Although the summer heat is still upon us and although the leaves have not yet started changing colors, fall is clearly on its way. The local arts organizations know it, and are just about to kick-off their fall seasons with a bang. Those who bring us music are certainly no exception! So, here is a preview of musical offerings in Central Louisiana this fall, starting with the Arts Council of Central Louisiana and its new chamber music series Abendmusik Alexandria…
This Friday, the Arts Council will host the Air Force Band of the West’s Brass in Blue Ensemble for what will be an excellent concert. Musical selections include plenty of Gershwin from orchestral works like An American in Paris to songs like “Someone to Watch Over Me” all in exciting arrangements for wind band. There will also be Duke Ellington’s famous “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” plus arrangements of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Sleepers Awake,” Gustav Mahler’s “Primeval Light” (from his Resurrection Symphony), and a canzona sure to stun with its call and response by the Venetian composer Giovanni Gabrieli. Amazingly, tickets have already sold out (and at Coughlin-Saunders too which seats over 600)! So, unfortunately for those who have not already reserved tickets, you will just have to catch the next event.
The next event is nothing shabby though… Thursday, September 4 – less than a week after Brass in Blue – the Arts Council will host its first evening of Abendmusik Alexandria for a concert called “An Evening with Scott Joplin.” This concert features classical guitarist John De Chiaro – who aside from his local fame as director of the Alexandria Youth Orchestra – is known world-round as the only musician to have arranged, published, and recorded the entire body of Scott Joplin’s rags. As a guitarist approaching music originally written for piano, Mr. De Chiaro has dutifully transcribed this collection of over fifty piano pieces for his own instrument. He will play nine of these next Thursday at Abendmusik including the familiar tunes “The Entertainer” and “The Maple Leaf Rag” plus some that might even surprise the connoisseurs including “Bethena” (a full-fledged waltz incorporating Joplin’s hallmark ragtime feel) and “The Great Crush Collision March” (a favorite of De Chiaro which astutely depicts a train crash). Even if the name Scott Joplin might be unfamiliar, everyone will know “The Entertainer” and probably a few other pieces of his thanks to the 1973 movie The Sting and Joplin’s ensuing popularity. Learn more about this exciting repertoire in my program notes posted online.
Tickets are going fast for this one too – and, as Series Director, I have already had one radio spot yesterday morning and several more T.V. spots are on their way. “An Evening with Scott Joplin” will be held at the Hearn Stage in Downtown Alexandria’s Cultural Arts District on Thursday, September 4; the concert begins at 6:00, but arrive at 5:30 to enjoy appetizers by the Diamond Grill.
“An Evening with Scott Joplin” is actually just the start to the new Abendmusik Alexandria concert series. In the months to come, the Hearn Stage will also host the other concerts in this series. These include on Thursday, October 2 “Folk-Tale and Fauré” featuring Rapides Symphony Orchestra cellist Paul Christopher who like his fellow performer that evening – pianist Elena Bogaczová – is a professor at Northwestern State University in nearby Natchitoches. John De Chiaro returns Thursday, November 13 for “Young People’s Concert” which features him conducting his newly-formed Young Artists Chamber Orchestra. Thursday, December 4, “Popular Inspirations” will feature music with roots in folksong and dance as played by guitarist Jay Kacherski and violinist Lin He who was featured as soloist at the Rapides Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of Korngold’s Violin Concerto back in March.
It should be an exciting season for the Arts Council of Central Louisiana with more to come in the spring too. I’m glad to be a part of the planning for Abendmusik Alexandria, and hope you will join me for these great concerts! More on what the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, Red River Chorale, and others have in store in my next few entries!
About Jackson. Jackson Harmeyer is a music historian and composer. He is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college – where he completed an undergraduate thesis entitled “Learning from the Past: The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.” He has followed classical music around the world, attending the BachFest Leipzig in Germany, Colorado’s Aspen Music Festival, and many concerts across Louisiana and Texas. Resident in Alexandria, Jackson works with the Arts Council of Central Louisiana as Series Director of the Abendmusik Alexandria chamber music series. He also writes the program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra. As his day job, Jackson serves as Operations Manager of TicketCentral.