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The Sound of the Academy Chamber Orchestra
June 19, 2015 Roberta Kanive

The Academy Chamber Orchestra played on a recent Saturday night in the rectangular, concert-hall shaped Haller Lake United Methodist Church, under a northwest timbered ceiling. The pews were filled.

Looking at the orchestra before the concert, you knew their sound would be big. There were 45 musicians: bass, violins, percussion, some winds and brass. However, the size still did not prepare me for the rich, full sounds of the opening chords of Schubert's Quintet. It was a moment akin to hearing your very favorite piece after turning up the volume so you can hear every single note. We were all captivated by the opening sounds.

I was somewhat distracted during this first piece, trying to understand: How did they manage this fullness?

I found some explanation when I looked at the players. Young and very confident, with full and controlled bowing, they were into the music. The conductor, Alan Futterman, was the enhancing, directing element, and with his choices for programming, the performance was all good taste, style and panache - a real treat.

Futterman's placement of Prokofiev's "Midnight at the Ball" from Cinderella at the center of the concert was perfect. Paired with this orchestra, the energy and dance rhythms, as well as Prokofiev's swagger and humor, were more than convincing - they were fun. We were at the ball.

Another notable feature of this concert was Futterman's rapport with the audience. The maestro introduced each piece with just enough backstory and engaged the audience with questions – sometimes rhetorical, other times expecting an answer – and made us curious about the piece we were about to hear.

The end of the program was dedicated to the music of living composers: Romanze by Werner Kaminsky and Turkish Dervish/Casbah Music by Futterman himself. The Romanze, with its tender melody, allowed the orchestra to perform the beautiful sonorous tone of the strings. The Dervish, with prominent and lively rhythms - slow, slow to as fast as the instruments could be bowed - gave the musicians one last opportunity to demonstrate their mettle.

The concert was over too soon. Entertaining and at times dramatic, this was a program that would captivate even a preteen. It sent a clear message: classical music is alive, fun and doing very well, thank you.

A Musical Experience Extraordinaire

Bill Franz June 2011

I have just left the Emerald Room in a state of excitement and exhilaration after watching and listening to the Academy Chamber Orchestra and their premier violin soloist Marié Rossano performing the final movement of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Perhaps because I was no further than five feet from the performers or because the music was played wonderfully well by 32 talented musicians aged 13 to 18 years old, I literally inhaled the music.

Marie'’s mastery of her violin was dazzling. In the concert finale she delivered deep dramatic tones from her violin, passionate high tones, and drove the music with forceful sparkling tones, skill, and accomplishment far beyond her years. She is now 17 will be a student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Already with multiple honors for her artistic achievements, she can look forward to a marvelous career in classical music. It was obvious that she thoroughly enjoyed playing not only the Tchaikovsky but also the earlier Haydn Sinfonia Concertante as one of four soloists.

Other soloists in the opening Haydn were Tim Pizzechemi, cello; Hunter Brown, bassoon; and Harrison Linsey, oboe. The music brought the strings together followed by the wind instruments, and then individual string instruments with individual wind instruments in various sequences that were uniquely matched. Sitting this close in the front row you could see the soloists catching each other's eyes as they moved in tandem through the music. I was definitely in Mr. Linsey’s space. In his customary tuxedo his oboe was no more than two feet from my face, yet his eye never strayed from his music and his tones were flawless.

In the Premiere Rhapsodie by Claude Debussy, soloist Daniel Giaccobbe played a haunting melody on the clarinet, weaving and dipping to the music, and not once referring to the notes on his music stand. How can it be that this mature talent exists in such a young person?

Next was a Sinfonia Concertante by Mozart with soloists Hunter Brown, bassoon; Jimmy Patterson, French Horn; Harrison Linsey, oboe; and Sammy Lesnick, clarinet. As with many Mozart pieces, it was fast, exciting and with wonderful contributions from each of the instruments.

The fourth musical selection was the ballet and tone poem Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland, written for ballerina and choreographer Martha Graham in 1944. The tones produced by the orchestra under the direction of Maestro Alan Futterman were alternatively wistful and slow and lively with the music racing like a wind over the prairie.

Alan Futterman who formed the orchestra in 2000, obviously enjoyed his orchestra and led them with aplomb, many smiles, and sweeping hand gestures. A Master's graduate in music from Julliard in 1980, he was a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music in New York and conducted the Dover Symphony; taught music at Central Washington University for ten years and is currently conductor of the Bremerton Symphony. However it was plain to see that he was especially pleased to lead such a group of fine young talent. All students are selected for the Academy Chamber Orchestra by audition and several will be advancing their careers at Juilliard, Curtis, Eastman, Harvard and other notable musical institutions.

The audience enjoyed the performance, giving extended applause and a standing ovation at the conclusion of the program. The Emerald Room was filled and there must have been 10 cameras held by visitors filming and recording the performance, in addition to KHTS-TV.

Definitely the density of the audience and the huge sound of the orchestra which physically spilled over the stage, engulfed the space with incredible sound that has never before been heard in that room. Maestro Futterman noted that this performance was the seventh time the orchestra has performed at Emerald Heights, but this performance has to be the epitome for me. I have attended orchestral programs at Lincoln Center, the Great Hall in Salt Lake and Seattle's Benaroya Hall, but this for me will be the most memorable musical experience of all.

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