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New Name, New Season: The Missouri Philharmonic Kicks Off Their 2019-2020 Season

(Poster design courtesy Missouri Philharmonic)

We knew them for 15 years as the Springfield-Drury Civic Orchestra.  They’ve changed their name this season to the Missouri Philharmonic Orchestra.  But it comprises the same musicians, and the same Music Director, Dr. Christopher Koch, wearing one of his several musical hats—he’s also Music Director of Springfield Regional Opera, and Associate Professor of Music at Drury University.  The Missouri Philharmonic opens the 2019-2020 season Thursday September 12 at 7:30pm in the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts.  Dr. Koch stopped by to talk about the concert.

But first, he wanted to mention some special recognition the orchestra has received this year. “We just won in our division, the Community Orchestra division—and that essentially means any orchestra that’s a combination of students, professionals, amateurs—but we won First Place in the American Prize competition.” Their website, www.theamericanprize.org, calls the organization “the nation's most comprehensive series of contests in the classical arts… based on submitted recordings.” Koch continued, “It’s fantastic. It represents the work of a lot of good people over, hard to believe, 15 years.”

About the September 12 concert, Dr. Koch said, “we’re very excited. One of the highlights will be Brahms’s Fourth Symphony, which was his last completed symphony. It’s both forward-looking, and reverential of the past, which is very much what Brahms himself was all about. And I’m sharing the podium on this particular concert with a friend, a conductor from Arizona, Daniel Keith O’Bryant, and he’ll be conducting the Brahms. And I was telling the orchestra the other day that I have a little bit of ‘Brahms envy’ over that!  But we’re really excited to welcome him this coming week.”

Dr. Koch conducts the other two works, both of which feature well-known local soprano Jennifer Forni.  “She actually did it last year (with the Springfield Symphony)—we’re reprising the Barber ‘Knoxville, Summer of 1915.’” She will also sing the popular aria “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s opera “Tosca.”  Dr. Koch called the Barber song setting “a really magical work.  I don’t get to conduct very many vocal pieces where the words are in English… and the second thing I always think is, when the words are in English they seem to be harder to understand than in any other language!  But the Barber is just a magical and evocative piece.”

General admission tickets are $15, or $6 for students with ID; kids age 11 and under are admitted free. They will be available at the door on the day of the concert, in advance at www.missouristatetix.com, or by phone at (417) 836-7678.

For information on the Missouri Philharmonic’s new season visit http://mophil.drury.edu.

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning Arts News. Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's Ozzie Award in 2006.