Orchestra Announces New Season – Monett Times
BY MURRAY BISHOFF, LEAD CONTRIBUTOR
Rehearsals began Sept. 6 at the Monett High School Performing Arts Center for the Ozark Festival Orchestra’s 43rd season, under the direction of its new Music Director, Alexandra Kovatch.
Kovatch succeeds Todd Borgmann, who stepped down in April after seven seasons. Borgmann agreed to stay on as an OFO board member, the first music director to do so.
For the first time in three years, the OFO plans to mount a full season of four concerts. The concerts will again take place on Sunday afternoon. This first concert, “Songs of the Stage: Favorites from Opera and Broadway”, will take place at 3 p.m. on October 9.
December’s concert, “Winter Wonderland: Holiday Celebration,” will take place at 3 p.m. on December 4, with weekly rehearsals beginning October 25.
The February concert, “Love Is In The Air,” which will also continue the tradition of concerts by young artists, will take place at 3 p.m. on February 19, 2023.
The final concert will again be the popular Pops in the Park gala on April 16, 2023 at the Monett City Park Casino. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. and music starts at 2:15 p.m. The selections for this concert will revolve around “Sounds of the Heartland,” featuring music by American composers and “other Old West favorites.”
Kovatch has scheduled six weekly rehearsals at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesdays, usually at the MHS Performing Arts Center. Rehearsals for the December concert will begin on October 25, January 7 for the February concert and March 14 for the Pops concert.
Musicians are welcome to attend rehearsals and play in the orchestra, depending on their abilities and the need for specific instruments in the chosen selections. Questions regarding OFO play can be directed to Kovatch at [email protected]
Kovatch has been Director of Orchestras at Drury University Springfield since 2020, as well as Director of the Springfield Chamber Orchestra. She has conducted other ensembles and will soon perform with the Kansas City Civic Orchestra. She holds a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Missouri State University. As an instrumentalist, she plays the harp.
In scheduling music for an upcoming gig, Kovatch said it had to be challenging enough to be interesting for the band to play, but also achievable.
“There needs to be a good musical balance throughout the season, including different styles of music and composers,” she said. “It’s fun to have a general theme for a concert. A concert should have music that the audience will enjoy listening to and the orchestra will enjoy playing.
She sees less of a divide between “classic” and “pop” music, which shows in the way she chose the music for the upcoming OFO season.
“I think it makes it exciting for the audience and appeals to more people, especially audience members who may not be as familiar with all of the standard literature,” Kovatch said. “In the spring, OFO will do an Americana concert; it will feature themes from Western films, American folk songs, but also music from composers such as Aaron Copland, Scott Joplin and Florence Price. I like to have a general theme that brings together popular and traditional music.
Kovatch said working with smaller orchestras, such as the Sedalia Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of Allentown, Penn., had an impact on her.
“It made me realize that the most important thing is the needs of the orchestra and giving the orchestra good experiences,” she said. “If the music needs a little re-orchestration to fit your band’s instrumentation, but in return they’re going to learn and have a ton of fun, then it’s worth it.
“A community orchestra is made up of all these lovely people who give their time to come and make music. They get nothing out of it but the joy of making music to the best of their abilities and I think that’s what the goal should be. I’m here to guide the process and help them perform at their best and make sure it’s a good experience for everyone.
While male bandleaders have historically dominated the music industry, Kovatch has found audiences and players receptive to his work. She is the second woman to hold the position with OFO, following Dr. Amy Mucbnick, who served as r997-r999.
“Really, we’re all about making music – it’s not about me,” Kovatch said. “So when we are focused on the music and have a common goal, none of that matters. Deciding what makes a conductor ‘good’ or ‘bad’ can be difficult and extremely biased, as there are many approaches and leadership styles.
“I think it’s about being able to guide the orchestra through the music and lead them to the best possible outcome, to challenge them to grow as a musician and to give their best while creating a positive environment; and to be absolutely technically clear while conveying a musical idea that inspires musicians as well as audiences. I will do my best to accomplish all these things with OFO.
The Ozark Festival Orchestra will have a new website this year and will continue to offer concert updates on its Facebook page, as well as in The Monett Times. Admission to concerts will continue at $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, and free for high school students and under. A 50i(c)3 non-profit organization, OFO is supported by sponsors, memberships and donations, purchased advertising in its program, and funds managed by the Monett Community Foundation.