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News of Otsego County

Fenimore Chamber Orchestra

A Chat with Maestro Maciej Żołtówski

A Chat with Maestro Maciej Żołtówski

By T. STEPHEN WAGER

COOPERSTOWN – The recent, and almost sudden, appearance of Fenimore Chamber Orchestra on the scene in Cooperstown certainly has garnered salvos from every area. Needless to say, Maestro Żołtówski’s rich international background has brought about an extraordinary fabric of different styles and the ease in which those styles are communicated via conducting.

When asked who provided him with the greatest influence, without any hesitation, Maestro Żołtówski replied, “Krzysztof Penderecki. When I met him for the first time, I must say I was in awe of this man. After all, by that time he was already a living legend. On one occasion, I can hear him as if it were yesterday, he told me to never let go of my artistic vision and never give up!”

Winds Concert ‘a Musical Triumph’

Winds Concert ‘a Musical Triumph’

by Karolina Hopper

The recent performances by the Fenimore Chamber Orchestra on October 8 at Christ Church in Cooperstown featured the winds section of the orchestra and revealed some rarely heard and as well as some well-known works.

This balance between the rare and well-known seems already an established norm for this very stylish orchestra.
The beginning of the concert brought two complete rarities. The Italian opera composer Gaetano Donizetti, far better known for his late 37 operas than any of his orchestral pieces, composed his “Sinfonia for Winds” when he was only 17 years old and a student in Bologna.

Fenimore Chamber Orchestra Returns With ‘Music for Winds’

Fenimore Chamber Orchestra
Returns With ‘Music for Winds’

By T. Stephen Wager

The Fenimore Chamber Orchestra performed its inaugural concert at Cooperstown’s Christ Church on August 27, and it was a huge success. Now they are gearing up for another concert at the same location on Saturday, October 8.

“When we all have time to actually sit and think about what happened in August, we are proud of the work we did and the exceptionally high quality of the performances,” said Thomas Wolf, chair of the Governing Board of Directors of Fenimore Chamber Orchestra.

“When an organization begins, there is much work that continually presents itself, so we really have had little time to think of the ramification of that debut; in other words, the work continues.”

Brilliant Debut of Fenimore Chamber Orchestra

Brilliant Debut of
Fenimore Chamber Orchestra

By T. Stephen Wager
Maestro Maciej Żółtowski with members of Fenimore Chamber Orchestra

In these days when so much strife is to be found seemingly everywhere in the world, the genesis of any new orchestra is a unifying element to the human spirit. This was how Thomas Wolf described it on August 27 during the opening celebrations of Fenimore Chamber Orchestra at its debut concert.

Mr. Wolf is Chair of the Governing Board of Directors. Certainly, many in the capacity audience at historic and beautiful Christ Church in Cooperstown must have felt the same. A sense of wonderment at the fact that Fenimore Chamber Orchestra was founded during a pandemic also pervaded the afternoon. This is no small feat considering many musical organizations folded during the pandemic. It is, much to the contrary, a tribute to the vision and tenacity of Mr. Wolf, Director of Operations Rosemary Summers and Maestro Zoltowski, not to mention the Governing Board of Directors.

Fenimore Chamber Orchestra Starting Strong

Fenimore Chamber
Orchestra Starting Strong

Thomas Wolf and Rosemary Summers

Rosemary Summers brings a lot of experience to the new Fenimore Chamber Orchestra.

“I actually got my start in the music business with the Catskill Symphony Orchestra and the Catskill Conservatory back in the 70s,” Ms. Summers, Chief Operations Officer of the new orchestra said.

“Everything that is involved in the physical production of a concert is what I am in charge of. Hiring the
appropriate musicians, securing the venue, providing the sheet music for everyone…chairs, stands lights, front of house, ticketing ushers…that’s what I’m in charge of.”

“That was back in the 70s. I was a student of Carleton Clay, the founder of the Conservatory. He offered me a job and taught me how to be a music copyist. Chuck Schnieder saw my work and he asked me to be a copyist as well for Catskill Symphony.”

Maciej Żółtowski, Music Director of Fenimore Chamber Orchestra and Catskill Symphony Orchestra

Fenimore Chamber
Orchestra Coming To Area

“I am a busy man!” said Maciej Żółtowski.

“I am still the Music Director at Catskill Symphony Orchestra and am now the Music Director at Fenimore Chamber Orchestra!”, he said. “It’s not unusual to be music director for two or three companies. I remember my first meeting with Thomas Wolf, Executive Director, and we developed a fruitful relationship. It just all grew from there.“

“In every organization, the music director is always the conductor of the orchestras that we are talking about. This works for me because my idea is to fill the seasons to compliment our concerts so we can provide the audiences in the area with a full season of symphonic concerts, chamber concerts, of different character that don’t conflict with each other. They are completely different types of music being presented,” Mr. Żółtowski said.

Fenimore Chamber Orchestra prepares inaugural concert

Fenimore Chamber Orchestra prepares August inaugural performance

Thomas Wolf, Fenimore Chamber Orchestra’s governing board Chair

Talk only for a few minutes with Thomas Wolf and one realizes this is a person who does nothing by half measure – even an idea in the middle of a global pandemic with two like-minded friends to found a chamber orchestra with a home base in Cooperstown.

After two years of the grunt work – filing as a corporation in New York, forming a 501(c)(3), gathering a board of directors, securing the funding needed to begin, and finding a suitable venue – the Fenimore Chamber Orchestra is preparing its inaugural concert at Christ Church in Cooperstown on August 27. Not just a culmination of logistical preparation, the concert is the beginning of what Mr. Wolf anticipates will be a resounding cultural success adding to the region’s artistic palette.

The trio brings international talent to the task: Mr. Wolf, himself an opera and concert performer in Europe and with 25 years in arts administration, serves as the chair of the orchestra’s governing board. His co-founders are Chief Operations Officer Rosemary Summers, for 25 years James Levine’s private librarian at the Metropolitan Opera, and Music Director Maciezj Zoltowski, a world-renowned conductor of many festival orchestras across Europe.

“The three of us had converged up here,” Mr. Wolf recalled. “Rosemary and I were talking on the phone a year ago February about what we could do now that we’re all here. We said at the same time, ‘we must found our own orchestra!”

“We identified a need and have answered that need for the community at large in presenting orchestral performances at the highest artistic and professional level,” he said. “We knew the pandemic would ease. Many arts institutions closed their doors and musicians lost their livelihood during the pandemic, and yet here we are founding our own chamber orchestra. People we’ve spoken to in Cooperstown say it would be a perfect idea.”

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