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New Horizons Orchestra returns with music of Beethoven, Weber and more

For many musicians, a piece first played in childhood or adolescence stays with them throughout their lives. That’s the case for clarinetist John Pleasant who first performed the Concertino for Clarinet by the 19th century composer Carl Maria von Weber as a high school student in 1968. Pleasant will perform the music again this Sunday, Nov. 7, when the New Horizons Symphony Orchestra returns to the stage under the baton of Jorge Martinez after almost two years.

“[Weber] was basically an opera composer, and he writes for the clarinet in a very operatic way,” Pleasant told Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin in this Zoom interview, which also included conductor Jorge Martinez. “This particular piece unfolds almost like an operatic aria or scene,” he said, noting the melodic writing of the composer and a brief but dramatic opening.

The concert will open with all but one movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2, and will conclude with the overture to “The Barber of Seville,” by Gioachino Rossini, which reverses the usual order of a concert program. Martinez said he chose the Beethoven as a classical work to get the orchestra back in shape. “We wanted a classical concert to develop what we had before the pandemic,” he said, and that the Rossini is a “very funny, witty, explosive overture” that will be festive conclusion.

Martinez also talked about his current studies to earn a doctorate in conducting. “One of the beauties of any form of art is we keep our brains busy,” he said. After a career as a violist and chamber musician, conducting is opening new opportunities for him. “Music is an always-learning process and I’m just grateful to learn more at every rehearsal.”

Listen to Pleasant and Martinez talk more about the music here:

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