Manchester Symphony Orchestra opens 53rd season Saturday

By Karen Greer
For the Journal Inquirer
October 25, 2012

Joseph Hodge
Joe Hodge

The Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale opens its 53nd season on Saturday, Oct. 27, with a concert by the orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Joseph Hodge.

If classical music held elections, the works on this program would surely be the people’s choice. “United We Stand” is a concert of the music that inspires us all, from Gershwin’s jazz-inspired “Rhapsody in Blue” to Tchaikovsky’s famous “1812 Overture.”

In fact, there will be a candidate on the stage of Manchester Community College’s SBM Auditorium.

Joe Hodge is one of the two finalists for the post of the symphony’s orchestra music director.

Cheung Chau, who directed the orchestra last season, is now the director of orchestra at Utah Valley University and was recently appointed music director of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra in Minnesota.

Hodge is a Hartford resident and is currently music director of the Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, the Hartford Opera Theater, and the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra. He recently graduated from the Hartt School with a master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting and studied under former Hartford Symphony Orchestra Music Director Edward Cumming. The other finalist for the orchestra music director position, Paul Phillips, is scheduled to conduct a concert in February.

The new director will prepare the orchestra for the joint orchestra and chorale concert in April, and then debut in MSOC’s June Pops concert. George Gershwin said that his dynamic, percussive “Rhapsody in Blue,” came to him “on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer.”

Gershwin himself was the pianist at the premiere, and improvised parts of his solos. He was 25 years old, nearly the same age as Corbin Beisner, the pianist for this performance. Beisner, a graduate of the Hartt School, has won numerous awards in piano competitions in the U.S. and Europe.

He has appeared in solo recitals and with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Indiana Lafayette Symphony.

Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” illustrates a “quiet and a melancholy man” in music and in words from Lincoln’s letters and speeches.

Thomas F. Breen, a member of Manchester’s Silk City Chorus who serves on symphony’s board of directors and as a deacon at Manchester’s Church of the Assumption, will be the narrator.

Narrators of Lincoln Portrait have included many notable public figures. A performance by the

Boston Pops at the 2002 Super Bowl included pre-recorded narration by former presidents Ford, Carter, George H. Bush, Clinton, and Reagan.

Copland’s music gives Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” even greater impact, as the nation prepares to choose its leaders.

“United We Stand” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. in the SBM

Foundation Auditorium at Manchester Community College.

Tickets can be purchased at the door. Prices are $18, $15 for seniors and students, and free for those under 18 years of age.

For more information, call 860-646-0047, e-mail MusicSix [at], or visit the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale on its Facebook page or at its website: