Would you enjoy traveling 200 years back in time and tuning in to a pivotal time in music history? That rare opportunity will be offered at a benefit concert by the Encore/Coda Chamber Orchestra on Monday, July 16, at Deertrees Theater in Harrison.

The proceeds from the 8 p.m. concert go to the Lakes Environmental Association, a nonprofit organization that protects the water quality and watersheds of the Sebago-Long Lake Region. The orchestra has about 35 members, including Camp Encore-Coda’s faculty and staff, who are professional musicians or people studying to be professional musicians, and about 10 of the most talented campers. Tickets are available at Deertrees Theater, 583-6747.

“This concert is a really good snapshot of what music was like in the late 1700s and early 1800s,” said Don Dregalla, conductor of the Chamber Orchestra. “Domenico Cimorosa’s work was really popular. Then along come Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven and change that. Beethoven particularly just changed the way we view classical music,”

The evening starts with Cimarosa’s overture to Il matrimonio segreto, (The secret marriage). Now seldom performed, Cimarosa’s 1791 opera was incredibly popular in its day – far more popular than works by his legendary contemporary, Amadeus Mozart. Austrian Emperor Leopold II, for example, enjoyed Il matrimonio segreto so much that he had supper served to the cast and then ordered them to repeat the entire performance, a unique event in opera history.

“This was a very, very often-performed opera then,” Dregalla said. “Over the years Cimarosa’s star has faded a bit, but the overture is one of those things where once you hear it, you’ll go out singing it.”

Yet a musical revolution was under way and the composer of the evening’s next piece played a pivotal role in it. Franz Joseph Haydn, who wrote his Symphony No. 99 in E flat major in 1793, helped to establish the forms and styles for the string quartet and the symphony.

Haydn’s No. 99 was one of the influential composer’s last symphonies – out of 104 – but also is rarely performed today. Perhaps, Dregalla said, that’s because it doesn’t have a catchy title, such as Haydn’s Symphony No. 94 “Surprise Symphony” or Symphony 103 in E Flat “drum Roll.”

“I can’t remember hearing it live. And it’s very melodic, very straightforward,” Dregalla said. “It does exactly what a classical symphony should do – with a little bit of Haydn humor thrown in. It’s very upbeat and very melodic.”

Haydn represents a bridge between Cimarosa and the major change in music represented by the final composer on the concert program, Ludwig Von Beethoven, Dregalla said. Beethoven himself reportedly called Symphony No. 7 in A major (Op. 92), which premiered in 1811, “one of my best works.”

“It’s a great piece. A very challenging piece, just because it is technically difficult,” Dregalla said. “It’s not a very melodic piece. It’s a very rhythmic piece – just a really driving, energetic piece.”


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