Gateway Festival Orchestra opens 46th season with American classics

The Gateway Festival Orchestra will begin its 46th season of free Sunday evening performances at 7:30 p.m. July 12 in Brookings Quadrangle with a program celebrating American music.

James Richards, chair of the Department of Music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, conducts the orchestra, which also will perform July 19 and 26.

The July 12 concert will highlight the music of Broadway, with orchestral excerpts from “Wicked” and other popular musicals.

The orchestra also will perform the “Armed Forces Salute,” a medley of official songs representing each branch of the armed forces, arranged by Robert Lowden; the iconic march “The Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa; and “Gypsy Airs” by Pablo Sarasate.

Soloist for “Gypsy Airs” will be 12-year-old violinist Rebekah Heckler of Godfrey, Ill. Heckler serves as concertmaster of the Alton Youth Orchestra and performs with the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.

For the July 19 concert, Richards has chosen a selection of works representing the major composers of the Viennese Classical era.

The program will open with the overture to the opera “Cosi fan tutte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. David Gillham — violinist in the Arianna String Quartet and associate professor of music at UMSL — will be featured artist for the “Concerto in C Major for Violin and Orchestra” by Franz Joseph Haydn. Concluding the program will be “Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major” (“Eroica”) by Ludwig van Beethoven.

The final concert, on July 26, will juxtapose works by Old World and New World composers.

Representing the Old World are Beethoven’s overture to his incidental music for the ballet “The Creatures of Prometheus” and Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Concerto in E Major for Violin and Orchestra,” the latter featuring soloist Jasmine Scott of Smithton, Ill. Scott plays in the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and was a 2009 winner at the Alton Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition.

Representing the New World is “City by the Lake: a Portrait of Rochester, New York,” by Samuel Adler. Born in Germany in 1928, Adler emigrated to the United States with his family in 1939. He is professor emeritus at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and teaches composition at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

Concluding the concert — and spanning both Old and New Worlds — will be “Symphony No. 9 in E minor (From the New World)” by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. From 1892-95, Dvorak served as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City, during which time he composed both the “New World Symphony” and his “String Quartet No. 12 (American).”

The Gateway Festival Orchestra was established in 1964 by conductor William Schatz-kamer, 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 WUSTL in 1970.

All concerts are free and open to the public. Those attending are encouraged to bring lawn seating.

For more information, contact the Gateway Festival Orchestra at 569-0371 or visit