March 11, 2015 |

Get Your Open Arts Tickets toCollege Night at ECCO on March 20


At its core, the East Coast Chamber Orchestra is a testimony to friendship, egalitarianism, and the love of music.

On March 20 from 8 – 10 p.m., Open Arts is presenting College Night with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. The caliber of music that will be performed is reason enough for anyone to go, but the story behind the orchestra is even better.

“We started off as a group of close-knit friends who met at Marlboro one summer, and were sad to be leaving each other’s company at the end of the festival, both personally and musically,” says Michi Wiancko, celebrated soloist and a violinist with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, “So we started a group that focused equally on high-level chamber music-making and on the quality of time spent together. We’d all block off a week or so to do nothing but explore repertoire, rehearse, cook, eat, and hang out.”

One of the unique aspects of ECCO is the fact that there is no conductor. Wiancko explains that this makes for a different concert experience, because “without a centralized leader to glue our eyes to, it becomes necessary to stay glued to each other. We make a lot of eye contact, and we are generally quite expressive with our bodies, our breathing, and oftentimes with our facial expressions.” The conductor-less aspect of the orchestra makes itself especially apparent in rehearsals, where, Wiancko says, “ECCO worked hard to solve the epic problem of how to create a nurturing, judgement-free zone in which every single person felt freedom to express their ideas while trying to prevent a chaotic free-for-all that might inhibit productivity.”

As with most nuanced aspects of any endeavor, Wiancko says there is no easy, simple answer as to how the rehearsals work without a central leader — it’s a matter of “exercising patience and creativity” as well as “learning how to pick our battles and collectively create space for each other’s thoughts and contributions.”

Two of the pieces that ECCO have selected to perform at the College Night in particular pay homage to literary and musical predecessors in complicated and fascinating ways. The first is Quartet No. 1, Kreutzer Sonata by Leoš Janáček, a piece inspired by the composer’s own tale of unrequited love, behind which “lurks the great masterpieces of Beethoven and Tolstoy,” says Wiancko.

The other piece is Last Round, composed by Osvaldo Golijov, who received his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. The composition borrows from the life and work of Astor Piazzolla, one of the greatest bandoneon (a type of accordion) players Argentina ever produced. The piece transforms “a string orchestra into a living and breathing bandoneon” says Wiancko, with the different sections playing off each other to replicate the complete sound of the instrument.

Tickets to the ECCO performance on March 20 are free, and include a pre-show tour of the Kimmel Center and an artist meet-and-greet afterwards. So get your ticket today and come out for a unique music experience!


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