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Tuesday, July 7, 2020
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOAkropolis Reed Quintet, 3 p.m. March 15, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOAkropolis Reed Quintet, 3 p.m. March 15, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

Akropolis Reed Quintet to play in ‘Chamber on Stage’ concert

Friday, March 13, 2020 by KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS Special to The Press in Focus

A program of American music from the last century played on oboe, clarinet, saxophone and bassoon highlights the next concert in Allentown Symphony’s two-year-old “Chamber on Stage” series.

The award-winning Akropolis Reed Quintet performs, 3 p.m. March 15, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

Akropolis Reed Quintet will present its “These American Stories,” which features Gershwin’s famous “American in Paris” arranged for reed quintet, as well as an arrangement of Nina Simone’s “For All We Know.”

The innovative and genre-pushing quintet fits perfectly in with the goal of the series, which Allentown Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor Diane Wittry says is to give audiences variety in chamber music.

Since it started in 2018, the series has featured a saxophone quartet, string quartet, mixed quartets and an Italian pianist. Next up is Argentinian organist Hector Olivera, April 20.

Akropolis Reed Quintet, founded in 2009 by five students attending the University of Michigan, has since won seven national chamber music prizes, including the Fischoff Gold Medal, Fischoff Educator Award, Plowman Grand Prize and MTNA Grand Prize.

The group is: Tim Gocklin, oboe; Kari Landry, clarinet; Matt Landry, saxophone; Ryan Reynolds, bassoon, and Andrew Koeppe, bass clarinet.

“Our goal is to bring new music to new places,” says Landry, executive director of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization the quintet created to support its educational efforts.

The group strives to expand the reach and repertoire of the reed quintet. In the more than 10 years since it formed, Akropolis has commissioned more than 70 pieces for reed quintet, developed an annual chamber music festival, recorded three albums and created a sustainable nonprofit organization.

Landry says one of the hallmarks of Akropolis is teaching and performing for students. The group has held 412 educational events for 41,560 students around the world.

The year 2020 is exciting for Akropolis, which will be in residence at three Detroit high schools, leading students through a year-long music composition and recording project, and partnering with University of Michigan Symphony Band students and composer Roshanne Etezady to premiere “Storm Warning,” the first-ever concerto for reed quintet and wind band.

“These American Stories,” the concert Akropolis will present in Allentown, combines the musicians’ desire to educate and cutting-edge repertoire.

The narrative program highlights influential music by American composers. Each work tells its story from a different perspective at a unique moment of realization or imagination.

The concert demonstrates how Americas music has come of age in the past 100 years and, through it all, has maintained an American vocabulary.

Selections include imaginative works by Ives and Gershwin presented alongside present-day music by John Steinmetz, Jeff Scott,and Logan Rutledge.

Steinmetz’s “Sorrow and Celebration for reed quintet and audience” is an original work created for Akropolis. “Point Blank,” written by Rutledge, celebrates the life of Trayvon Martin.

The program features acclaimed composer Jeff Scott’s first reed quintet work inspired by “And Still We Rise,” an exhibit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

In addition to George Gershwin’s “American in Paris,” the quintet will perform Ives’ “The Alcotts” from Piano Sonata No. 2.

The concert closes with an arrangement of Simone’s version of the Coots-Lewis’ favorite, “For All We Know.”

In the “Chamber on Stage” series, Akropolis performs at the edge of the stage in Miller Symphony, but with the performers’ backs to the orchestra seats in which the audience usually sits. Audience members will be seated at the back of the stage, facing the performers.

Wittry says the unusual set-up creates the feeling of an intimate space, while still taking full advantage of the acoustics and grandeur of Miller Symphony Hall.

Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall box office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; www.millersymphonyhall.org; 610-432-6715