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The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra is a professional orchestra based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The current Music Director is Andrew Constantine, whose contract began July 1, 2009. The orchestra's Artistic Advisor from 2008 to 2009 was Jaime Laredo, a native of Bolivia. The Associate Conductor was Bradley Thachuk, a native of Canada; he left Fort Wayne in May 2011 to become music director of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra, but announced he planned to return to conduct the Holiday Pops concerts. Effective September 2011, Sameer Patel became the Philharmonic's Assistant Conductor. The orchestra performs mainly in the historic Embassy Theatre and Arts United Center.
The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1944. It has been part of the city's musical heritage continuously since its debut on October 18, 1944, at the Palace Theatre. The first music director was Hans Schwieger, born in Germany in 1907, who died in October 2000. Under Schwieger's direction, the orchestra dramatically expanded its concert programming in the 1945–1946 season, presenting 14 programs with pianist William Kapell, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and tenor Mario Lanza among the guest artists. A 1946 concert devoted to Verdi's Requiem featured soloists from the Metropolitan Opera and a 200-voice chorus, as Time reported. In 1948, Schweiger became music director of the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra (which was dissolved in 1982) and made numerous recordings with them and other orchestras.
In the summer of 1948, Igor Buketoff became the orchestra's second music director. He made numerous recordings and was known for his educational work. He was particularly known for his performances of Russian music, especially Rachmaninoff.
During the 1966–67 season, the orchestra had guest conductors. Then James Sample became music director, serving from 1967 to 1970. Sample, who died in 1995, was followed by Thomas Briccetti, from 1970 to 1977. Briccetti died on May 27, 1999. Once again, there were guest conductors during the 1977–78 season.
From 1978 to 1993, the orchestra's music director was Ronald Ondrejka, who had previously served as music director of the Monterey Symphony Orchestra (1960–61), assistant conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (1961–63) under Josef Krips, conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra. Ondrejka, who frequently programmed American music, was also the head of the conducting program at the University of California at Santa Barbara in the 1970s. During Ondrejka's final season, 1992–1993, the orchestra "auditioned" candidates for the next music director, including Edvard Tchivzhel, who was picked as Ondrejka's successor. Tchivzhel left the Philharmonic at the end of 2007–08 season. Guest conductors, most of whom were candidates for the next music director, led the orchestra during the 2008–09 season. The board chose Andrew Constantine to take over as music director, beginning with the 2009–10 season.
Contemporary composers who have visited Fort Wayne to have their works performed by the orchestra include Charles Wuorinen, Stephen Paulus, David Ott, Karel Husa, Benjamin Lees, Michael Schelle, David Crowe, and Libby Larsen.
The executive directors of the organization have included Peter Smith (1976–1985), Christopher D. Guerin (1985–2005), Daniel Ross (interim, 2005–2006), and J.L. Nave (2006–present).
Over the years, the Philharmonic has performed with many renowned pop artists, including Lionel Hampton, The Beach Boys, Boots Randolph, The Manhattan Transfer, Johnny Mathis, Chet Atkins, Leo Kottke, The Moody Blues, Mel Torme, Ramsey Lewis, The 5th Dimension, Art Garfunkel, B. J. Thomas, Toni Tennille, Benny Goodman, Skitch Henderson, Burt Bacharach, Ben Folds, Aretha Franklin, Doc Severinsen, The Smothers Brothers, Henry Mancini, Pete Fountain, and Air Supply.
Today, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic carries on its musical tradition with 480 orchestra and chamber ensemble performances are attended by more than 220,000 people. Since 1980 the orchestra has won five awards for adventuresome programming from ASCAP, the American Society of composers, Authors and Publishers. In addition, its Education Programs are created to inspire the love of classical music in people of all ages. The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus, directed by Benjamin Rivera, participates in several concerts each year.
The current season runs from September through May. Concerts are divided into several categories:
In addition, the Philharmonic's chamber orchestra has performed a few concerts during the summer. Members of the orchestra have also participated in the "Summer Symphony", founded by Joseph M. Woods in 1956, who played with the Philharmonic from 1948-1950. Concerts have taken place at the Foellinger Theatre in Franke Park, now led by principal trombonist David Cooke.
Edvard Tchivzhel and the Philharmonic recorded a commercial CD at the Honeywell Center in Wabash, which includes Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 and Richard Strauss' symphonic poem Don Juan. For many years, selected Philharmonic concerts have been taped for broadcast on WBNI, and, during Tchivzhel's tenure, several performances were aired nationally on NPR's Performance Today program.
On January 17, 2007, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported that Edvard Tchivzhel, music director of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, would step down when his contract expired in June 2008.
Tchivzhel, born in Leningrad, Russia (now St. Petersburg), in 1944, came to Fort Wayne in August 1993 after serving as assistant conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic (now called the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra) under Yevgeny Mravinsky.
The 2007–08 season began on September 15, 2007, at the Embassy Theatre when Tchivzhel conducted Stravinsky's Petrouchka (1947 version with the optional concert ending) and Gershwin's An American in Paris and Concerto in F. The season concluded on May 10, 2008, with Tchivzhel conducting Mahler's second symphony.
The Fort Wayne Philharmonic announced on January 15, 2008, that it had selected eight finalists who would be considered for the new music director. The eight conductors were invited to conduct concerts in Fort Wayne during the 2008–09 season. Philharmonic management and the board of directors invited audience response (via questionnaires) as the conductors appeared during the 2008–09 season, then selected the new director, who will likely take over in the 2009–10 season. The new director, Andrew Constantine, was announced at the conclusion of the annual membership meeting on June 23, 2009.
The finalists selected were:
The Philharmonic announced that each of the candidates would visit Fort Wayne for two concerts during the 2008–09 season. Each conductor would lead one concert with the full orchestra and one with the chamber orchestra. A final decision was made at the end of the 2008–09 season. In addition, famed conductor and violinist Jaime Laredo guest conducted the full orchestra and the chamber orchestra. The Philharmonic's current associate conductor, Bradley Thachuk, also conducted during the 2008–09 season.
The Masterworks Series for the 2008–09 season began before a near-capacity crowd at the Embassy Theatre on September 20 with Tito Muñoz conducting Glinka's Russlan and Ludmilla overture, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 (Yuja Wang, pianist), and Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra. J.L. Nave III, President and CEO of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, told the audience that selected concerts during the season, including the opening performance, would be taped for broadcast on WBNI.
The Masterworks Series ended on May 9, 2009, with Andrew Constantine conducting Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. The Philharmonic Chorus, the IPFW Singers, and the Fort Wayne Children's Chorus, and three vocal soloists, participated in the Orff. An augmented orchestra was utilized in both works. Nave told the capacity audience that about 300 performers were involved in Carmina Burana.
The Philharmonic's new Music Director (effective July 1, 2009), Andrew Constantine, moved from the United Kingdom to the United States in 2004 to become Assistant Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Within his first season there he was promoted to Associate Conductor.
In May 2007, following a two year search and a pool of over 280 applicants, he was appointed Music Director of the Reading Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania.
After winning the first Donatella Flick/Accademia Italiana Conducting Competition, Andrew Constantine made his Royal Festival Hall debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He also has conducted the other leading symphony orchestras in the United Kingdom including the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra, as well many others throughout Europe. He was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music by the University of Leicester, for his “contribution to music”, and also a prestigious British NESTA Fellowship to further develop his international career.
Andrew Constantine led a full schedule of concerts beginning in the 2009–10 season. He began the season with "Fanfare: Music for Everyone," three informal programs on September 4 and 5 at the Foellinger Theatre in Franke Park. Violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson were featured soloists in Camille Saint-Saëns' The Muse and The Poet (La Muse et le Poete), Op. 132 (1910), in the September 4 concert. He conducted a special concert at the Embassy Theatre on October 24. Besides conducting three Masterworks Series concerts during the season, Constantine conducted a Spectrum Series program at the Arts United Center on January 30 and 31, and pops concerts with circus performers at the Embassy Theatre on February 26 and 27. He promised some innovations in his concerts, including more new or unusual works, to attract more people to the Philharmonic.
The Masterworks Series at the Embassy Theatre began on September 12, 2009, with Jaime Laredo conducting Johann Sebastian Bach's Concerto for Two Violins and Johannes Brahms' Concerto for Violin with Laredo and Bella Hristova, violins, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor. The season concluded on May 8, 2010, with Andrew Constantine conducting Carl Nielsen's Helios Overture; Francis Poulenc's Gloria (with three choruses and a soprano soloist); and Gustav Holst's The Planets (featuring the Grand Page pipe organ).
WBNI again taped the Masterworks Series during the 2009–10 season and broadcast each concert 12 days later on Thursdays at 8 p.m. For example, the September 12 concert was broadcast on September 24 at 8 p.m.
The Masterworks Series for the season began on September 11, 2010 with Constantine conducting Prokofiev's Suite from Love for Three Oranges; Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto with Gil Shaham, violin, and Adagio for Strings (in observance of the 100th anniversary of Barber's birth); Debussy's La Mer. It ended on May 7, 2011, with Constantine conducting Mendelssohn's Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream; Michael Daugherty's Hell's Angels with four bassoon soloists (in the presence of the composer); and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. Guest conductors were:
The Masterworks Series concerts were again taped for broadcast on WBNI; the broadcasts have continued since then.
The 2011-12 season began on September 10, 2011, with Andrew Constantine conducting Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor (orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski); Philip Glass' Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanist with timpanists Jonathan Haas and Eric Schweikert; Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 in G Major. On October 1, 2012, Constantine conducted Rossini's Overture to William Tell; Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35, with violinist Jonathan Carney; and Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 1. During the season, other soloists included guitarist Jason Vieaux in Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez with guitarist Jason Vieaux; Sibelius'; cellist Joshua Roman in William Walton's Concerto for Cello and Orchestra; pianist Andrew von Oeyen in Johannes Brahms' Concerto No. 1 in D minor for Piano and Orchestra; and pianist Ilya Yakushev in Prokofiev's Concerto No. 3 in C Major for Piano and Orchestra. Matthias Bamert guest conducted the orchestra in Dmitri Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with violinist Elena Urioste and excerpts from Sergei Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet. The season concluded on May 12, 2012, when Constantine conducted Beethoven's Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus; Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring; and Mozart's Requiem.
The 2012-13 season began on September 22, 2012, and concluded on May 18, 2013, in the Embassy Theatre. The Masterworks concerts schedule included:
Andrew Constantine announced an additional two Masterworks concerts for the 2013-14 season, bringing the total to ten performances. Most of the concerts were scheduled for the Embassy Theatre; three concerts were at the Auer Performance Hall at IPFW (Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne). Constantine was scheduled to conduct all of the Masterworks concerts during this season.
The Fort Wayne Philharmonic announced that six of its ten Masterworks concerts for the 2014-15 season would take place at the Embassy Theatre and the remaining four would be at the Auer Performance Hall on the IPFW campus in Fort Wayne. This season, all concerts were scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.