Summer music Orchestra begins 40th year of free concerts

The Gateway Festival Orchestra will begin its 40th season of free summer concerts July 6 with a program honoring recently retired conductor William Schatzkamer, professor emeritus of piano in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences.

Subsequent concerts will take place July 13, 20 and 27. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in Brookings Quadrangle. The public is encouraged to bring lawn seating. The rain location is Graham Chapel.

The July 6 concert will open with Antonín Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor (From the New World), a favorite work of Schatzkamer’s and one he conducted frequently throughout his career. Seth Carlin, professor of music and head of piano performance in the Department of Music, will honor his former colleague by appearing as soloist on George Gershwin’s “I got rhythm” variations for piano and orchestra. Gershwin, like Schatzkamer, grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

James Richards, Schatzkamer’s successor with Gateway and a professor of orchestral studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, will conduct Aaron Copland’s Letter From Home. In the 1960s, Copland and Schatzkamer performed together at the University in a rare concert of Copland’s chamber music. As a result of that collaboration, the University’s Gaylord Music Library was one of a select group of institutions to receive a complete set of Copland’s published works, in accordance with Copland’s will.

Schatzkamer, who also conducted the University City Symphony for more than 30 years, is a graduate of The Juilliard School of Music, where he studied with noted Russian pianist Alexander Ziloti. (Ziloti, a former student of Liszt and Tchaikovsky, was cousin to Sergei Rachmaninoff, for whom Schatzkamer also performed.) Prior to his arrival at the University, in 1951 Schatzkamer toured in recitals for Columbia Artists’ Management and for six years shared performances with Paul Robeson, the famed bass baritone and actor.

On July 13, the Gateway Orchestra will perform music of Rossini, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky. The July 20 concert, which focuses on music for the various sections of the orchestra, includes Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony for strings and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture.

The season’s final concert, on July 27, follows a Paris theme and includes the overture to Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne and selections from Lerner and Loewe’s Gigi.

The Gateway Festival Orchestra was established in 1964 by Schatzkamer and other local musicians, in part to provide summer employment to members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Gateway was the first integrated professional orchestra in the St. Louis area and its formation ultimately led to the merger of the Black Musicians’ Association with the Musicians’ Association of St. Louis (now Local 2-197 of the American Federation of Musicians).

The group originally performed on the downtown riverfront but relocated to the University in 1970.

For more information, call 569-0371.