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Celebrating 40 Years of Democratic Musicmaking


Gisèle Ben-Dor (file photo)

The inmates of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra have been running the institution since its emergence in 1978. On January 21st, “one of the only self-governing chamber orchestras in the nation” [not to neglect the conductorless string orchestra A Far Cry], celebrates its 40th season. Music Director Emerita Gisèle Ben-Dor​ (New York Philharmonic, London Symphony), dubbed a “ferocious talent” by The Los Angeles Times, returns to highlight the orchestra’s 40 years. Former Pro Arte cooperative musician Jeffrey Work (Principal trumpet, Oregon Symphony) reprises his performance of American composer Eric Ewazen’s expressive Concerto for Trumpet and Strings. Composed in 1998, a subsequent arrangement was written to feature Work for Orchestra, which was commissioned and premiered by Pro Arte in 2003 and conducted by Ben-Dor. Pro Arte will revisit this piece with the original performers alongside new cooperative members. Gounod’s 1885 Petite Symphonie pays charming homage to the Classical-era wind ensembles of the previous century. And Beethoven’s iconic Symphony No. 5. brings the program to a triumphant close at First Baptist Church of Newton 848 Beacon Street, Newton Centre next Sunday at 3:00.

Beginning with their institutional self-discovery in the basement of the Church of the Covenant in Boston in collaboration with founding music director Larry Hill, Pro Arte musicians—all professional freelance players in the Boston area— have made music of their own choosing. Each has enjoyed a sense of ownership as a contributing member of the cooperative process. Pro Arte musicians take pride in the music they produce, which they believe carries over to a satisfied audience. As part of a cooperative orchestra, our players have collaborated—with each other and with their conductors and guest artists, with its Board and Advisors, and with the larger world. Under the batons of Larry Hill, Gisèle Ben-Dor, Isaiah Jackson, and current principal conductor Kevin Rhodes, players have forged life-long friendships with each other and have honed the nuances of their crafts. They have been inspired by the chance to work with some of the finest musicians on the planet, including Gunther Schuller, Eliot Fisk, Mark O’Connor, and Yo-Yo Ma, fiddler Mark O’Connor, and radio celebrity Garrison Keillor. Pro Arte has also performed over 81 world premieres, 3 U.S. premieres, and 6 regional premieres. They have been the proud recipient of numerous grants and awards for community engagement, adventurous programming and exceptional outreach. 

Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston January 21, 2018, 3:00
First Baptist Church of Newton 848 Beacon Street, Newton Centre

Gounod: Petite Symphonie in B-flat Major for 9 Wind Instruments
Ewazen: Concerto for Trumpet and Strings Jeffrey Work, trumpet
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5

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  1. I am the proud boardchair of this gem of an orchestra. Thank you for publishing this wonderful article! Forty years is quite an accomplishment! Pro Arte is known for its creative programming, combining the oft rarely heard with traditional warhorses. Next Sunday’s Concert is no exception. Come and enjoy!

    Comment by Genie Ware — January 15, 2018 at 11:35 am

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