Friday, October 26, 2012

Smaller Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio Thinks Big

On Friday October 26th the Chamber Orchestraof San Antonio opens its concert season. No, this is not a branch of the venerable San Antonio Chamber Society nor an extension of the San Antonio Symphony. Then, what is it? It is an extraordinary complement to both, filling in that large body of music ranging from the vast repertoire of chamber orchestral music and chamber transcriptions that are rarely heard. The world of nonets upwards; its musical contingent normally ranges from ten to thirty musicians. It’s that rich shadow world consisting of everything from Arnold Schoenberg’s “Transfigured Night” and Charles Ives’s “The Unanswered Question” to the chamber works of Bliss, Enesco, Brahms (chamber version of his Serenade #1) and Copland’s original version of  “Appalachian Spring.

Where did COSA come from? It is the brain and heart child of, among others, co-founders Robert Ehlers, Paul Montalvo and Silvia Santinelli- Ehlers. They are each   professional musicians, adept amateurs or profound music lovers. They, on a given night at dinner a few years ago, decided that there was an entire body of music that was well worth hearing and rediscovering that was neglected because much of it fell between the two worlds of the grand orchestral tradition on the one hand and the classical chamber world of trio to octet on the other. More research uncovered that many of these works may have never been presented in public performance in San Antonio before. They decided to do something about it and began the arduous and extremely time consuming process of making this dream a reality; all have other very demanding jobs. The result is their upcoming first concert. It is an interesting historical survey of music from Claudio Monteverdi to Edgard Varese and Charles Ives with Richard Wagner and J.C. Bach thrown in for good measure.

To compliment this tantalizing night is a lecture-discussion component. In this case a conversation with Professor of Philosophy Kathleen Higgins (of the University of Texas )  with a concentration on music and the “philosophy of the emotions.” She offers her considered views on each of the musicians, the program and the historical context of the works as a survey of styles and musical thoughts in the western tradition.

Please take some time out Friday night at the Pearl Stables 7:30 pm Oct. 26th and you’ll hear some wonderful music. For a pre-concert peek, visit TPR.ORG to John Clare’s interview with conductor Carlos Izcaray who will lead the COSA orchestra and hear a complete interview with Kathleen Higgins.

- Ron Moore


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