Headline: Have an up close, personal experience of orchestral music
It’s a Tuesday night at nearby Murray Middle School and the St. Augustine Orchestra is gathered in a music room, instrument cases dotted about, horns playing scales, bows having rosin applied, a variety of timpani and cymbals being carried in, and chatter fills the room. When Artistic Director Scott Gregg walks in, the room quiets, the Concert Master tunes, and musicians start their weekly 2.5 hours rehearsal for their next performance. Fast forward to concert night, and this 55-person Orchestra will be dressed in black, staged inside the Alcazar Café of the Lightner Museum, lights dimmed, ready to sparkle to a packed house. “We like the lively acoustics of this historic space, that was originally the world’s largest indoor swimming pool when the Museum was the Hotel Alcazar in the late 1800s – it’s a beautiful space to perform in,” said Mitch Kolesaire, Board Chairman, and its principal string bass player. “What’s important is that the audience has a great experience at our concerts, being just feet away from us, and we enjoy the interactions with them during the performance and at intermission,” he said. Aside from the intimate experience being seated close to the Orchestra, audiences are treated to a diverse range of programming each Season, from celebrating the recent 50th anniversary of the moon landing, to a patriotic focus on American composers, or masterworks performances of European pieces. “There is a huge body of great symphonic compositions, so I am deliberate in balancing well-known pieces with classical gems that may be lesser known but are excellent works,” said Artistic Director Gregg, adding “I’ve designed each Season to feature masterworks performances, pops, and of course, our celebrated holiday concert.” Prior to joining the St. Augustine Orchestra, he was Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras, and Music Director for Education of the Jacksonville Symphony. The St. Augustine Orchestra is a year away from turning 60 and celebrating its Diamond Anniversary. Come experience what is delighting audiences from around the First Coast and listen to local.
St. Augustine is the hub of music and the arts in St. Johns County, attracting residents and visitors from diverse backgrounds who share these passions. It’s also true of the musicians drawn to be members of the Orchestra. The principal cellist, Alexander Lynn, is a young jeweler; a first violin, Dorothy Barrett, is a 2019 recipient of the St. Johns Cultural Council’s ROWITA Awards (that celebrate women who’ve made significant contributions to the Arts community); Heather Turvey, principal viola, is a former member of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra; Jason Harris is a Masters of Music who plays tuba; and the list – or shall we say the beat – goes on! “Artistic excellence attracts top talent and that translates into a rich musical experience for our audience,” said Allyson Breger, the Orchestra’s Executive Director, former music educator, as well as a percussionist and trumpet player.
The St. Augustine Orchestra next performs at the Lightner Museum on March 5th and again on May 8th (perfect timing for an early Mother’s Day gift). Tickets are available at staugustineorchestra.ticketleap.com. The Orchestra’s website is staugustineorchestra.com and there is a large following on Facebook. The Orchestra is looking for additional musicians to the nine new people added this Season. There is always a need for string players as well as brass instruments and percussions. Interested musicians can look under “Prospective Members” on the website for details.