Monday, October 25, 2021

PCO kicks off in-person performances

STATE COLLEGE — After more than a year of virtual performances and operations, the Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra returned live this fall with its 2021-2022 season kick off on Sept. 12 in the Penn State Recital Hall.

The season’s theme is “together again,” with concert selections tying into the theme in creative, celebratory ways, bringing back returning and local talent.

“It was so foreign last year to not be able to make music together and to only interact on Zoom,” said Anna Skrupky, executive director at the Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra.

Prior to Sunday, the orchestra’s last concert took place in January 2020. Over the last year-plus, the orchestra has offered free, online programming featuring recordings of past performances paired with interviews and commentary.

Skrupky said the next performance — the Dec. 12 holiday concert — will likely be the most popular this year, with a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” and guest conductor Christopher Kiver.

“The holiday concert sold out the last year,” Skrupky says. “In fact, we oversold, because some people didn’t show up and we just kept selling until we had no seats left. The holiday concert is extremely popular.”

But, for those who can’t make the holiday concert — or any of this season’s events — Skrupky does assure the orchestra will continue offering free, live streamed concerts on its website.

While classical music aficionados may already be intimately familiar with some of the orchestra’s selections this season — including Handel’s “Messiah” and a performance of Beethoven’s “Triple Concerto” at the third concert in May — for those seeking something new, Skrupky recommends the first concert of the season, which includes the “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” by Astor Piazzolla, Mozart’s Overture to “Abduction from the Seraglio” and Dvorak’s “Czech Suite.”

“Everyone knows Mozart, but I’m not sure that Piazzolla and Dvorak are household names,” she said. “And it’s Piazzolla’s hundredth birthday this year, so a lot of orchestras are starting to play him. It’s very timely.”

The orchestra’s Maestro Yaniv Attar summed up the 2021 season best, saying, “We have an incredible season coming up, with a fantastic line up of soloists. The repertoire will be a wonderful combination of both known and lesser-known works which I know you will love. I’m especially excited about the soloists who will be joining us this season, but more than anything, I am so thrilled to finally reconnect with both the orchestra and our audience.”

More information — including yet-to-be-finalized details regarding educational programming and the orchestra’s annual family concert — can be found at pachamberorchestra.org as it becomes available. Tickets are available through the Penn State Eisenhower Auditorium box office and also on the orchestra’s website.