The Clarksville-based Gateway Chamber Orchestra experienced a whirlwind ride last week after helping Blanton Alspaugh win a Grammy for “Classical Producer of the Year” with their second studio album, “Chamber Symphonies.”
With 2013’s nomination being only one of his seven, Alspaugh credited the GCO, and said the records he produces are “only as successful as the quality of the recordings.” Gregory Wolynec, the orchestra’s conductor, voiced his pride in the orchestra’s recent achievements.
“There is no substitute for the publicity of being on that list,” Wolynec said of the GCO being included in the body of work Alspaugh submitted for the Grammy award. Only in their third subscription season, the GCO boasts two Grammy nominations, one of them a win, as well as multiple positive reviews from American Record Guide and an upcoming feature in classical music magazine Fanfare.
The GCO is composed of APSU professors, freelance musicians and Nashville Symphony membersand strives to produce music that shatters the stuffy aura of traditional classical music and refute the statement that “those who can’t, teach,” according to Wolynec.
“We a have a niche, so to speak,” Wolynec said, adding that the group tries to play more than the normal classical repertoire while still performing “amazing works of art.” The GCO plays five concerts per year of varying styles and instrumentations. In addition to an annual woodwind-focused concert, the 2012-2013 season has seen the GCO perform a show of primarily string pieces.
As well as playing many classical symphonies, the GCO has shown a taste for performing absurdist pieces, such as their Halloween-season rendition of H. K. Gruber’s “Frankenstein!!” which used a full video presentation and unconventional instruments to set a spooky scene. In the same mindset of playing underperformed music, the GCO’s winning record “Chamber Symphonies” is meant to be a collection of “overlooked treasures.”
The Grammy was awarded a mere 24 hours before the orchestra played its first concert of 2013, “Heavenly Strings,” which featured Nashville Symphony cellist Michael Samis and was met with acclaim by Leaf Chronicle reporter Karen Parr-Moody. “I was amazed,” Parr-Moody said in her review of the concert. The GCO’s praise extends beyond Clarksville, though.
“The players may be university faculty members augmented by practicing musicians from the outside community,” said Fanfare Magazine critic Jerry Dubins, “but in every way these are topnotch, professional performances that match or outclass the competition.”
For information on the GCO’s upcoming concerts or buying tickets, visit gatewaychamberorchestra.com.