The(_)Project Chamber Orchestra Presents its First Concert this Weekend

By Erik Elmgren

The(_)Project Chamber Orchestra, a new ensemble founded by Jorge Vazquez and Eastman student Caroline Sonett presents its first concert, entitled The(Stravinsky)Project, this weekend. One concert will be performed on Saturday, October 22 at 3:00 p.m. in the Kate Gleason Auditorium at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County. The other concert will be presented on Sunday, October 23 at 1:30 p.m. in the Ray Wright Room at the Eastman School of Music. To learn a bit more about this exciting new student venture, I spoke with both founders.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Caroline: I’m a flutist and a first year DMA, although I got my masters at Eastman in ’16, so I’ve been around for a while! I’m interested in about a million different things, so I’m always looking for the next cool project I can be involved with. Last year that was the Gibbs Street Symposium (stay tuned for our 2017 season, coming soon!!), so when Jorge approached me last year with an interest in doing a project in Rochester, I was hooked. 

Jorge: I studied conducting in Miami with Grzegorz Nowak, Permanent Associate Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic and an alumnus of the doctoral conducting program at ESM. Even though I am not an Eastman student, the school has influenced me greatly. I have had the opportunity to take masterclasses with maestro Varon in Miami and in Rochester. Also, in the past couple of years I have been traveling back and forth to Rochester since my girlfriend went to school at Eastman, and I was able to meet many people in town. I was always very impressed with the level and commitment of the Eastman students and how involved the community is with classical music. I have founded two chamber orchestras in Miami and Mexico and wanted to see if it’d be possible to be part of the amazing classical music life in Rochester. I approached Caroline and she immediately agreed to help create the orchestra here. 

What is your role in The(_)Project Chamber Orchestra?

Caroline: The two of us are the co-founders of The(_)Project Chamber Orchestra, a new ensemble that dedicates itself to the works of a singular composer for each concert, providing audience with an hour-long glimpse into the life and works of the composer. Jorge is our artistic director and I am the executive director. For our concerts we team up with musicologists who aurally present program notes and create a story behind our program. This weekend, Gabby Cornish will be our MC of sorts.

Jorge: I was brought up as a violinist playing mainly chamber music. Therefore, as the conductor of The(_)Project Chamber Orchestra, I feel like I am going back to my roots as a musician. A chamber orchestra gives you flexibility and it becomes a true collaboration between the conductor and the musicians because we all depend on one another, especially with a composer like Stravinsky.

This concept for a chamber orchestra is a very interesting one. Can you talk a bit about how you came up with the idea for this ensemble?

Caroline: I absolutely love chamber music, and a chamber orchestra combines what I find to be the best parts of orchestra and chamber music. A chamber orchestra allows for flexible instrumentation and a much larger variety of possible programs, and gives us the opportunity to present both large and smaller works by a composer. This is especially helpful as we focus each concert on the works of just one composer; we can then give our audiences a greater concept of variance within an artist’s oeuvre.

Jorge: The concept of the orchestra and its name were Caroline’s idea and I loved them immediately. I think that including musicologists in the programs will make our performances not only informative but also interactive and will allow us to break the wall between musicians and audience members during the concert. 

What sort of unique challenges do you have to tackle when building a program entirely of one composer’s music?

Caroline: Honestly, the greatest challenge of building a program entirely of one composer’s music is choosing the right composer. There has to be a diverse assortment of pieces in both their instrumentation, style and ability to represent different points in a composer’s compositional output. And, of course, a chamber orchestra has the ability to be a bit more democratic than the traditional full symphony, so we want to include musician input in our programming choices going forward! 

What should audience’s expect to hear this coming weekend at the (Stravinsky) Project Concert?

Caroline: This weekend we will be presenting four works by Igor Stravinsky: Ragtime, L’Histoire du Soldat, Octet, and Epitaphium. On Saturday October 22 at 3PM we will be in the Mary Gleason Auditorium at the Rochester Public Library, and Sunday October 23 at 1:30PM we will be in the Ray Wright Room of ESM. Hope to see you there! 

Jorge: The concert will be a treat not only for us but for the audience as well because this set of works is rarely performed together. I think it will be a great opportunity for the audience to listen and explore this side of Stravinsky’s music. 

How can people get involved with the group if they are interested?

Caroline: Looking towards projects next semester, we are looking for interested string players to be on the orchestra roster. They can email me at csonett@u.rochester.edu. Additionally, as we hope to expand both our audience/patron base and our flexibility of concert venues, we would love to have a few interested Music Management personnel join our team!! Specifically we are looking for a Marketing and Operations Administrative Assistant and a Special Events and Outreach Coordinator. Interested students can email me at the same address!

The(Stravinsky)Project

Saturday, October 22, 2016 – 3:00 p.m.
Kate Gleason Auditorium, Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County
115 South Ave., Rochester, NY

Sunday, October 23, 2016 – 1:30 p.m.
Ray Wright Room, Eastman School of Music