Musical “surprises” are in store for those attending the Poway Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming “An American Extravaganza” concert featuring the Chestnut Brass Company as guest artists.
“This concert will be very light and fun,” said music director and conductor John LoPiccolo, who has led the orchestra for the past nine years. “The program includes some of the most popular American music and a unique opportunity to hear a brass quintet and full orchestra playing together.
“We’re delighted to be joined by the Chestnut Brass Company,” he added. “They’re absolutely fantastic.”
The 4 p.m. Sunday, March 19 concert will be held in the Poway Center for the Performing Arts, 15498 Espola Road.
“We’re looking forward to performing with the Poway Symphony Orchestra,” said Marian Hesse, a Chestnut Brass member. “ There is humor and playfulness in the ‘Five of a Kind’ piece — the audience will love it. We’ve also got a few surprises planned, so it’s really going to be a fun concert.”
The Grammy-winning Chestnut Brass Company, founded in 1977 in Philadelphia, has earned international acclaim for its performances on modern and historical brass instruments. It has performed in all 50 states and throughout North and South America, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia.
LoPiccolo said he was able to book the group, whose members live throughout the United States, due to working with them in the past.
“Five of a Kind for Brass Quintet and Orchestra” was composed by Peter Schickele, a renowned composer and parodist known for his humorous fictional alter ego P.D.Q. Bach.
“His music is hysterical,” LoPiccolo said.
While “Five of a Kind” is “not as wild” as some of his other pieces, he said, there are “a few surprises” in store for the audience.
“It is not a goofy piece, but a legitimate work with a couple interesting things that occur during the piece,” he said. “It has five movements that are just great music to listen to.”
The other two selections the 65 musicians in the orchestra will play are “An American Salute” by Morton Gould and “Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copland. LoPiccolo called the first a “lively, spunky piece” based on the song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”
“Appalachian Spring” is one of the most popular of Copland’s compositions, but it has never been performed by the Poway Symphony Orchestra before, he said.
The orchestra consists of a core group of around 30 musicians from throughout the region, all volunteers, who rehearse with LoPiccolo weekly plus additional musicians he invites to join for specific performances to meet the instrumental needs of the music selected for those concerts.
The orchestra formed 19 years ago, but has never had the success it has had — which is making it possible to get guest artists of the caliber of Chestnut Brass Company — since it re-organized post-pandemic, LoPiccolo said. It now has sold-out shows in the PCPA which can seat around 800.
“Everybody was locked up and not in a position to do what we love, as a passion,” LoPiccolo said about the orchestra’s recent success. “We decided to bite the bullet and open the gates with some pieces in the repertoire that would bring in the highest-level guests because we’re back.”
He emphasized that this concert, about 90 minutes over two acts, is very family friendly.
“It will be a fun experience,” he said. “For those who have never been to a symphony concert, this will be a total introduction into how great it can be.”
The Poway Symphony Orchestra puts on three concerts each season — in November, March and May. It provides opportunities for qualified musicians of all ages to perform in high-quality concerts. For details, visit PowaySymphonyOrchestra.org.
Tickets for the March 19 concert are $35-$45 for adults, $28-$40 for seniors (65-plus), $18-25 for students and $15 for children ages 12 and under. Buy at powaycenter.com or call the PCPA box office at 858-748-0505.