Classical Music Is on the Way With Chamber Orchestra’s New Season

Barbara Arnold

DON’T JUST ROLL OUT THE RED CARPET, COVER THE WHOLE FLOOR! The Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra will present their new season almost entirely at the Pablo Center at the Confluence.
DON’T JUST ROLL OUT THE RED CARPET, COVER THE WHOLE FLOOR! The Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra will present their new season almost entirely at the Pablo Center at the Confluence.

"A confluence of ideas, textures, themes, rhythms, and expressions” is the focus of the 2019-20 six-concert season of the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra, according to Dr. Frank A. Watkins, the ensemble’s music director. “We are excited to collaborate with so many fabulous artists this season,” he said.

Last year was the first season for ECCO at the Pablo Center at the Confluence, the community’s new performing arts venue. 

“We’re elated to perform there again this season,” Watkins said. “The Pablo Center adds a certain freshness to classical music performance, and the rehearsal spaces and performance venues are stellar.” All concerts will be held at the Pablo Center except the March 15 performance, which will be at a local church.

The 2019-20 season debuts at 2pm Sunday, Sept. 29, in the Pablo Center’s RCU Theatre with pieces by composers Sir Paul McCartney, Ernest Bloch, and Gabriel Fauré. The concert includes orchestral pieces from McCartney’s Working Classical album. Pianists Lori Cruciani will take the stage in Bloch’s “Concerto Grosso No. 1” and Namji Kim will solo in Fauré’s “Ballade for Piano and Orchestra in F Sharp Major.”

The second concert of the season at 7pm Saturday, Nov. 16, will be an evening of Holst and Mozart, featuring Holst’s “Lyric for Viola and Orchestra” with Eva Tibbets, viola, and Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 27 in B Flat” with Nicholas Phillips, piano.  

The annual free and interactive “Concert for Family & Friends” will be at 2pm Saturday, Jan. 25, with Saint-Saens’ classic “Carnival of the Animals,” which will teach young listeners about the various instruments in the orchestra, how they work, and what they sound like.

The two concerts in March focus on Dan Forrest’s  “Lux: The Dawn from on High.” The fourth concert Choral Images 2020: Lux: The Dawn from On High will be at 2pm Sunday, March 15, at First Congregational Church, 310 Broadway St., Eau Claire. ECCO and the Master Singers will collaborate to perform “Lux.” A week later, at 7:30pm Saturday March 21, at the Pablo Center, guest conductor Guillermo Munoz will make his stage debut directing ECCO in Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 1” and co-conducting “Luz” with Dr. Gary R. Schwartzhoff and The Master Singers.

The final concert of the season on Saturday, May 16, at 7:30pm – “American Dreams” – will celebrate American composers and their works, including Walter Piston’s “Sinfonietta,” Howard Hanson’s “Pastorale for Harp and Oboe,” Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” and Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville Summer of 1915.” Featured artists include oboist Steven Maijala , harpist Serena O’Meara, and soprano Diana Cataldi.

ECCO is made up of 40 professional musicians who audition for their spots to bring chamber orchestra music to the area. Some travel from as far away as the Twin Cities for rehearsals and concerts.


Tickets are on sale at the Pablo Center at pablocenter.org. Adults are $29; youth under age 21 are $5. Tickets for all concerts of the 2019-20 season can be purchased for $95, a $50 savings.

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