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Classical 101

The inaugural season of the Worthington Chamber Orchestra

Antoine Clark conducting the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra
Jennifer Zmuda
/
Courtesy of Antoine Clark
Antoine Clark conducts the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra, now the Worthington Chamber Orchestra.

A local orchestra will come into its own when it performs its first concert as the Worthington Chamber Orchestra.

Founded in 2013 as the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra (MACCO), the Worthington Chamber Orchestra (WCO) will, moving forward, perform as an entity separate from McConnell Arts Center. The Worthington-based arts center will serve as WCO’s fiscal sponsor while the orchestra gains its footing as an independent non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status.

Antoine Clark, the founder, artistic director, and music director of MACCO and now of WCO, says the orchestra’s transition to independence will enable it to foster broader and deeper relationships in the Worthington community.

“We still have the same musicians, I’m still the same artistic/music director,” said Clark, who lives in Worthington. “But what’s different is that we are an independent organization separate from the McConnell Arts Center (MAC), the parent organization that really helped found the original orchestra. So now that we are our own entity, this flexibility allows us to get out into the community and get to know more of the people there and work outside the MAC.”

Classical 101's Jennifer Hambrick interviews Antoine Clark, artistic and music director of the Worthington Chamber Orchestra

In addition to retaining MACCO’s musicians, who all live in the Columbus area, WCO will also carry forward MACCO’s mission. Clark founded the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra with the mission to support local musicians, foster diverse programming, and enrich the lives of local school students through educational programs.

“When I founded the orchestra, I thought about the ways it could benefit the community,” Clark said. “I thought about how it could give a lot of the musicians in the area an opportunity to perform. I thought about programming, and a lot of that was connected to diversity, making sure that we’re promoting women and people of color. And another big component of it is education. We have really gone out into the community and been able to perform at some of the elementary schools, or even have students bused in to the McConnell Arts Center.”

In its first three performances of the 2022-23 season, WCO will launch its Family and Education Series. The performances will feature Prokofiev’s symphonic fairy tale Peter and the Wolf in a production made in 2019 in collaboration with Worthington-based Hixon Dance.

Hixon Dance Guest Artist David John Krohn will narrate and dance the role of the grandfather in the classic children’s tale of a boy’s adventures beyond his family’s farm. The story’s menagerie of other characters will also be danced to Prokofiev’s iconic score. The performances will take place Sat., Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Sun., Oct. 2 at 3 p.m. in the McConnell Arts Center’s Bronwynn Theatre.

In November WCO will unveil its Benedicta Enrile Masterworks Series, three concerts of beloved and new orchestral repertoire. This season’s Masterworks theme is “New Horizons.”

“Although we’ve been around for nine seasons, it’s the (orchestra’s) first season as an independent organization, and we really are committed to the vision and mission that we’ve set out. So we have new possibilities before us as we grow and become even a bigger part of the Worthington Community,” Clark said.

The first concert on WCO’s new Benedicta Enrile Masterworks Series will feature the world premiere of Columbus composer Linda Kernohan’s A World in Which Such Beauty Exists. Borne of the composer’s struggles with depression, Kernohan’s work will be performed alongside Beethoven’s Second Symphony, which Beethoven composed while battling the emotional and physical challenges of hearing loss. Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture is also on the program, which will be performed Sun., Nov. 13 at 3 p.m. at the McConnell Arts Center.

The remaining concerts on WCO’s Masterworks series will take place at Worthington United Methodist Church. WCO will perform works by Tchaikovsky, Glazunov and Mozart on the second Masterworks concert, Sun., Feb. 5 at 5 p.m. The third Masterworks concert will feature soprano soloist Laura Portune in a program of songs, lighter classics and hit Broadway numbers on Sun., May 7 at 5 p.m.

The concerts at Worthington United Methodist Church continue Clark’s vision to take WCO beyond the walls of the MAC and into the Worthington community. The orchestra performed this summer on the Worthington Green during the Farmer’s Market, and Clark says he envisions future performances at other locations around Worthington.

And even as WCO expands its performance options beyond the MAC, Clark says he hopes the orchestra will continue to perform at its original home.

One of the things I would love to do in programming is do smaller chamber concerts. The MAC has a very beautiful, intimate space for those types of things, so we look to continue to work with them in the future,” Clark said.

Jennifer Hambrick unites her extensive backgrounds in the arts and media and her deep roots in Columbus to bring inspiring music to central Ohio as Classical 101’s midday host. Jennifer performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before earning a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.