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Lancaster Symphony Orchestra Announces Harmonize Lancaster: A Virtual Music Collaboration

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Their week of free virtual concerts will begin with daily musical performances on Monday, September 21, 2020.

The Lancaster Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and the Penn Square Music Festival (PSMF) are pleased to announce a partner project - Harmonize Lancaster: A Virtual Music Collaboration. Their week of free virtual concerts will begin with daily musical performances on Monday, September 21, 2020, and conclude on Saturday, September 26, 2020. The Coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of PSMF's Summer events and LSO's in-person Fall concerts. This joint endeavor will provide an occasion for both organizations to continue musical performances.

"When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Penn Square canceled not only the remainder of this season but next season as well," explains Scott Drackley, Penn Square Music Festival Founder and Artistic Director. "Like many other arts organizations, we struggled to figure a way to bring music to people through different mediums. I approached Guy McIntosh of the Lancaster Symphony about doing something jointly."

During this challenging time, both organizations remain committed to offering their musicians' performance opportunities and providing the Lancaster Community with exceptional music access. While in-person concerts are not yet possible, Harmonize Lancaster aims to recall the thrill of live music. Guy McIntosh, LSO's Executive Director, relates, "This project is a true collaboration of instrumentalists, singers, and administrators from the LSO and PSMF. As the project name indicates, these many parts will come together for a week of united artistry."

Concert videos will be made available free of charge each evening at 6:00 PM. Audiences may choose to watch in real-time or at their convenience through both organizations' Facebook pages, YouTube channels, and websites. By pairing performances by the PSMF's young, rising opera artists and selections by the LSO's professional musicians, listeners can enjoy a wide range of operatic and orchestral styles and instrumentations.

Many of the featured works have been recorded at home and professionally mastered to maintain the highest possible sound quality. The LSO will showcase their musicians in a variety of formats:

  • Chamber music by Beethoven, Brahms, and Stravinsky
  • An arrangement of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" for 12 brass players
  • A performance of Mozart's Overture to The Marriage of Figaro
  • A Live recording of Carl Nielsen's Serenata in vano and Beethoven's Septet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 .

On Saturday, September 26, at 6:00 PM, the LSO will release their first live concert recording since the COVID-19 pandemic began. "We think the best way to end a virtual music week is with a live recording," says McIntosh. "We have missed performing in person, mainly because musicians thrive through a sense of space and working off each other's energy. Hopefully, this performance can bridge the gap between virtual and where we want to be as soon as it is safe - performing for a live audience."

The PSMF will feature singers from all over the country. Their performers have appeared with professional opera companies, symphony orchestras, and in concerts throughout the US and abroad. Two of the singers performed in Porgy and Bess at the Metropolitan Opera this past year. While some are new to Lancaster, many of the singers will be familiar to PSMF patrons. Reese Revak, an opera and vocal coach, and a staff pianist at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, PA, will accompany the PSMF. Highlights during Harmonize Lancaster will include:

  • Blake Friedman (Tenor) performing Donezetti's "Ah mes amis" from Daughter of the Regiment.
  • John Kun Park (Tenor) & Anthony Whitson Martini (Baritone) performing Bizet's "Pearl Fishers Duet."
  • Peter Scott Drackley (Tenor) performing "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci
  • Denisha Ballew (Soprano) performing "Ain't It a Pretty Night" from Susannah & Puccini's duet from La Boheme "O soave fanciulla" with Terrence Chin-Loy (Tenor)
  • Kate Jackman (Mezzo Soprano) performing Saint-Saëns "Mon coeur" from Samson et Dalila
  • Hannah Brammer (Soprano) performing Puccini's "Chi il bel sogno di Doretta" from La Rondine Verdi's Quartet from Rigoletto featuring Teresa Castillo (Soprano), Kate Jackman (Mezzo Soprano), Terrence Chin-Loy (Tenor), & Andrew Wannigman (Baritone)

"These arias and ensembles are taken from the world's most famous and beloved composers of the operatic literature," says Drackley. "Our singers are very excited to have the opportunity to share their artistry with the at-home audience."

At-home audiences are encouraged to consider contributing to both organizations. All funds raised will help the LSO and PSMF continue their missions of bringing high-quality music to Lancaster.

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