The 40th season of the Reno Chamber Orchestra began Saturday, September 20th and Sunday, the 21st, and the chosen program was the perfect lineup to start it off. William Barton, one of Australia’s leading didgeridoo players, was scheduled to perform alongside the RCO. However, due to an illness Barton was unable to fly into the states and last-minute changes had to be made. Fortunately, the RCO is filled with incredibly talented and eager musicians, and RCO’s principal oboist Rong-Huey Liu stepped up to fill Barton’s place. Her performance was captivating, and her obvious confidence made it easy for audience members forget that she had only had 24 hours to prepare herself to fill Barton’s highly-praised shoes. Alongside Liu and conductor Theodore Kuchar was a wonderfully diverse orchestra with musicians differing in age, gender, and race. Witnessing such a wide variety of people on stage and in the audience shows just how far the power of music can reach, and the RCO is the perfect example of how easily it can bring people together.
The orchestra performed four pieces varying in length and style: Mozart’s Oboe Concerto, Telemann’s “Water Music,” Peter Sculthorpe’s “From Ubirr,” and Mendelssohn’s “Scottish Symphony.” Even to RCO amateurs, it is easy to see how incredibly talented the orchestra is- individually and as a whole. It doesn’t take a PhD in music composition and performance to understand how much time and energy each musician has put into his or her part, and their passion for the music shined through with each and every note. The pieces chosen for the season opener were very unique, filled with special effects and non-instrumental sounds. For example, Telemann’s “Water Music” included measures that called for stomping by the orchestra. This was surprising to anybody in the audience who was unfamiliar with this movement and offered a comical element to the otherwise formal piece. In Sculthorpe’s “From Ubirr,” cellists created a distorted sound by sliding their fingers up and down the neck of their instruments, which added to the eeriness and mystery of the music. It’s these types of risks that demonstrate the orchestra’s skill set and deep understanding of the music, as well as their desire to not only play each note correctly, but to keep the audience entertained and sitting on the edge of their seats. This type of engagement allows for a unique and unforgettable experience.
The RCO’s 40th season opening weekend was a huge success. With multiple audience members recognized and congratulated on their steadfast support since the RCO’s first season, newer attendees were welcomed into the community with encouraging words of acceptance. The RCO’s goal of an all-inclusive experience allows for supporters new and old to come together in an organic and enjoyable way. This opening performance set a high bar for the rest of the season, and it was made clear by the fire in each musician’s eyes that they are not going to settle for anything less than exceptional for their 40th season.