third concert of the season is tribute to Betty-Jean Hagen

woodstock chamber orchestra march poster-1The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra‘s next concert “Breaking Barriers” is a tribute to the orchestra’s longtime first violinist (concertmistress) Betty-Jean Hagen, who passed away in late 2016. Many of the orchestra’s string players had studied with her and all of its players, and conductors, held her in deep respect for both her virtuosity on her instrument and her musical acumen.
The orchestra’s new music director, Jonathan Handman, has chosen a program featuring as soloist a former student of Hagen’s, violinist Madalyn Parnas-Moller, and a program reflecting Hagen’s favorites: Mozart, Sibelius and Brahms. The concert will be presented in Olin Hall at Bard College on Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 pm (snow date: Sunday, March 4 at 3:00). Tickets this season are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $5 for students. For more information call the WCO at (845) 266-3517.

Second Concert of the season: Transcendent Masterworks

The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, Jonathan Handman, music director, presents
its second concert of the 2017-18 season on Saturday, January 6 at the Woodstock Playhouse at 7:30. “Transcendent Masterworks” offers three great and popular pieces that represent the peak of composition in their respective genres: the orchestral overture (Rossini’s “Italiana in Algieri”), the concerto (Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez”) and
the symphony (Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony). Noted area classical guitarist Gregory Dinger is the soloist in the “Aranjuez.” Tickets will be available at the box office on the afternoon of the concert. Snow date for this concert is Sunday, Jan. 7 at 3:00)

Jan Concert Poster copy

Highly Successful Season Opener

“Expansive WCO”

As the leaves turn colors, the orchestras come out of hiding… On October 7 at the Woodstock Playhouse, the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra began its first season under new music director Jonathan Handman with an ambitious program which was hardly of chamber orchestra proportions. Are we close to having a Woodstock Symphony Orchestra? Looks like it to me.

Weber’s “Oberon” Overture was crisp, clear, and animated, although I was disappointed the the wonderful barbaric horn yawns near the end were barely audible. Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5, the “Reformation,” was actually his second symphony for full orchestra (after 12 string symphonies). It got the misleading number five when it was published 20 years after Mendelssohn’s death. I think Mendelssohn was right to withhold most of his posthumously published works, definitely so in this generally plodding, turgid piece (except for the lively second movement). Handman and the orchestra did their best to bring the piece to life, though.

There are no doubts about the status of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, beloved by cellists and listeners and perhaps the greatest concerto ever written for the cello. Cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel played here recently as a member of the excellent Jasper Quartet. She had the technique and, more important, the musical projection to make a compelling success of this long concerto. Despite some occasional moments of imbalance — it’s easy for an orchestra to drown out a cello — the collaboration also worked, with Handman and his players effectively backing their excellent soloist.

I’d say the WCO — or WSO — came through this difficult program with great success. …This concert has to be heard as a milestone in the ensemble’s progress.

music review by Leslie Gerber – Woodstock Times, Oct. 12, 2017

the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra‘s next concert is Saturday, January 6 at 7:30
(snow date: Sun., Jan. 7 at 3) at The Woodstock Playhouse.
“Transcendent Masterworks” program: Rossini – “L’Italiana in Aliergi” Overture, Rodrigo – “Concierto de Aranjuez” with Greg Dinger, guitar soloist, and Beethoven – Symphony No. 7

39th Season begins soon…

The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of its newly chosen
music director Jonathan Handman will begin its 39th season of concerts,
performing at the Woodstock Playhouse, Olin Hall at Bard College and Quimby Theater
at SUNY Ulster, in early October

The season series is:

“Classically Romantic”
Saturday Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Woodstock Playhouse
Mill Hill Rd., Woodstock, NY
Overture to “Oberon” by CARL MARIA VON WEBER
Cello Concerto in B minor by ANTONIN DVORAK
with cello soloist
Rachel Henderson Freivogel

“Transcendent Masterworks”
Saturday Jan. 6 (snow date Jan. 7) at 7:30 p.m.
Woodstock Playhouse Mill Hill Rd., Woodstock, NY
Overture to “L’Italiana in Algeri” by GIOACHINO ROSSINI
“Concierto de Aranjuez” by JOAQUIN RODRIGO
with guitar soloist Gregory Dinger

“Breaking Barriers” A Tribute to WCO Concertmistress Betty Jean Hagen
Saturday March 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Olin Hall in Bard College Route 9G, Annandale-on-the-Hudson, NY
Violin Concerto by JEAN SIBELIUS
with violin soloist Madalyn Parnas Moller
and other music associated with Betty Jean Hagen

“Just Plain Folk” Continue reading

Conductor Search Season concludes with new WCO Music Director: Jonathan Handman

The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra is very happy to announce that its 2016-17 Conductor Search Season has resulted in the appointment of Jonathan Handman as the orchestra’s new Artistic Director. Handman was chosen by the orchestra’s Search committee, comprised of several members of the orchestra (representing its various sections), the board of directors’ president and the orchestra’s executive director, and the choice was approved by the board of directors. The committee took into account evaluations of the 4 candidates for the post by members of the orchestra, via detailed surveys after each concert of the season, as well as interviews with the conductors themselves. All 4 candidates who conducted a concert this season, Gwen Gould, William Stevens, Marissa Kaczynski, and Handman, presented superlative concerts, garnering audience enthusiasm and some of the best reviews in the local media that the orchestra has received in recent years. The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra believes Jonathan Handman will bring to this new position the benefit of years of conducting experience, superior musicianship, and an excellent rapport with the musicians.

