Atlantic Classical Orchestra gives season overview at The Moorings

The Atlantic Classical Orchestra (ACO), a world-class ensemble of talented musicians, is heading into its 20th Anniversary season.  Originally founded by Vero Beach resident and professional conductor, Andrew McMullan, this “jewel of the Treasure Coast” is currently under the baton of Artistic Director Stewart Robertson.  Members of the ACO board of directors have been reaching out to the community with a series of Cocktails and Ensemble gatherings, including one this past Sunday at The Moorings.  Robertson spoke to the group first, giving them a little insight into the musicality of the upcoming season, and then guests were treated to an ACO String Quartet concert.  Quartet leader Rafael Elvira was joined by Monica Cheveresin, Modesto Marcano and Ben Salsbury.

The Atlantic Classical Orchestra possesses what board member Virginia Kimmel describes as European quality combined with American spontaneity.  That flair might have something to do with the international makeup of the orchestra.  ACO musicians come from all over the world and, while most now call Florida home, there are a few who have a major commute for each concert.  Concertmaster Lenny Sigal flies in from Connecticut, Principal Cellist Ian Maksin from Chicago and Principal Bassoonist Aura Trevino commutes all the way from Caracas, Venezuela.

Robertson noted that the ACO has carved out a niche for itself playing programs that are just a little bit different, although he considers the upcoming season to be a more classical season, albeit with a twist.

The first in the series features a unique chamber version of Gustav Mahler’s Fourth Symphony.  He described how, in the 1920s when the arts were having a difficult time, pieces were occasionally arranged with fewer instruments because that was all they could afford.  The version the ACO will play was arranged in 2007 and gives the piece what Robertson calls a freshness and vitality.  Also in that series is Vaughn Williams’ Overture to The Wasps and Ravel’s La Tombeau de Couperin.

The second in the series features Beethoven’s bucolic Symphony #6 “Pastoral,” depicting a beautiful countryside, paired with Richard Strauss’ Tanzsuite and Juan Francisco Sans jazz-influenced De la Liberacion de las Formas.

The third presents Beethoven’s magnificent Violin Concerto, performed by Tchaikovsky Competition gold medalist Elmar Oliveira.  That series also includes the jazz-influenced pieces Adjustable Wrench composed by Michael Torke and La Creation du Monde by Darius Milhaud.

The last in the series offers Schumann’s romantic-era Piano Concerto and a completed version of Schubert’s Symphony #8 “Unfinished” Symphony.  It also presents a piece by Paul Dooley, a fresh, young composer to remember.  “Listen for this young man’s name because you’re sure to hear it again,” said Robertson.

Robertson has introduced two additional programs to round out the ACO experience – the ACO Chamber Music Series, now in its second year, and a new Behind the Baton Education Program.  The Chamber Music Series of concerts are held in partnership with the Vero Beach Museum of Art in the Museum’s Leonhardt Auditorium.  The series will include Concertmaster Lenny Sigal playing an all Russian program, Principal Cellist Ian Maksin with an all Czech program and ACO musicians, joined by vocal artists from the Florida Grand Opera, with a program of all Scandinavian works.

The Behind the Baton program is offered through the Indian River State College Lifelong Learning Institute and gives music lovers the opportunity to get an in-depth study in the morning of the pieces being played in concert that same evening.  Concert-goers have appreciated Robertson’s brief pre-concert presentations and this provides an opportunity for a more comprehensive version.

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