Gateway Festival Orchestra to perform throughout July

The Gateway Festival Orchestra begins its 45th season of free Sunday-evening performances July 6 with a program of American music designed to celebrate the Independence Day weekend.

Subsequent concerts, which are free and open to the public, will be held July 13, 20 and 27. All begin at 7:30 p.m., and all, with the exception of the July 27 performance, take place in Brookings Quadrangle. The public is encouraged to bring lawn seating to those concerts.

The July 6 concert features works by Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Henry Mancini, John Williams and John Philip Sousa. James Richards, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, conducts the orchestra. Jessica Platt, who teaches at Webster University’s Community Music School, appears as soloist in Barber’s Violin Concerto.

The season continues July 13 and 20. On July 13, the orchestra highlights dance music — from the polka and waltz to the can-can — by John Cheetham, Johann Strauss Jr., Jacques Offenbach and Alexander Borodin. The July 20 program features works by Austrian-born composers Franz Schubert and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Andrew George, winner of the Saint Louis Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, appears as soloist for Mozart’s Concerto for Clarinet.

The music of Italy dominates the concluding concert, which takes place July 27 in Graham Chapel and features works by Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Verdi and Pietro Mascagni. Kristy Yang, winner of St. Louis’ 2008 Italian-American Piano Competition, is the soloist for Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto. Capriccio Italien, an homage to Italy by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, closes the program.

The Gateway Festival Orchestra was established in 1964 by conductor William Schatzkamer, WUSTL professor emeritus in piano in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, 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, contact the Gateway Festival Orchestra at 741-5948 or