The first four installments of the 2020 season’s Into the Music with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra series featured string players of all kinds — violinists, violists, cellists and a bassist, too — until the fifth took a trip to the last row of the symphony, underscoring woodwinds.
For this week’s edition of Into the Music, another new sound is coming to the virtual stage.
“It’s unusual and exciting to be able to feature the horns this time around,” said French horn player Donna Dolson. “I think people will enjoy a different symphonic sound, a twist on some of their old favorites. Maybe they can find a new favorite while we’re at it.”
In “Hear about Horns,” CSO French horn players Dolson, Bill Bernatis and Mark Robbins will be joined by Bill Caballero, the CSO’s go-to substitute principal horn, in music that will give an exclusive view of this special section at 8:15 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 18, on the CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch.
“It is wonderful to sit with your friends, make music, laugh and play a phrase or two,” Dolson said. “Really, it’s just great to be playing with someone other than ourselves. It has been so long and we are just so grateful. I can’t express the joy.”
Whether Chautauquans first heard the pieces while watching Westerns on television or through students from the School of Music Voice Program and Music School Festival Orchestra performing on the Amphitheater stage, Bernatis said the program is sure to show off the French horn’s range and beauty.
“We are playing things (the audience) will recognize, but the selections are intentionally versatile,” Bernatis said. “We have everything from classics to film favorites, which is how I know we are going to have fun with this concert — there is something here for everyone to enjoy.”
To kick off the night’s program, the quartet will perform John Williams’ “The Cowboys,” a horn adaptation of the overture from the 1972 American Western film starring John Wayne.
“It’s an old-standby Western, but we love playing it because everyone, no matter how old they are, will recognize this music at one point or another,” Bernatis said. “This is a start that is catered toward every generation.”
Filling the middle of the performance are classical transcriptions such as Johann Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Pizzicato Ostinato” from Symphony #4 in F minor, Op. 36, Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus,” Alexander Tcherepnine’s “La Chasse,” and even a Bavarian Ländler, a folk dance made popular at the end of the 18th century in Austria, Bavaria, German Switzerland and Slovenia.
“We really wanted to keep our concert light in nature, so even the classics are lighthearted, joyful and fun to listen to,” Dolson said. “With so much going on in the world, our music should lift us up.”
The concert is set to end with George Bizet’s “Carmen Suite,” orchestral music drawn from Bizet’s 1875 opera Carmen.
“I would be genuinely surprised if anyone from Chautauqua didn’t already know and love this music,” Dolson said. “It’s a staple, that’s for sure.”
According to Bernatis, the quartet will give perspective on “how the horn is used in the orchestra” throughout the evening, but the concert aims to “sound as if the symphony is still in sync.”
“For me, these (Into the Music) performances are more about keeping the orchestra visible than they are about making the horns, or any other group, stand out from the rest on our usual stage,” Bernatis said. “We want to give Chautauquans some part of us to hold on to here.”