The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra (JSO) will perform a concert of newly composed music and well-known works on Saturday at 7.30pm in the Grand Hall on Broad Street in Cambria City. The concert is the continuation of a collaboration begun in March 2021 between the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and The Steeples Project to bring upscale yet accessible chamber music experiences to historic Cambria City. Before the performance at 6.30 p.m. Maestro Blachly will lead a pre-concert talk with An Invitation to the Music with James Blachly to tell more about the program. Admission is at 6.15 p.m.
Before he became orchestral conductor, Maestro Blachly devoted himself to composition with over 40 commissions for ensembles of all sizes. In this unique program, a series of six “musical portraits” that he composed last year for friends of the JSO will be performed by chamber ensembles and solo instruments. The pieces were sponsored by the JSO patrons, William J. Locher and family, Dr. Commissioned by Michael and Mrs. Monica M. Garver, the Cook family, Julie Coyle, the Pasquerilla family, and Julie and Edward Sheehan. The pieces will be premiered by members of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, along with guest artists Mark Addleman, Flávio Chamis and Joseph Satava.
These six newly composed works are followed by Song Form from Sinfonietta No.1 for Strings by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, written when the composer was only 22 years old; This intimate and exciting program is rounded off by Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. The piece depicts life in a Pennsylvania city while a family settles in a new home, and selected musicians from the JSO will play the original version for 13 instruments.
Commenting on his unique program for Saturday, James Blachly, Music Director, said: “Composing these pieces was one of the greatest joys of my time as Music Director. It brought me closer to six families, all of whom have a strong bond with the symphony. It introduced me to biographies and invited me to get to know family stories, photographs from the 1930s and long conversations with everyone involved. It also made me compose for our JSO players, which meant that when I wrote, I had their particular sound quality and playing style in my creative inner ear, and this was able to bring me closer to the orchestra even though we were separated by pandemic circumstances .
“The Perkinson is a piece that is both reflective and exquisitely crafted. It shows the profound skill and unique voice of this composer who has intrigued me for the past two years, and I predict that his music will be heard more frequently across the country in the years to come. After all, Copland is a work I’ve known all of my conducting career, and with the setting of rural Pennsylvania and Martha Graham’s roots in Pittsburgh, the work has a particular resonance with that audience. “
The concert will last a little over an hour and there will be no break. To ensure the safety of our musicians, staff and the audience, guests must wear masks in the Great Hall regardless of their vaccination status.
Although the concert is sold out due to the overwhelming response from the community, tickets for all other JSO concerts are now available on johnstownsymphony.org. On the website, the public can learn more about the entire concert season: All About Love: A Season About What Carries Us and Lifts Us, as well as learning how to perform in the JSO’s ensembles, including the Symphony Chorus, Johnstown Symphony Youth Orchestra, inclined to sing, strings and share the music. Additionally, everyone is encouraged to keep up to date by following JSO’s Facebook page for announcements, videos, photos, and more.
The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is committed to serving the community through the transformative power of music; We look forward to strengthening our bond with our current friends and making new contacts. About the Grand Hall on Broad Street: The Grand Hall on Broad Street is owned by 1901 Church, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 company that sponsors the Steeples Project. Their mission is to transform historic, former ethnic church buildings into dynamic event venues in the Cambria City Cultural District of Johnstown. The Grand Hall, officially known at Immaculate Conception, has reopened and turned into a vibrant venue for weddings, private functions, cultural events and concerts.