Montclair Orchestra thinking outside the box as it launches first season



Montclair Orchestra music director David Chan.

In a March event at the Montclair Public Library introducing the new Montclair Orchestra to the local community, orchestra president Andre Weker defined the orchestra by saying what it is not.

It’s not, he said, a community orchestra, or a student orchestra, or a professional orchestra, or a jazz orchestra, or a symphony orchestra, or a pops orchestra.

“So if that’s not what we are, what are we?” Weker asked. “We’re an orchestra that’s designed for whatever music is being played. If we put together a program, we are going to put together an ensemble that matches that program. That may be a large symphony orchestra. It may be a jazz-type ensemble. There’s lots of different components to what we will bring in.”

This will be possible, Weker said, because of the large number of talented musicians in the Montclair area. “This is one of the only places where something like this can really happen, because we have so much talent to draw from,” he said.

The new orchestra’s inaugural season begins Oct. 22 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The program, titled “Operatic Connections,” will feature works by Verdi, Mozart and Mahler

Other concerts in the first season, which will include six events in five different Montclair locations, will feature themes such as “Change,” “Contrast” and “Balletic Reinvention.”

David Chan, a violinist who has been the concertmaster of the MET Orchestra since 2000 and is also the artistic director of Musique et Vin au Clos Vougeot festival in the Burgundy region of France, is the orchestra’s music director. He will also be the featured violinist in the “Change” program.

“When you start a new orchestra like this, you have the chance to go outside the box,” said Chan.

He said that if you want to do something new at a more established organization, “you fight the board for years, you fight the management for years, and finally they agree to it. And in return, you have to do 17 other programs of exactly the variety … that that audience expects. And that’s fully understandable.”

With the Montclair Orchestra, though, going outside the box is “what we’re all about. We have not only the chance to do that, this is really our niche to do something that will separate us from the others.”

Here is the orchestra’s schedule. All venues are in Montclair. For information, visit

Oct. 22: “Operatic Connections” at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Ying Fang, soprano. Program includes Verdi’s Overture to La forza del destino; Mozart’s Symphony No. 29; Mahler’s Symphony No. 4.

Nov. 5: Eric Singer Memorial Concert at Congregation Shomrei Emunah. Chamber music performing featuring Montclair Orchestra members. Program includes Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525; Williams’ Theme from Schindler’s List; Dvorak’s String Quartet in G Mag, Op. 477, first movement; Mendelssohn’s Octet in E♭ Maj, Ob. 20.

Dec. 10: “Change” at Immaculate Conception Church. David Chan, violin. Program includes Pärt’s Fratres; R. Strauss’s Metamorphosen; Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Feb. 25: “Contrasts” at Leshowitz Hall at Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. Program includes Wagner’s Siegfried-Idyll; Shostakovich’s Two Pieces for String Octet; Wynton Marsalis’ A Fiddler’s Tale.

March 25: “Balletic Reinvention” at Memorial Auditorium at Montclair State University. Emily D’Angelo, mezzo-soprano; Ian Koziara, tenor; David Leigh, bass. Program includes Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite.

May 13: “Tour of Colors” at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Program includes Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin; Tchaikovsky’s “Mozartiana” Suite; Mozart’s Serenata Notturna; Milhaud’s Le bœuf sur le toit.


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