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WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - 2013 has turned out to be a banner year to showcase Lycoming College’s connection to the local music community. In January, the women’s section of the college choir sang “from the heavens” as it performed on the balcony in the Community Arts Center as a part of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra’s (WSO) “Music of the Spheres” concert; in August, the college hosted the inaugural Williamsport Summer Strings Festival, a week-long event that included a music camp and daily concerts at noon by world-class musicians; and in between, Lycoming announced the formation of the Lycoming College Community Orchestra (LCCO), a group in which faculty, staff and students perform side-by-side with community musicians from all walks of life.
LCCO conductor William Ciabattari, Ph.D., assistant professor and chair of Lycoming’s music department, is now tasked with the challenge of making sure the fledgling orchestra is ready for its first big show, which will be held Wednesday, Nov. 20, in Clarke Chapel at 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
“There was concern about whether we would be able to build enough string depth to keep an orchestra,” Ciabattari said. “But that doubt was alleviated quickly when we had our first rehearsal in August and my feelings were confirmed during the first rehearsal with a full ensemble. The orchestra is going to work.”
Ciabattari, principal tubist for the WSO, will have support from fellow WSO member and Lycoming adjunct music instructor Tim Breon, the area’s go-to bass player, who also joined the LCCO. Breon is the principal bassist for the WSO and has performed with Olivia Newton-John, Davy Jones and Clay Aiken. Breon was happy to join the group after being asked by Ciabattari.
“Things were a little rough at first, but Bill has brought us to a point where the music is starting to sound much better,” Breon said. “I’m very impressed with Bill’s ability to bring people together and get them focused on making music. Not only has he done a lot with this group, but he’s made big improvements in the college band and the Williamsport Symphony Youth Orchestra.”
Helping to put the “community” in Lycoming College Community Orchestra is Williamsport resident Ann Mahoney, who plays viola. She touted the group’s inclusivity as one of its biggest components. Mahoney said that Ciabattari has been very welcoming to performers who sometimes haven’t played music publicly for a long time.
“It’s exciting to see how happy the players are being able to make music together, whether it’s been two hours, two weeks or 20 years since the last time they played with an orchestra,” she said.
All of these numbers will fall into the past as the LCCO performs its first show. The band will feature Dick Lakey as soloist for the Handel Organ Concerto No. 5 and it also will perform Strauss’ Pizzicato Polka, a medley of Christmas carols and Mascagni’s Intermezzo from “Cavalleria Rusticana,” among other works.
“I’m totally stoked for the first concert!” Mahoney said. “I’m hoping for a packed house … honestly I can think of no better way to spend a Wednesday evening than making music with the musicians of the Lycoming College Community Orchestra and November 20th we get to share that experience with our audience.”
Lycoming College is a four-year, residential liberal arts and sciences school dedicated to the undergraduate education of 1,400 students. Its rigorous academic program, vibrant residential community and supportive faculty foster successful student outcomes. Lycoming offers 36 academic majors and is recognized as a Tier 1 institution by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1812 and located near the banks of the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Pa., Lycoming is one of the 50 oldest colleges in the nation. For more information, visit www.lycoming.edu.