SPOTLIGHT ON THE CHELSEA SYMPHONY

What good are orchestrations, after all, without the orchestra?  For the upcoming New Orchestrations concert, Musical Theatre Factory has partnered with The Chelsea Symphony, a non-profit ensemble in Manhattan, to bring these new works to life in a shared spirit of artistic collaboration.

Now in its tenth anniversary season, The Chelsea Symphony is a self-governed orchestra that sidesteps the sometimes dusty practices of more traditional orchestras to provide unique opportunities to its members and perform vibrant, diverse musical works, often highlighting new or obscure pieces. According to Board President Emily Wong, the Symphony is a volunteer-based organization producing high-quality work that serves as a bridge for musicians — a mission well-suited to this collaboration with Musical Theatre Factory.

TCS makes its home, of course, in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, but has played venues from Lincoln Center to Central Park, and worked with artists such as Victor Garber, Seth Rudetsky, and Clay Aiken.  Several members have also appeared as part of the fictional “New York Symphony” in the Amazon Original Series Mozart in the Jungle.  The Symphony performs regularly throughout the year (and you can learn more about its current season at chelseasymphony.org/concerts).

The unique structure of The Chelsea Symphony offers its musicians the opportunity to become involved in the administration and governance of the organization. Featured solos and conducting positions are distributed on a rotating basis, and the players also serve as graphic designers, webmasters, and board members. “Instead of having that top-down model, the idea with Chelsea is that everybody can wear multiple hats, and that leadership is a shared ideal,” says Co-Artistic Director Mark Seto. (All quotations in this piece are taken from Episode 9 of the podcast Divergent Paths with Dan Dunford, himself a member of The Chelsea Symphony.  Listen here.)

The programming of the TCS season is also a democratic process, reflecting the strengths and interests of the ensemble members.  “A lot of our programming actually comes organically from our musicians,” says Seto, noting that an early step in making concert selections asks for suggestions from the members who are slated for upcoming featured solos. Unsurprisingly, this means you’ll find more new compositions and regional premieres than old standbys in a typical season.

And soon, The Chelsea Symphony can add to this eclectic resume the upcoming premiere of five new orchestral musical theatre pieces at New Orchestrations.

Check out the 35-piece Chelsea Symphony performing five brand-new scores to be featured at the gala concert event “Get Yourself Some New Orchestrations,” the launch of an exciting new series which pairs emergent musical theatre writers with Broadway orchestrators to commission stunning new orchestrations of their shows. Excerpts from four new musicals (and one reimagined favorite!) will be brought to life by the symphony and a cast of Broadway stars. 

When: Monday, November 9, at 8pm

Where: Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center (129 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023)

Tickets available here.

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