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From Russia With Love
Hear the words “chamber orchestra” and you probably don’t instantly think: 2.7 million YouTube hits, audience participation, or young, glamorous, rambunctious, and fun. Yet all of these apply to Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, whose performance is certain to be one of the most dynamic at Washington College this spring.
This high-energy 18-piece ensemble will perform as part of The Washington College Concert Series on March 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre of the Gibson Center for the Arts. The program will begin with pieces by Eskender Bekmambetov, one composed especially for Chamber Orchestra Kremlin. Following an intermission—which will include a reception in the Underwood Lobby—the orchestra will play Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 2, Op. 22.
With nearly 2,000 performances in more than 24 countries, this ensemble has earned acclaim across the world, including the Diapason d’Or award in France, Critics Choice in London’s Gramophone, Critics Choice in The New York Times, and Record of the Year award in Hong Kong. Of about 1,000 compositions in the orchestra’s repertoire, over 20 were written especially for the orchestra by composers from Russia, Europe, and the U.S.
Founded in 1991 and comprised of some of Russia’s finest young string players, the orchestra has carved a niche under the creative baton of its founder and music director Misha Rachlevsky. The orchestra is known for its rich sound and creative concert practices, including keeping score (pun intended) of standing ovations, or performing “The Audience Vote!” concerts, when the audience gets to choose what pieces of music they’d like to hear.
Misha Rachlevsky’s lifetime affinity for chamber music and chamber orchestra repertoire began at the College of the Moscow Conservatory and the Gnessin Academy of Music. Born in Moscow, his violin studies began at the age of five and continued through the well-traveled path of the Russian school of string playing. After leaving the Soviet Union in 1973, he lived and worked in different countries on three continents, and in 1976 settled in the United States, becoming active in the field of chamber music.
“When I decided to start a new orchestra, I did not want it to be mistaken with any others, so I was looking for a name which would not have ‘Moscow’ or ‘Russian’ in it, yet would clearly identify our origin,” Rachlevsky writes on the orchestra’s website. “Looks like it worked.”
Composer Eskender Bekmambetov was born in Uzbekistan in 1966. Since his childhood, he has been surrounded by a variety of different cultures whose tunes and rhythms have driven his work. He worked as a violinist for Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, and the works he composed for it have elicited praise from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mikhail Baryshnikov, John Corigliano, and others.
Individual tickets are $20 (adults) and $15 (non-WC students, seniors over 65, College faculty, and staff). WC students and youth 18 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at the door with cash or check. To purchase in advance with a credit card, go to washcoll.edu/concert. For more information, visit concertseries.washcoll.edu, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (410) 778-7839. Recordings of the orchestra will be available for purchase at the concert.