BlueWater Chamber Orchestra presents "Strings Galore": Jacob Sustaita

[photo: Jacob Sustaita / by Mark Satola]
[photo: Jacob Sustaita / by Mark Satola]
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“Strings Galore” is the title of BlueWater Chamber Orchestra’s second concert of the 2016-17 season.  The program will be presented on November 5, 2016, at 7:30 PM at Plymouth Church UCC, 2860 Coventry Road, Shaker Heights.  This performance features the sumptuous string section of the orchestra, led by guest conductor Jacob Sustaita, Assistant Conductor of the Akron Symphony Orchestra.  Bartok’s dramatic Divertimento for Strings highlights the concert.  Seldom heard works by African-American composers George Walker and William Grant Still and the classic Adagio and Fugue, K. 546 by Mozart will also be performed.  The concert will be repeated in a special free offering in Tremont on Sunday, November 6, 2016, at 4 PM at Pilgrim Congregational Church UCC on West 14th Street.  The second performance is a continuation of BlueWater’s Near West Neighborhood Series, sponsored in part by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

Jacob Sustaita has served as Assistant Conductor of the Akron Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Akron Youth Symphony since the summer of 2015.  He is also Director of Orchestral Studies at Sam Houston State University.  Past positions include three-year tenures with the Minnesota Philharmonic and the Southeast Texas Youth Symphony.  Sustaita was a semi-finalist at the Cadáques International Conducting Competition in Barcelona, Spain in 2013.  He holds degrees from the University of Houston, Penn State, and Rice University and has been awarded the Schissler Conducting Fellowship, the Rice University Prize and Provost Fellowship, and was an American Prize finalist.   His teachers and mentors have included Franz Krager, Brett Mitchell, Christopher Wilkins, Gerardo Edelstein, and Paavo Järvi.

Composed just before Bartok fled Hungary at the outbreak of WWII, the Divertimento for Strings was commissioned by his patron Paul Sacher, the Swiss conductor of the Basel Chamber Orchestra.  Sacher had expressed a desire for a piece that recalled the spirit of the 18th century, and Bartok obliged with this work which celebrates aspects of the baroque concerto grosso.  The Divertimento is full of dynamic contrasts, fugal writing, and both neoclassical and modern tonality, making it an accessible and exciting aural experience.

William Grant Still is often considered the “Dean of African-American Composers,” having composed five symphonies and eight operas.  He was the first African-American to conduct a major symphony orchestra.  Although born in Mississippi, he received much of his education in Ohio, attending both Wilberforce University and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.   George Walker is also a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and later studied at the Curtis Institute of Music.  He is the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music, receiving it in 1996 for Lilacs, a composition for voice and orchestra.  The BlueWater strings will perform short, lyrical and moving pieces by these two American musicians—Danzas de Panama by Still and Lyric for Strings by Walker.

Although most often performed by a string quartet, the Adagio and Fugue, K. 546 is indicated in Mozart’s autograph as being composed for full string orchestra.  The adagio is in the French overture style, while the fugue is based on one written earlier for two pianos.  BlueWater’s full string orchestra performance showcases the sonorities of this beautiful work.   

BlueWater Chamber Orchestra concerts are family friendly, lasting about 75 minutes and played without intermission.  Plymouth Church UCC is wheelchair accessible.

Tickets may be purchased at the door:  $25, $20 seniors, $10 student.  A special Family Ticket (2 adults, 2 students) is also available for $50.  Tickets may also be ordered online at www.bluewaterorchestra.com or by phone 440-781-6215.  Discounts are applied to advance purchases.

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