Sometimes, in the course of our hectic lives, it’s easy to forget — or not even notice — the little things that make living in Frederick County great. In that spirit, I launched, “What I Love in Frederick this Week”: the best food, drink, shows, shopping, and events coming to the city. If you love something in Frederick, let me know. Submissions can be emailed to email@example.com or tweeted to @kamamasters.
This week: The Frederick Symphony Orchestra Camerata
This week’s What I Love comes courtesy of reader Mary Ann Chandler, who emailed me her suggestion last week:
“The classical music lover in me loves that the Frederick Symphony Orchestra offers several summer performances of their smaller group, the Camerata, at different locations around Frederick,” she wrote. “The last one this summer is Friday 8/16 ... at the Sky Stage.”
Thanks, Mary Ann!
Until her email, I had no idea that the FSO offered break-off performances, let alone free ones. I called associate conductor Andy Rosenfeld, who confirmed that the orchestra started organizing free summer concerts five years ago as a way to raise its profile in the community. The concerts are offered by the FSO Camerata, a fancy musical term that essentially means “chamber ensemble,” he said.
Every summer, a group of 10 to 15 musicians gather for a handful of concerts across Frederick County, from the Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg to Baker Park in Frederick.
“We wanted to form a group that would allow us to go into the community and do performances in unusual venues,” Rosenfeld said. “And, of course, expand the visibility of the orchestra by offering programming year-round.”
It’s led to some pretty cool concerts over the years. In 2016, the Camerata performed live soundtracks for three silent films — including Buster Keaton’s “Cops” and Charlie Chaplin’s “The Immigrant” — at the Baker Park Band Shell. They’ve organized concerts at smaller venues around the county, including Zion Lutheran Church in Middletown, and visited Community Living in Frederick for private performances.
Concertmaster Alyssa Boxhill, who performs with the Camerata, said she’d love to see the group expand its reach even further with concerts in southern areas of the county, including Urbana. She also has some ideas for expanding their future repertoire with out-of-the-box ideas.
“Andy and I have talked about trying to do a spoken-word collaboration,” Boxhill said. “I’d love to see us do ‘The Soldier’s Tale’ by Igor Stravinsky, which involves narration. It’s just a matter of finding enough available musicians.”
Rosenfeld is equally excited about the program for the Camerata’s final performance of 2019. On Friday, the ensemble will stage a rendition of Claude Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun,” a “modern French masterpiece,” he said, that was reworked by composer Arnold Schoenberg for a smaller orchestra.
They’ll also play two “seasons” — Winter and Spring — from “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires,” a set of tango compositions by Argentinian composer Ástor Piazzolla. On the same program, they’ll perform a version of “Bill” from the 1927 musical “Show Boat,” arranged by Camerata oboist Rob Renshaw.
The diverse range of songs is a testament to the ensemble’s equally diverse abilities, Rosenfeld said — and the wide selection of compositions for a smaller orchestra.
“The nice thing is that we’re not restricted to any particular age or style of music,” he added. “We’re not going to be performing great big Beethoven or Mahler symphonies, but lots of composers write music specifically for smaller ensembles.”
As for his own plans for the Camerata, Rosenfeld kept things vague.
“Let’s just say that I have enough music to keep many seasons going,” he joked.
He prefers to organize his concerts around broad themes rather than particular compositions. Friday’s performance will focus on early 20th century music.
Follow Kate Masters on Twitter @kamamasters.