The works of three local composers, plus the winner of a composition competition, will be premiered alongside those of four renowned classical composers Friday and on June 29 by the New Orleans Chamber Orchestra.
The concerts, both at the Marigny Opera House, will feature new works by Tucker Fuller, Jerry Sieg and Tim Robertson, all from the New Orleans area, as well as Trevor Weston, the finalist in the 2019 Spectri Sonori Competition co-sponsored by NOCO.
Also featured will be works by Giacomo Puccini, Ottorino Respighi and Franz Joseph Haydn in the first concert and Antonín Dvořák in the second.
Maxim Samarov will conduct Friday’s performance and Phillip Larroque will conduct the June 29 concert. Both are co-founders of NOCO, now in its third year of presenting two concerts annually in June. Each will play his respective instrument on the night the other conducts: Samarov cello, Larroque oboe.
Mezzo-soprano Claire Shackleton, a vocal arts graduate of Loyola University who now teaches there, will sing the Respighi piece, “Il Tramonto” (The Sunset) in the first concert, accompanied by a string orchestra. The song comes from an 1816 poem written in English by Percy Bysshe Shelley and translated into Italian for the 15-minute Respighi adaptation.
The Puccini piece, “Crisantemi” (Chrysanthemums), composed in 1890, was a tribute to the composer’s friend, the Duke of Savoy, who briefly served as king of Spain, Samarov said. The seven-minute, single movement work for string orchestra was later partially used in the closing act of Puccini’s first successful opera, “Manon Lescaut,” set in southern Louisiana.
Fuller’s composition, “Ephemera,” is an expanded version of an earlier work he wrote for a string sextet, rearranged for a string orchestra. The 12-minute, single movement piece “has a recognizable voice; a sort of tonal music that straddles the line between being minimalist and neo-romantic,” Samarov said.
The five-movement, 1772 Haydn “Farewell” Symphony No. 45 for strings, horns and winds may include a humorous twist that will surprise audiences who haven’t seen the piece performed before. However, Samarov requested that the details not be revealed prior to the performance.
Leading off the June 29 performance will be the Spectri Sonori-winning piece, Weston’s eight-minute, single movement “Juba for Strings,” selected from among the 30 submissions entered. Larroque explained that the piece was “inspired by an African American, pre-Civil War dance that has roots going back to Africa. It captures that spirit and includes a lot of performance elements; some interesting aspects that the audience will see,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to “give out any specifics” prior to the performance.
The next two original compositions, conducted by Larroque, will be Sieg’s “Fantasy for Horn and Strings” and Robertson’s “No One is Exempt,” both of which will feature Mollie Pate, principal hornist for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, as the French horn soloist. Both pieces are single movements in the eight-10 minute range.
“It’s very exciting for us to have Mollie there premiering these works,” Larroque said. “For her, I think it will be a virtuosic path. They’re quite challenging pieces.”
The 30-minute, five-movement Dvořák “Serenade for Strings” is exclusively the four string sections and is, according to Larroque, deceptively tricky.
"It combines all sorts of rhythmic figures that also have a great melody; a great musicality that comes through," he said. “It demands so much of the orchestra, more than any other piece in the program. ... But it’s also going to be fun for them. It’s certainly a favorite serenade that more and more people are starting to perform.”
New Orleans Chamber Orchestra
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, June 14 and June 29
WHERE: Marigny Opera House, 725 St. Ferdinand St., New Orleans
TICKETS: $16.74-$21.99 (including service fees)
INFO: (504) 948-9998. marignyoperahouse.org/upcoming-events