November 24, 2008
The Falmouth Chamber Players, a newly organized community orchestra under the direction of John Yankee, presents its premiere concerts on Friday, November 14, at 7 PM, and Sunday, November 16, at 2:30 PM, at the First Congregational Church, 68 Main Street in Falmouth. The concerts are free, but donations are encouraged.
Works on the program include Overture from Water Music by George Frideric Handel; Concerto in e minor for Recorder and Flute featuring Jan Elliott on recorder and Suzie Dasilva on flute; Scherzo from Symphony in C by Georges Bizet; Kamarinskaja by Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka; Andante Cantabile by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky; and Overture to Rosamunde by Franz Schubert.
The concerts are the result of many months of hard work by orchestra members and organizers, led by president Joyce Gindra, who plays oboe in the group. Last winter when she and her neighbor, cellist Carol Knox, got together to play music, they talked about what fun it would be to gather a larger group of musicians together, perhaps a quartet or a quintet. Once the two of them began talking to their musical friends, the group of those interested grew rapidly. By spring, they and the others had decided to form a classical music orchestra for amateur musicians, and they scheduled three sessions in July to see whether local musicians wanted to join the group. They were. The sessions attracted 35 players who play violin, viola, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, trumpet, and bassoon. Ms. Gindra invited John Yankee to be the group’s conductor, and Mr. Yankee, who is also conductor and artistic director of the Falmouth Chorale, musical director of the John Wesley Methodist Church, and active in other musical endeavors on Cape Cod, agreed to work with the orchestra.
After the success of the summer session, orchestra members launched a fall season, culminating in the two performances next week. “It was a surprise, a nice surprise,” said Ms. Gindra, to see how quickly the small ensemble she had envisioned had grown into such a good-sized orchestra. She, like other members of the group, were pleased with Mr. Yankee’s direction. Laura Tutino, also a member of the orchestra’s board, said she was very impressed with Mr. Yankee’s “ability to select music appropriate for the group, interpret it musically, and bring out the best in the individual players.”
Ms. Tutino began piano and violin lessons as a young child and studied violin in college. She played with the Cosmopolitan Young People’s Symphony Orchestra and the Manhattan Symphony Orchestra and was concert mistress of her college orchestra at Lehman (now Hunter) College. Since then, she has played with many chamber music groups, and with her partner, Fritz Sonnichsen, also a violinist with the orchestra, frequently invites other musicians over to play. She is “excited about being in an orchestra again and having the opportunity to present good music to the local community.”
Orchestra member Liz Catapovic, a violinist, is also very enthusiastic. “I cannot say enough positive things about John Yankee. He has brought us a long way in a short time, with his infectiously cheerful attitude always present.”
Ms. Catapovic began violin lessons as an adult about 10 years ago, with her son. She says the orchestra has been a wonderful experience. “Everyone has been very supportive and welcoming. I have made some new friends and really look forward to each rehearsal. My confidence is growing as we are beginning to sound quite good as a group. There are a lot of very talented players and a great team spirit. The group is truly cross-generational and a mix of people with all different interests.”
Being in the orchestra is not easy, however. “The sheer quantity has been difficult for me,” she said, “but slowly, with a lot of extra work, it is coming. I know that it will become easier as I get used to the whole orchestra process. It has been great for my playing skills as well as my reading and counting. . . . I just enjoy each time I play and each bit of progress I make. I play purely because it makes me happy.”
Fran McLean plays flute in the orchestra, and this is her first orchestra experience, though she also plays in Falmouth Town Band and the Falmouth Flute Choir. “This is a learning experience quite different from either Town Band or Flute Choir,” she said. “It is more demanding, but the conductor is very encouraging. He has a great sense of humor.”
Ms. McLean took up the flute as an adult. “The best thing I did was to pick up my daughter’s long-unused flute and make a decision to find a teacher and learn to play. From duets with my teacher, Mary Sholkovitz [now a cellist in the orchestra], I went to Flute Choir, to Town Band, to orchestra. This is fun!” She also has appreciation for the work of the orchestra’s board members. “The unselfish work the organizers have put in to bring this orchestra to its premier performance is amazing. I thank them for their kind invitation to play.”
Board members include Ms. Gindra, Ms. Knox, Ms. Tutino, Mr. Sonnichsen, cellist Wendy Gabriel, violinist Hilde Maingay, and me (I play the cello). “A lot of effort has gone into the organization of the orchestra,” said Ms. Tutino. “We are lucky to have gathered together a great group of people who work together well and who are committed to a common goal.”
In addition to full orchestra performances, members have performed in smaller ensembles at local events throughout the summer and fall, including a fundraiser screening of the film “Radio Cape Cod,” the Falmouth ArtMarket, the Barnstable County Harvest Festival, and the West Falmouth Library. For more information about the orchestra concert or playing in the orchestra, contact Ms. Gindra at 508-540-1896.