Arcato Opens Summer with “Seasons”

Logo for Arcato Chamber EnsembleThe Arcato Chamber Ensemble performs its summer concert, “The Seasons,” on Saturday, June 27, at 8 p.m. in Dalton Theatre (Light Fine Arts Building, Kalamazoo College). Tickets–available online or at the door–are $15 for general admission and $5 for students.

Founded in 2008 by conductor Andrew Koehler (associate professor of music), the Arcato Chamber Ensemble is a dynamic orchestra whose membership is drawn from the musicians of the Kalamazoo, West Michigan, Southwest Michigan, Battle Creek, and Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestras, as well as the faculty of Western Michigan University. Despite employing flexible instrumentation, the group’s first performances were as a string ensemble; hence the name Arcato, which means “bowed” in Italian. Numbering just 21 select players, the group unites the grandeur of symphonic sound with the intimacy and individual ownership of artistry that make chamber music so vital.

In its first summer performance this Saturday the Arcato Chamber Ensemble will perform music that celebrates all of the seasons. Beethoven’s beloved slow movement from his late Quartet in a minor, Opus 132–known as the Heiliger Dankgesang, or Holy Song of Thanks–invokes the feelings of gratitude we celebrate in fall, and is among the most profound, personal, and moving creations of the composer. It is heard in a new arrangement for full string ensemble completed by conductor Andrew Koehler. Concertmaster Renata Artman Knific steps into the role of soloist in the electric violin concerto titled “Winter” by Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi. It is the final work from a set of four concerti based on Italian poems about the seasons. Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite, from the ballet written for Martha Graham, is an iconic work of Americana, and it features the famous series of variations on the Shaker hymn “’Tis a Gift to be Simple.” Heard here in its original orchestration for a small chamber ensemble of woodwinds and strings, the work’s poignancy and lyricism are even more apparent. Tchaikovsky spent a summer holiday in Italy, and was inspired to recollect the experience through a work for string sextet, which he titled “Souvenir de Florence.” Arranged here for string orchestra, Tchaikovsky’s work is a rollicking ride, full of breathless excitement and virtuosic playing for every member of the ensemble.