Peters makes an impressive debut as MCOS conductor

 

MONTPELIER – Troy Peters' debut as music director of the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra Society (MCOS) proved promising, with a nearly electric performance Mozart's Symphony No. 29. At Sunday's performance at Vermont College's College Hall, works by Elgar and Percy Grainger, along with two works featuring bassoon soloist Rachael Elliott, suggest a bright future for the 13-year-old community orchestra. When Catherine Orr, MCOS music director for nearly a decade, stepped down, an involved search ensued which yielded Peters. A graduate of Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music, Peters is best known as music director of the Vermont Youth Orchestra since 1995. More recently the Colchester resident became music director of the Middlebury College Community Orchestra, also plays viola in various professional ensembles and is a recognized composer. Peters proved not only an able conductor but a musician of substance in Mozart's Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201, one of the composer's youthful masterpieces. The opening allegro moderato, despite some heavy winds, was light and joyful. The winds were the stars in the light and lyrical andante. The menuet was appropriately elegant, while the closing allegro con spirito was spirited and grand. The performance was by no means flawless, but it was joyful music-making – for the audience as well as the musicians. Unfortunately, the slow movement of the Mozart was marred by an audience-member shooting flash pictures. It is virtually never permissable to take photos during a classical music concert, and absolutely never for flash photos, as it disrupts the experience for both the musicians and the audience. Vermont has an outstanding bassoonist in Elliott, who has performed in many parts of the world. She displayed a comfortable virtuosity and a natural musicality in two little-known works. Burrill Phillips' 1939 Concert Piece for Bassoon and Strings proved jazzy and broad in scope, while the less-interesting 1959 Concertino for Bassoon and Orchestra by Francisco Mignone employed Brazilian dances. Throughout, Elliott was impressive, and the MCOS accompanied sensitively. Edward Elgar's Serenade for strings in e minor, Opus 20, which opened the program, began roughly, but soon smoothed out. The MCOS is starting to work on its string sound and the slow movement, larghetto, was especially lyrical and beautiful. In honor of the St. Patrick's Day weekend, Peters and the MCOS closed the concert with two arrangements of Irish folk tunes by Percy Grainger. They were delightful. Peters' debut concert promises a new musical growth for the MCOS.

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