Robert Vodnoy

Robert Vodnoy will conduct winter concert of the Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota on Feb. 11.


The Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota, with conductor Robert Vodnoy, will perform its winter concert on Feb. 11 at the Church of the Redeemer.

The program is titled “British Night” and features music by English composers plus music and monologues associated with four plays by William Shakespeare.

Featured instrumental soloists will be flutist Carmen Bannon and oboist Nicholas Arbolino.

The chamber orchestra comprises professional musicians who play in some of the area’s finest ensembles.

The chamber orchestra performs at The Church of the Redeemer, with its noble architecture and rich acoustics. Vodnoy is also the music director of the Whiting Park Festival Orchestra, and recently retired from Northern State University where he was orchestra director.

His professional career includes the music directorships of three orchestras and guest conducting appearances throughout the United States, Europe and the Pacific Rim.

Vodnoy and his wife have recently become residents of Venice.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students. There will be a post-concert meet-the-artists reception for the entire audience after the concert.

The repertoire selected for this program spans the history of English music from the Baroque to the present-day. Six of the composers featured on the concert are included on lists of the “Ten Best English Composers.”

They are Henry Purcell, George Frideric Handel, Hubert Parry, Edward Elgar and William Walton.

Their common sources of inspiration are the English folk song and Shakespeare. The seventh composer on the program will be the Russian composer Pytor Ilych Tchaikovsky, who received an honorary doctorate from Oxford in 1893 and often drew inspiration from Shakespeare.

The idea of the British-themed program appealed to Vodnoy early in planning for this season.

“I have programmed many ‘Shakespeare at the Symphony’ concerts throughout my career,” Vodnoy said. “I am delighted to have found a collaborator in Brendan Ragan to do something similar here in Sarasota.”

Of this project, Ragan said: “It’s a pleasure to be partnering with the Chamber Orchestra for this unique collaboration. I think it will be a real treat to blend the bard’s beautiful poetry with this exciting collection of music. Rarely are the two art forms presented in this way, so this one-night concert will be a truly special event, and we’re lucky to have some excellent actors from the region joining the fray.”

The Urbanite Theatre will collaborate with the orchestra to portray characters from “Hamlet,” “Henry V,” “Julius Caesar” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with performances by Brendan Ragan, Katie Cross, Giles Davies, Enoch King and Jim Sorensen.

actors will appear with the orchestra to bring these characters to life:

Ragan (“Oberon” director) is a founding artistic director of Urbanite Theatre. There, he has performed in the regional premieres of “Reborning,” “Incognito,” “Lungs,” “Ideation,” “Pilgrims” and “White Rabbit Red Rabbit.”

Cross (a fairy, “Ophelia”) is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Southwest Florida. Her theater credits include “Sweet & Lucky” (Denver Center/Third Rail Productions), and “The Tempest” and “Twelfth Night” (Colorado Shakespeare Festival). Her Film/Television credits include “The Right Stuff,” “Belleville Cop” and “The Neapolitan.”

Davies (“Antony”) has happily been working with Jobsite in Tampa since its 2011 production of “Quills.” Since then, he has been seen in “Othello,” “The Tempest,” “Cloud Nine,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” “Macbeth,” and his one-person show “POE.” He has been a company member with Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival for 19 seasons.

King (“Theseus”) is active on stage and screen. His recent credits include “A Lesson Before Dying” (Dominion Entertainment), “Anne and Emmitt” (MetroStage Theater), “Comedy of Errors” (Shakespeare Tavern) and “A Raisin in the Sun” (American Stage — St. Petersburg). His film credits include “Party Boat,” “Drumline” and “Madea’s Family Reunion.”

Sorensen (“Henry V”) has been an actor, singer, administrator, designer, director, and all-around theater practitioner for almost 25 years, in theaters from Alaska to Florida, Maine to California. A multiple-award-winning actor, Jim was a co-founder of freeFall Theatre, and is currently associate producer at American Stage in St. Petersburg.

Three other English masterpieces are featured on the program. Excerpts from “An English Suite” by Sir Hubert Parry open the concert.

“You’ll want to say ‘cheerio’ after the finale,” Vodnoy said.

Carmen Bannon plays flute in the Sarasota Orchestra. She also plays flute with the Charlottesville Opera and is extra/substitute with the Florida Orchestra and Orlando Philharmonic.

Nicholas Arbolino is second oboe and English horn of the Sarasota Orchestra. He spends his summers as principal oboe of the Charlottesville Opera.

The closing work on the first half of the concert will be Edward Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings.” Elgar’s background as a violinist allowed him to write particularly effective music for strings. The serenade is filled with wistful and dance-like themes, with a gorgeous romantic theme in the middle movement.

The 12 musicians include:

Flute: Carmen Bannon; oboe: Nicholas Arbolino; violin 1: Cindi Qi (concertmaster), Margot Zarzycka; violin 2: Laurie Vodnoy-Wright, Shawna Trost; viola: Tami Guz, Craig Hunting; cello: Fred Gratta, Leo LaBrecque; double bass: Christopher Riley and harpsichord: Ann Stephenson-Moe.


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