When the Reno Philharmonic played its first concert on Aug. 3, 1969, then-music-director Gregory Stone rolled out a lush program populated solely by George Gershwin tunes.
This weekend, in celebration of the philharmonic’s 40th anniversary, new music director and conductor Laura Jackson is taking the orchestra back to its roots. Her first program as artistic leader of the orchestra is an all-Gershwin affair featuring guest vocalist Anita Johnson and Reno pianist Jim Winn.
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Molly Carr is excited to be returning to Reno, if only for a few days.
The 22-year-old violist grew up in the Biggest Little City before moving to New York City to study at the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School and will perform Sunday to benefit the Suzuki Music Association of Reno/Tahoe.
“I’m always excited to come home,” she said. “I didn’t think twice.
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The Reno Chamber Orchestra is putting a local boy in the spotlight this weekend when Christopher Lin-Brande appears as a featured soloist.
Lin-Brande, a violinist, grew up in the Biggest Little City and attended Reno High School before leaving the area to study economics and pre-med at Yale University. He was also a regular fill-in player with the Chamber Orchestra and a contract player with the Reno Philharmonic while living here.
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The Reno Philharmonic has hired Laura Jackson as its new music director and conductor, and executive director Tim Young says she was the favorite not only of the search committee but of orchestra musicians and the public. She is also the first woman to hold the orchestra’s top artistic post.
“I feel ecstatic,” Jackson said. “I really do. It’s often hard to sleep because I have so many ideas percolating in my head. Every piece I hear now, every piece I listen to, I think, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to do this.’ “
Young said the orchestra’s search committee found each of the five finalists impressive, but it was Jackson who made the biggest impression.
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The Reno Chamber Orchestra has been bringing out-of-area soloists to Northern Nevada for most of its 35-year existence, but few have more impressive credentials than bassist Edgar Meyer, who will be featured with the group Saturday and Sunday.
“He certainly is one of the greatest soloists that we will ever play with,” said Scott Faulkner, executive director and bassist with the Chamber Orchestra. “Both in terms of notoriety and just ability, he certainly is at the top of the pile, right up there with the best that have ever played with us. That’s not an overstatement at all.”
Faulkner became one of Meyer’s admirers when he was just a young player studying bass in college.
“I remember the first time that I heard a recording of him,” Faulkner said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my word.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
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Reno pianist James Winn says the Nevada Chamber Music Festival is not only an excellent event for local music lovers, it’s great for local musicians.
“I think it’s good for Reno audiences because they get to hear these wonderful people,” Winn says. “It’s good for Reno musicians because we get to play with these wonderful people and keep our chops up at the level where they belong.”
This year’s festival, which begins Dec. 28, features seven concerts with some of the finest classical musicians in the world. The lineup includes Grammy-nominated violinist James Buswell, world-renowned cellist Clive Greensmith, Los Angeles Philharmonic concertmaster Martin Chalifour and Cleveland Orchestra principal violist Robert Vernon.
These internationally known musicians will perform alongside Winn and other players from Reno, and the locals say that helps them gauge their abilities.
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The Reno Philharmonic will continue its search for a new music director and conductor next week when Christopher Confessore leads the orchestra through two performances. Confessore is resident conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and music director and principal conductor of the Brevard Symphony Orchestra in Florida. He also is one of five finalists competing for the music director job in Reno.
Reno Gazette-Journal arts editor Forrest Hartman had the opportunity to ask him four quick questions in advance of his Sunday and Nov. 18 performances.
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