Clinton Symphony back for first indoor concert in 17 months

Local News

For the first time in 17 months, the Clinton Symphony Orchestra returns to the concert stage indoors on Saturday, Sept. 18, with a performance featuring conductor Brian Dollinger as double bass soloist, along with Istvan Szabo, faculty violist at Western Illinois University.

The two will perform a Sinfonia Concertante written for those instruments and orchestra by 18th-century composer Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf. The concert, billed as “A Joyous Return,” is at 7:30 p.m. in the Vernon Cook Theater at Clinton High School.

“After such a tumultuous past year, I and the musicians of the Clinton Symphony Orchestra are eager to be back together making amazing, inspiring and entertaining LIVE symphonic music for you,” Dollinger said in an orchestra release.

In addition to the Concertante, Szabo will perform a Potpourri for Viola and Orchestra by Hummel. The orchestra will complete the program with the “Dance of the Furies” from Gluck’s opera “Orpheus and Eurydice,” and a Mozart Divertimento.

Violist Istvan Szabo

Szabo has been on faculty at Western Illinois University since 2005, and has served as artist/faculty in summer music festivals in the United States and Europe. He has appeared as soloist with orchestras and as a chamber musician.

Dollinger’s bass study began in fifth grade, and he has performed in solo recitals, chamber music, and as a soloist with orchestras. He has been a member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra bass section.

Clinton Symphony conductor Brian Dollinger will perform as double bass soloist in the Sept. 18 concert.

The most recent Clinton Symphony indoor concert was in April of 2020. The remainder of that season, and all of the 2020-2021 season was canceled due to Covid. The ensemble played an outdoor Pops Concert in June 2021.

“It’s feeling great to get back to making music together,” orchestra executive director Robert Whipple said on Friday by email. “We chose not to make any ‘virtual’ recordings during the down season. There is already enough recordings of things. We specialize in LIVE music.”

Having a conductor serve as soloist with orchestra is done all the time, he said. “The orchestra can basically play together. The soloist/conductor has rehearsed the orchestra, and can indicate starting and stopping points. The orchestra, as any ‘accompanist,’ follows the soloist. The concertmaster (first violinist) plays a good role in the process as well.”

Construction projects at Clinton High School have altered access to Vernon Cook Theater. The old parking lot and entrance to the commons area are blocked off. Parking is now available across 8th Avenue South, and entrance to the theater is on the west side of the commons. Some handicap parking and level entrance is still available on the south side of the commons area.

Tickets for the performance, as well as season tickets, will be available at the door. Adult admission is $20, and all students are admitted free of charge. In addition, a student may bring an adult to the concert for half-price.

There are no mask or social distancing requirements for the concert, Whipple said. “We suggest that each person determine their comfort level with masking and distancing. We have hand sanitizer and available masks, and Vernon Cook Theater at Clinton High School is large enough that everyone can find their comfortable space.”

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