moving to town, Bill and I had already been booked to play with Billtown Brass for the Pops in the Park concert. What a way to meet almost all of the brass players! It was apparent from that first concert with these musicians that this was not just an ordinary town band. It was immediately evident that the musicians here demonstrate their support for one another while striving to make the best music possible. It is this family-like atmosphere of the musical community here that drew us in, made us feel welcome, and is in many ways keeping us here.


 The Symphony, music education, their colleagues, and the arts are the staples of life-in-Williamsport for the Ciabattaris. They in turn contribute to all of those "staples" through their presence both on stage and in the community and as members of the "family of musicians" otherwise known as the WSO.

This Year's WSYO Seniors -The Mighty Seven!

While Little League has an age limit for its participants, the Williamsport Symphony Youth Orchestra has an in-school limit. As high school graduations occur each year, the WSYO also "graduates" those players. Of this year's graduates, Conductor Bill Ciabattari says:

I am glad to see our musicians furthering their education beyond high school. This group were strong leaders for the WSYO. We will miss them very much.


Median age: 17.5

School districts: Hughesville, Lewisburg, Loyalsock, Williamsport

Instruments: French horn, clarinet, violin

Number of years (collectively) with the WSYO: 18


The Mighty Seven are Andy Challman, Alden Davidson, Lydia Getgen, Josh Gilbert, Kate Landis, Leah Nason, Nanami Takashima.


Why Mighty?  Consider their other accomplishments:

  • Academic Honors (Gilbert, Landis, and Nason)

  • PMEA All State Band and Wind Ensemble (Getgen, Davidson, and Landis)

  • Members of instrumental, vocal, church ensembles (all seven)

  • Proficiency with multiple instruments

What will they remember most fondly of their WSYO experience:

  • Orchestral Rock Project with the Uptown Collective

  • Performing holiday music at the Mall

  • Summer retreats

  • The friendships

What drew them to the WSYO?

  • For most, it was their teachers and their friends

  • Experience attending WSO concerts as part of the symphony outreach program and also attending WSYO concerts in their younger years

  • Additional performance opportunities and a way to continue improving

  • For Nanami, an exchange student from Japan, the WSYO offered an opportunity to extend her music education.

What comes next?


Susquehanna U. to major in Music Education (Getgen)

Belmont U. in Nashville to study Audio Engineering Technology (Gilbert)

Penn State to major in Music Education (Landis)

The others are still considering their "where" though they know the "what": Biology, for one, and Computer Engineering for another.


What is definitely a "next" for all seven is a continuation of their commitment to their music; perhaps even a re-appearance on the CAC stage performing with the WSO.


 From the Desk of the ED

April 2014 


This Symphony season is quickly coming to a close, and what better way to celebrate than with a guest performance by another hometown talent, violinist, Jeff Thayer? Son of Fred and Pat Thayer, Jeff is a graduate of Williamsport High School and now is concertmaster of the San Diego Symphony. He's an outstanding example of "pursuing your dreams," exactly what the Symphony encourages through its mission to provide education and performance opportunities for regional talent. Each time a musician steps on the stage, your generous contributions are at work.


This leads to a sincere thank you to the folks who made a gift to the Symphony through the First Community Foundation's Raise the Region event in March. We are grateful to Hudock Moyer Wealth Resources who made a generous and perfectly-timed gift, and also to Blaise Alexander Family Dealerships who provided matching funds and prizes, one of which we were awarded.


As our last concert draws near, we move on to the kickoff of our annual fund campaign. The Symphony's colorful brochure will be in your mail boxes soon, and your contributions will play a vital part in continuing our educational and outreach opportunities as well as keeping our musicians on the stage. Affordable ticket prices and free tickets to students also result from your donor dollars.


We are working on the plans for the upcoming season of concerts which Gerardo will announce at the May 13th concert, and we will present in the Season Brochure. All I can say is that it's very exciting and I hope you will be as excited as we are. As always, come join us for the magic of music.


Let the music play on! 


               Janet's sig



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