Saturday afternoon we hosted the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, their phenomenal Maestro Andrew Sewell, and pianist Ilya Yakushev. Outstanding only scratches the surface when describing the performance. The WCO opened with Paul Lewis' English Suite for String Orchestra, a light and exciting opening by a composer who wrote for film, TV and the concert hall, including Monty Python's Flying Circus and The Benny Hill Show. Ilya Yakushev joined the WCO strings for JS Bach's Concerto No. 1—originally written for harpsichord—and demonstrated his exceptional technical ability. After intermission, the Chamber Orchestra's wind and brass players joined the strings onstage for Arnold Schonberg's Chamber Symphony No. 2, a complex avante-garde work that Maestro Andrew Sewell described as multiple harmonies masterfully weaved together by one of the twentieth centuries great composers. The concert closed with Ilya Yakushev back onstate, masterfully performing Felix Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor. The audience was left with no choice but to deliver a standing ovation to both Mr. Yakushev, Mr. Sewell and the orchestra.
We were delighted to host such a talented Wisconsin ensemble, and we also received rave reviews from the performers who thoroughly enjoyed the venue and its fine acoustics—some even stating that they could hear better onstage in Merrill than at their orchestral home, the Overture Center. Thanks to the Merrill Area Concert Association, we are able to have professional classical music performances right in our backyard.
Special thanks for this performance go out to Helene Ader and her daughter Christine Smith, Chad Premeau, Joseph Storm, Brad Weber, Craig & Sharon Rezin, and Mark & Chris Riebe—the program would not have been possible or have run so smoothly with all of your assistance!