Jason Love

Jason Love, conductor of the Columbia Orchestra, rehearses for a concert. (Staff photo by Sarah Pastrana, Patuxent Publishing / September 25, 2011)

Expect an eclectic program when the Columbia Orchestra gives a free chamber concert on Saturday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia. The chamber music format encourages smaller ensembles, relatively short pieces, and a variety of musical styles.

"It's nice to mix and match in a concert like this," says Columbia Orchestra music director Jason Love. "For me, it's a fun challenge putting the pieces together. It's like doing a jigsaw puzzle and fitting those pieces together."

When the full orchestra is doing a concert, Love ordinarily conducts every piece himself. For this chamber concert, however, Love is only conducting Dvorak's Serenade for Wind Instruments in D Minor. Although he's overseeing the whole program and deciding things such as the performance order of pieces, he's otherwise letting the smaller ensembles prepare their own selections.

The entire program, including intermission, is anticipated to run around 90 minutes. One reason why it promises to be short and sweet is that some of the chamber ensembles will be doing excerpts from longer works, namely, two movements from Schubert's "Trout" Piano Quintet and the first movement of Beethoven's String Quartet in C Major. Love says that these excerpted movements "stand very well on their own."


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The Dvorak, Schubert and Beethoven pieces qualify as familiar standard repertory, but the other two pieces on the program will be much less familiar for most audience members.

Arthur Foote's "A Night Piece," composed for string quartet and flute, reflects the ways in which this early-20th-century American composer was influenced by the impressionist style of such European composers as Debussy and Elgar.

"A lot of good music has sort of fallen into obscurity that was written by American composers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries," Love states, adding that such music tends to be better known from recordings than from the infrequent live performance.

And very few people will have heard Maryland composer Mark Lackey's "Tangle: An Off-kilter Tango," which is receiving its local premiere. Composed for flute, English horn, violin and cello, this tango-evocative piece has what Love describes as "a neat combination of sounds."

The Columbia Orchestra gives a free chamber concert on Saturday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 6800 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia. Donations will be accepted. Call 410-465-8777 or go to http://www.columbiaorchestra.org.