Freedom and History: Northern New York Orchestra to Celebrate Freedom and Riverine Heritage | Arts and entertainment


The Northern New York Orchestra performed the “Ashokan Farewell” lament for a few t…

The Northern New York Orchestra will help celebrate our independence in more ways than one with its upcoming July 4th concerts.

The theme of his concerts at 8 pm Thursday at Thompson Park, Watertown, and 8 pm Saturday at St. Lawrence Center Mall, Massena, is “Celebrating Freedom.”

The 198th Army Band Hot A’s will open the festivities at the park at 5 p.m. The words of welcome are at 7:30 pm Fireworks will follow the concert.

For the Masséna concert, the group Northbound will perform at 5 p.m. A fireworks display will follow the orchestra’s concert.

Cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic have declined, and on June 15, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted the state’s pandemic restrictions after 70% of the population received at least one dose of the vaccine. Events like concerts have been given the green light.

“We thought if we could have the concerts this summer, it would definitely be a suitable title so that people could finally get this freedom to go out and do things,” said the founder, music director and conductor of ‘ONNY Kenneth B. Andrews. “Of course, that also represents one of our main elements that this concert still is, and it’s a celebration of our veterans – those who served before and who are serving in all of our branches now.”

The concert will also be a celebration of the St. Lawrence River, with the creation of a commissioned piece for the orchestra: “Song of the St. Lawrence: An Homage to the People of the St. Lawrence River Lowlands” composed by Barb Heller and Gretchen Koehler.

“Song of the St. Lawrence” was commissioned by the Flynn Family Foundation of Thousand Island Park, Wellesley Island. It is in memory of Clifford and Margaret (“Peg”) Kavanaugh of Syracuse and Thousand Islands Park. They were the parents of Mrs. Geraldine E. Flynn of Poquoson, Va., Now in her 80s who grew up in Thousand Island Park and has fond memories of those years.

In June, Mrs. Flynn’s daughter, Ann Flynn, contacted the orchestra’s management regarding her mother’s request to have a new piece of music composed on the St. Lawrence. Mr. Andrews approached Ms. Heller and Ms. Koehler with the request, and they eagerly accepted the project.

On September 3, the musicians spoke with Geraldine about her vision for the piece.

“She spoke a lot about her memories growing up in the area and from those conversations we did what we could to fit her into the room,” Ms. Koehler said.

Mrs Koehler is a fiddler with an atlas of musical styles at your fingertips, including Irish, French-Canadian and “old time”. In 2012, she was inducted into the North American Fiddlers’ Hall of fame and honored with an upstate New York Traditional Arts Heritage Award. This is his 25th year with the ONNY as a violinist.

Ms. Heller is best known for her role as an on-air host for North Country Public Radio in Canton and for her “String fever” bluegrass show heard at 3 p.m. Thursday. She is also a guitarist / songwriter and has taught hundreds of teenagers and adults how to play the finger guitar. Ms. Heller’s songs are often about people and life in the north of the country. She also likes to immerse herself in local history, which is why the “Chant du Saint-Laurent” project was particularly precious to her.

“The subject for me is a perfect fit,” Ms. Heller said. “I love this whole concept of allegiance to our home, wherever your home is. We all have a very special relationship with our home. And when you come from the lowlands of the St. Lawrence River, it’s really special.

the lowland region, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia, is the plain along the St. Lawrence between Quebec City to the east and Brockville, Ontario / Morristown, NY to the west.

To bring the history and sounds of the region to life, the songwriters took an imaginary journey through history, including the days of the Iroquois and the early settlers. “Le Chant du Saint-Laurent” is interspersed with orchestral accents intended to reflect the sounds of the river, ranging from shorebirds to cargo horns.

From musing moments to a Scotland-based ‘Rock Island Reel’, the approximately 12-minute piece is a piece of reverence and celebration.

“After the Iroquois came European settlers, and not just from Ireland and France, but from Germany, Italy – from all over Europe and they made their home in the St. Lawrence,” Ms. Heller. “A few pieces capture the festive spirit of a night by the river – all the sounds you could hear – from shorebirds to a dance party with songs and violins.”

“There is a part to sing along,” Ms. Koehler said. “There is a lot of violin, a little jig and percussion on foot from Quebec. We honored the music of the region through the immigrants.

Ms. Koehler also incorporated a second reel she wrote, the “Foghorn Reel” in “Song of the St. Lawrence”.

“It’s a Quebec song,” said Ms. Koehler. “Sometimes a fiddler would play from eight in the evening until eight in the morning and they were the only ones playing.”

One of the things Geraldine Flynn told songwriters was her memories of being woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of a pair of foghorns, hence the name of the reel.

“I was like, ‘How do we put that in that violin tune? ”, Said Ms. Koehler. “So when you listen, it’s very obvious in the second part of the song, that those two explosions represent what it must have been like for her to hear that.”

“Song of the St. Lawrence” was orchestrated by Keith Ziemba, a longtime Russell resident who now resides in California. Mr. Ziemba is a retired music teacher at Edwards-Knox Central School and is an active trumpeter, composer and arranger.

Ms Heller and Ms Koehler said it was dynamic to have the arsenal of the orchestra behind them for the project.

“It’s fun to combine these styles,” Ms. Koehler said. “That’s what folk music does, the mix of styles. It’s very natural to have the orchestral sound in the mix as well, because folk musicians love it.

But perhaps the best sound for the duo was when they were first asked to help create “Song of the St. Lawrence”.

“We are very honored to be a part of this project,” said Ms. Koehler. “I think a lot of people will hear their stories in this room – that something will trigger something, bring back memories of their family history as well.”

“It’s a thrill of my life,” Ms. Heller said. “I have been a folk singer for decades. Being able to be part of this composition, write the lyrics and sing them with an orchestra behind me is an absolute pleasure.

The details

WHAT: Orchestra of Northern New York presents “Celebrating Freedom” concerts.

WHEN / WHEN: Thursday at 8 p.m. at Thompson Park, Watertown, and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Lawrence Center shopping mall, Massena. The opening festivities will begin at 5 p.m. at the park and at 5:30 p.m. at the mall. A fireworks display will close the evenings.

PLEASE NOTE: The orchestra will premiere the commissioned work “The Song of the St. Lawrence: A Tribute to the People of the Lowlands of the St. Lawrence River” during both concerts. Also featured will be excerpts from Jay Ungar’s “Harvest Suite”, a tribute to veterans, and “1812 Overture” by Peter I. Tchaikovsky. At the park, it will be paired with howitzers provided courtesy of the 10th Mountain Division.

ENTRY: No charge.

RAIN DATE: July 8 – fireworks only for Watertown. For Massena, the concert would move inside the sports complex of the shopping center.

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