Reno Philharmonic begins Sunday series

RENO - The way Reno Philharmonic Music Director Barry Jekowsky sees it, there's little excuse not to make it to one of his concerts in the coming year.

You say Tuesday night's inconvenient? Concerts run too late? The music's too sophisticated?

Jekowsky buys none of this.

He has built a 2000-2001 Master Classics season around dashing all of those excuses. From Beethoven's Fifth to a new Sunday series, the Reno Philharmonic is making every effort to make concerts "accessible."

"Next season," Jekowsky said, "is filled with programs that I have geared to the widest audience possible: people coming for the first time, people coming with kids, people who love theater, who love ballet, who love opera. I'm interested in reaching people who are not avid concert goers."

If that means starting at 7:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., so be it. The Tuesday concerts will start a half hour earlier next year.

The Sierra Philharmonic League's members especially welcome the earlier start since they come from Carson City, Douglas and Lyon counties and as far way as Alpine County, said Maggie Benz, the league's president.

The league has even more enthusiasm for the new series with concerts at 4 p.m. Sunday. This marks the first time in the orchestra's 32-year history that concerts will have multiple performances.

"I got so much feedback about having the two performances next year," Benz said. "They will subscribe to the Sunday series because of the ease to get home early."

The 4 p.m. start is a bit late for a Sunday matinee, but philharmonic board members decided the time is just right for a region with an active lifestyle.

"It was interesting how 4 o'clock came up," Benz said. "Board members were talking about Sunday but some said, 'We want to go skiing.' By gosh, you can go skiing on Sunday and go to a Philharmonic concert, too."

Since Jekowsky became music director two years ago, Reno Philharmonic tickets have been tough to come by for subscriptions or individual tickets. Resale of returned tickets have allowed the philharmonic to sell 107 percent of capacity at the Pioneer Center.

"Half of our group couldn't get tickets this year," Benz said. "I could sense a sigh of relief when they heard a second performance was coming around."

Carson Country residents account for more than 100 seats filled by subscribers at each concert. Jekowsky continues a tradition started by his and his predecessor Ron Daniels of trying to speak to the Sierra league membership in the days prior to a Master Classics concert.

"We want the people in Carson City to realize that we're looking out for them and would love to bring them to our concerts," Jekowsky said.

Daniels, who lives in Carson City, was instrumental in the formation of the Sierra Philharmonic League together with locals Joanne Hall, Ann Funk, Sarah Jones, Janet Collom and Betty Clark. The league each year sponsors the Pops in the Park concert, which brings the Reno Philharmonic to Genoa on the Fourth of July.

Jekowsky wants Master Classics concerts to be family events. He hopes the 7:30 p.m. and Sunday concerts will encourage more parents to bring their children along.

Jekowsky often brought his own children to the 8 p.m. concerts the past two seasons, but "sometimes I leave the kids home because they have to get up for school. More and more the trend is to start concerts earlier."

Jekowsky takes a similar approach to adults and children. He speaks to the audience a half hour before each concert and opens up to a question-and-answer session after most concerts.

For children, Jekowsky conducts six Young People's Concerts each spring with the Reno Philharmonic. He explains the music during the concert.

"It's the opportunity to introduce them in a way they can relate to the symphony orchestra by having fun and feeling no pressure," Jekowsky said. "They whole idea is I'm teaching them before they have a bad experience. It's no different for adults. We all want to be entertained, engaged, enlightened."

The Master Classics season opens at 4 p.m. Sept. 17 and at 7:30 Sept. 19 with Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, the Dvorak Cello Concerto and Copland's "An Outdoor Adventure.

The Oct. 15 and 17 concerts feature the Haydn Symphony No. 83, Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Orli Shaham and the Brahms Symphony No. 2.

Jekowsky describes the Nov. 5 and 7 program as one that showcases the entire orchestra with the Capriccio Espangnol by Rimsky-Korsakov, the Hymn for String Orchestra by Cowell, Ravel's Bolero and De Falla's Three-Cornered Hat.

The Jan. 21 and 23 concert includes the Mozart Symphony No. 19a, the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5. On March 4 and 6, the Reno Philharmonic plays Chadwick's "Jubilee," the Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2 and the "Symphony Fantastique" by Berlioz.

The season closes with a concert performance of Leonard Bernstein's Broadway hit, "Candide" on April 22 and 24.

"I gave an incredible amount of thought to the music I programmed," Jekowsky said. "I planned this seas so no one could have a subscription and not love every aspect of it."

Information about Reno Philharmonic concerts is available by calling 323-6393. Information about the Sierra Philharmonic League can be obtained from Maggie or Bernie Benz at 782-5078.


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