Not only does the Solon Philharmonic Orchestra’s first concert of the season later this month have a unique twist, but it also has a new conductor.
Leading the orchestra’s first-ever Halloween concert “Spooktacular” presented at 3 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Solon Center for the Arts is Concord resident Laura Joss, who labels her enthusiasm “unbridled” when it comes to her new role.
“I believe that music making comes from a place of joy, and after meeting this orchestra, I knew that we had that in common and that I had found my people,” Ms. Joss, 58, said.
A conductor for the past 30 years, Ms. Joss said that she is thrilled to be working with such a dedicated group of musicians to make music together.
“We want to attract audience members of all ages,” she said, “and all music tastes.
“We hope that they will attend our concerts to experience the joy of music and perhaps even learn something new.”
Ms. Joss, who was recently invited to conduct the Solon Community Band, came to the philharmonic after making a connection with SCA music coordinator Vanessa Majewski.
“It was a wonderful reunion,” Ms. Joss said, noting that Ms. Majewski played flute in her orchestra at the Cleveland Music School Settlement while Ms. Majewski was in high school.
“I was thrilled to be back in touch because she is such an incredible musician and person,” Ms. Joss said. “The thought of possibly working together was a real kick.”
She also had the opportunity to hear the philharmonic and realized that they played beyond the community orchestras she had heard in the past, she said.
“I was thrilled that we might have the opportunity to make music together.”
An instructor at Cuyahoga Community College West Campus for the Youth Honors Wind Ensembles and Orchestras, Ms. Joss is soon beginning a New Horizons Band Program for adults in Euclid and completing her doctorate at Case Western Reserve University where her concentration is adult community music making.
She came to know of her potential as a conductor while an undergraduate student, she said, when her then trumpet teacher James Darling of the Cleveland Orchestra saw that she had what it took, allowing her to conduct the college brass ensemble with him.
“I was hooked,” she said. “I have continued to conduct every opportunity I have been given – bands and orchestras.” She loves to be able to do both, she added.
She said she finds the philharmonic unique in that it is comprised of high-quality musicians that are playing difficult, original orchestral music as well as the fact it is an intergenerational music ensemble that includes students from the Solon schools as well as professional people in the community, and some music teachers.
“It is a great recipe for outstanding music making,” she said.
Also unique is that the orchestra is supported by the city, Ms. Joss said, as well as by the Solon schools.
In its 12th season, the orchestra is comprised of 24 members and is always looking for more. They present three concerts per season, all at the Solon Center for the Arts. The next two are on March 1, 2020, and May 31, 2020.
Ms. Joss described with enthusiasm the first Halloween concert, which will be comprised of music of all types from “Night on Bald Mountain” to “Monster Mash.”
Kids and adults are encouraged to wear a costume for the concert, and there will be a contest with prizes, she noted.
Master of Ceremonies Scott Sumerak will serve as narrator of the show and will be the official story teller for one of the special pieces that the strings will perform – “The House of Untold Horrors.”
“I intentionally programmed a variety of music that would be accessible for audience members of all ages,” Ms. Joss said. “Our goal is to connect with the community.” To that end, they will perform original orchestra repertoire in an effort to expose the audience to some of the best standard orchestra music of the time and to play light orchestra pieces so that the audience members recognize most of the selections and may even want to sing or conduct along, she added.
Music will be played from “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter,” and even “Scooby Doo.”
Ms. Joss, who began her love of music as a young girl, has played violin since the fourth grade, falling in love with the trumpet two years later.
“This is going to be an extraordinary year of music making for the Solon Philharmonic,” she said. “Each performance will be a celebration of all of the musical and artistic talents of the members of the Solon community.”