Cape Community Orchestra Celebrates 30th Anniversary

The Cape Community Orchestra, under the direction of John P. Hagon, presents its fall concerts in honor of its 30th anniversary on Friday, November 22, at 7:30 PM at the Yarmouth Senior Center, 528 Forest Road, and Sunday, November 24, at 3 PM at St. John Paul II High School, 120 High School Road, Hyannis.

The orchestra will celebrate its 30th season with anniversary concerts in November and in May 2020. The programs for both the spring and the fall will feature favorite music the orchestra has performed in the past. Conductor Hagon, who recently celebrated his 60th year of conducting, has been conducting the CCO since September 2001.

“Since I became the conductor of the orchestra in 2001 I have seen enormous growth in not only the size of the group, but also the ability of its members to handle more technically difficult music as the seasons progressed,” said Hagon. “It has been my pleasure to have worked with so many professional and amateur musicians from Cape Cod.”

The orchestra was founded in 1990, when Peg Carver-Shad, the choir director of the First Congregational Church UCC in Harwich, asked Cindy (Erickson) Blanchard, who had majored in music and had experience in conducting, to help her start a community orchestra.

The first rehearsal was small: a saxophone player, a trumpet player, both in the ninth grade, and Carver-Shad on French horn. But the orchestra grew quickly. Strings were added at the next rehearsal, and, within a few months, there were 20 people making music together.

Soon the Academy of Performing Arts asked Blanchard to start an orchestra of their students and community musicians. Violinist Kwon Faith, then 9 years old, was one of the first to join. She is now concert master of the Cape Community Orchestra. “Joining the orchestra made all the difference for me,” she said. “It really motivated me to continue playing.”

Flutist Peggy Gerber also joined early on and is still a member. The orchestra has had several conductors since Blanchard in 1997, including Bob Brimmer, Richard Winchell, and Hagon.

For the fall concerts, the orchestra will perform excerpts from Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, Copland’s Variations on a Shaker Melody, two pop classics by Leroy Anderson, Rossini’s William Tell Overture, and more.

Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B Minor is known as his Unfinished Symphony because he completed only two movements: an Allegro Moderato and an Andante Con moto. Yet it is considered one of Schubert’s most beautiful works. Composed in 1822, when Schubert was 25, the symphony was not performed until 1865, 37 years after his death.

Music critic Eduard Hanslick wrote of that first performance, “The whole [first] movement is a sweet stream of melodies, in spite of its vigor and geniality so crystal-clear that you can see every pebble on the bottom…. [The Andante is] a song full of intimate, quiet happiness, clouds of a musical thunderstorm reflecting musical effect, rather than dangerous passion…. The sonorous beauty of both movements is enchanting.”

“Variations on a Shaker Theme” is part of Aaron Copland’s Pulitzer Prize-winning composition Appalachian Spring, which was written in 1944 as a ballet for Martha Graham. “Variations” is based on the tune “Simple Gifts,” written by Joseph Brackett in 1848. The music depicts scenes in the daily life of a pioneering young farm couple starting life in the wilderness, contemplating their future.

The orchestra will perform two pieces by Leroy Anderson, who wrote over 50 jazz pop classics, almost exclusively for the Boston Pops. “Jazz Legato” (1938) was one of his first compositions and immediately became an audience favorite. “Blue Tango,” his most covered piece, was written in 1951 and became the number one song of 1952.

Written in 1829, “William Tell” was the last and most ambitious of Gioacchino Rossini’s (1792-1868) 39 operas. The story takes place in medieval Switzerland, which was ruled by the Austrians. William Tell, an archer and Swiss patriot, inspires the Swiss soldiers who ultimately save the day. The Overture was written in four movements, similar to a symphony. It opens with a lyrical cello solo that depicts dawn in the Swiss countryside and ends with the thundering march of the soldiers that has been used, not only as the theme of “The Lone Ranger,” but also in a multitude of cartoons, commercials, and films.

Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. A non-profit organization, Cape Community Orchestra Inc. is supported by private contributions and grants from local and regional institutions, including the Cape Cod Melody Tent.

For more information, visit the orchestra’s website at capecommunityorchestra.org

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