Kalamazoo Philharmonia | WMUK

Kalamazoo Philharmonia

Kalamazoo Philharmonia

Andrew Koehler, music director of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony, Kalamazoo Philharmonia, and WMU Symphony, touched on how each group is faring during the pandemic in a conversation with Cara Lieurance.


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Before the COVID-19 crisis began, longtime Western Michigan University Symphony Orchestra music director Bruce Uchimura asked Andrew Koehler, a prominent regional conductor and a professor of music at Kalamazoo College, to conduct the symphony for the 2020/21 season. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Koehler says he was thrilled at the chance to work with an ensemble of dedicated young players on canonical repertoire.  Now, with the pandemic threatening to disrupt school openings, Koehler is navigating restricted paths for music-making at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, and as director of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra. He discusses some of the solutions, and the repertoire that will be remembered by the players as music that got them through the pandemic.


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The violin is a way of life for Barry Ross, the concertmaster emeritus of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, and the founder of the Kalamazoo Philharmonia (formerly known as the Kalamazoo College and Community Orchestra). A generous soloist and collaborator, Ross has missed making music with colleagues and students during the Covid-19 shutdown. He wishes he could still put pencil marks on a young learner's music during a lesson. Playing duets online is hard, when the program allows only one player to "speak" at a time.


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No Copland, no Gershwin, no Bernstein. Instead, music director Andrew Koehler programmed Florence Price, Lou Harrison, and Roberto Sierra for the Kalamazoo Philharmonia's concert at 4 pm on Sunday, Mar 8 in the Light Fine Arts Center at Kalamazoo College. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Koehler says he put these unknown composers upfront to highlight their music and acknowledge the orchestra's tradition of musical discovery in its 30th season. 


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Weiyin Chen, a Juilliard-trained pianist and longtime friend of conductor Andrew Koehler, makes her third appearance with the Kalamazoo Philharmonia at 7:30 pm Saturday, Nov 16 by giving her first performance of Tchaikovsky's monumental Piano Concerto No. 1 . Chen and Koehler join Cara Lieurance to preview the concert and highlight the other works on the program: Overture by Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz and Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations.


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