The last concert of this Search Season was set up to be the Winner’s Concert, with the newly selected music director choosing a theme for his/her concert program. Handman and the WCO will perform a Celebration Concert called “Inspirations of the New World” featuring a variety of music by American composers, some famous and some not so — John Philip Sousa, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, 19th century George Chadwick, 21st century Conni Ellisor — plus one of the greatest pieces of symphonic music ever, that owes it roots to the United States, Antonin Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony. The concert is Sunday, May 14 at 3 pm at the Woodstock PlayhouseCelebrationConcertPosterwphoto, located at the entrance to the town of Woodstock (the intersection of Routes 375 and 212). We hope you will join us in welcoming Jonathan Handman as the orchestra’s new artistic director and be part of ushering in the next chapter in the 37 year history of the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra!

last candidate of Conductor Search coming in March

the final candidate in the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra‘s 2016-17 Conductor Search season, Marissa Kaczynski, will lead the orchestra in concert on Sunday, March 26 at 3 pm in Olin Hall, at Bard College. Her program includes an overture by the modern British composer Peter Maxwell Davies, a Symphony by Jean Sibelius, and the Piano Concerto of Robert Schumann, with soloist Irena Portenko.WoodstockChamberOrchestra-Poster

Next Candidate in the Conductor Search Season: Jan. 14, 2017


The second concert of the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra‘s 2016/2017 season

takes place on Saturday, January 14 at 7:30 pm (snow date: Sun., Jan. 15 at 3 pm)

at the Woodstock Playhouse, located at the entrance to the town of Woodstock

at the base of Mill Hill Rd.  Our third candidate to be the next Music Director of the WCO,

Williams Stevens, conducts a program titled “Youthful Exuberance” featuring music

by Mozart, Richard Strauss (his French Horn Concerto, with soloist Ryan Walther)

and Mendelssohn (the “Italian” Symphony).

Tickets are: $20 adult, $18 senior, $5 student, and are available at the door.

For more information on this concert & the WCO contact (845) 266-3517.

New “Conductor Search” Season to Begin Soon


The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra will begin it’s 38th season of concerts on Saturday, October 30th. This season will continue the Conductor Search
begun at the end of the last season with the final concert, which featured guest conductor Gwen Gould in an “American Roots” music program.

The 2016-17 season will feature 3 more candidates for the position of WCO Music Director:
Jonathan Handman (Oct. 30, 2016: the Woodstock Playhouse @ 3 pm),
William Stevens (Jan. 14, 2017: Woodstock Playhouse @ 7:30 pm)
and                                        Marissa Kaczynski (March 2017: date/time/location TBD).

Handman’s concert theme is: “Fiddles to Fwcofullpgadsv3ate” and will feature Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with soloist J Freivogel, as well as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

Stevens’ concert theme is: “Youthful Exuberance” and will feature Richard Strauss’ Horn Concerto with soloist Ryan Walther, music of Mozart and also Mendelssohn’s
“Italian” Symphony

Kaczynski’s concert theme is:“Drama” and will feature the Schumann Piano Concerto with soloist Irena Portenko and music by Peter Maxwell-Davies and Jean Sibelius
(Further details of this concert are being worked out at this time)


The last concert of the 2016-17 season will be a “Celebration Concert” featuring
the new Music Director, as chosen by the WCO’s Search Committee in consultation with
the orchestra’s players and board; the concert will be on May 14, 2017 at the Woodstock Playhouse @ 3 pm.  Tickets to WCO are available at the door on concert days or can be ordered ahead from the Woodstock Playhouse at (845) 679-6997.

Season Finale concert: Jay & Molly and Strawberry Hill Fiddlers, join the WCO for a “Roots Music Celebration”

The final concert of the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra‘s 2015-16 season will take place on Sunday, May 22 at 3 pm at Quimby Theater at SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge, N.Y.  The theme of the program is “A Roots Music Celebration” and will present American orchestral music, including music of Aaron Copland, relating to American folk and “Americana roots.”  The concert will feature music and performances by the internationally famous team of Jay Ungar & Molly Mason (fiddle & guitar duo), including their “Harvest Home” suite for orchestra, commissioned in the 1990s by the WCO, plus a special guest appearance by The Strawberry Hill Fiddlers. Guest conductor Gwen Gould will lead the WCO in this season finale concert.

Concertgoers will also have the opportunity to participate in the WCO’s new “Grandioso Raffle” — a major fundraising effort of the orchestra — which offers the chance of winning a top prize of $10,000 (or 2nd prize of $2500, and additional prizes of $500) with the purchase of a $100 ticket.  Tickets for the raffle will be available at the concert’s box office.

Tickets (available only at the door) are:  $25 general admission, $22 seniors, $10 students, children 6 and under admitted free with a supervising adult