The state's premier professional orchestra is making more efforts to reach and engage communities outside the Denver area. Having played programs at various Front Range locations over the summer, the CSO comes to Boulder at the conclusion of its tour. The city's "seasonal" concert venue is thus an appropriate choice, although the "shift" to Macky Auditorium already happens the previous evening with the Boulder Philharmonic's season opener.
The orchestra's visit to Boulder actually does have a close connection to the local ensemble: One of the works on the Chautauqua program is "Lyric for Strings" by African-American composer George Walker, father of Boulder Phil concertmaster Gregory Walker.
CSO resident conductor Scott O'Neill, who directs the afternoon of all-American classical music, came to know Walker's music through the composer's sister, who taught piano performance at Oberlin College in Ohio.
"I introduced myself and told him how much I enjoyed his music," O'Neill said. "He is a great man and a national treasure. I relish the chance to play his music, which doesn't get the credit it deserves."
The concert also features the beloved "Violin Concerto" by Samuel Barber, played by associate concertmaster Claude Sim, whom O'Neill describes as "one of the stars in our orchestra."
Also on the program is Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait," a patriotic and political tone poem for orchestra with spoken narration. Leonard Barrett Jr. will handle those duties.
O'Neill expressed great enthusiasm for another portion of the concert, "Variations on America" by the country's most enigmatic composer, Charles Ives. "He originally wrote the piece for theater organ," O'Neill said. "The orchestration approximates this sound, and it quite literally has 'all the bells and whistles.' "
The conductor says that it is a lighthearted but patriotic piece that not many people will have heard it. "Once they do, they'll like it as much as we do," he said.
About the community outreach program, O'Neill said that while the orchestra is happy to have people from around the Front Range go to Boettcher Concert Hall, it is also important to bring the music to them once in a while. "We're going to be all over Boulder while we're there," he said.
The concert's "American Fanfare" theme was chosen in anticipation of the November presidential election. The program will also be performed in Denver at the Newman Center on Sept. 25.