Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings is now considered by many to be the most popular of all 20th-century orchestral works and his Violin Concerto has become one of the most frequently performed of all 20th-century concertos.


Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra performed both along with other famous pieces written by William Grant Still and Howard Hanson during the turbulent times of the Great Depression and World War II eras. 


The concert on Sunday, October 26 at 3:00 p.m. at the Rhinebeck High School Auditorium kicked off the orchestra’s American Portrait series, a season devoted to the works of America’s great classical music composers.

Barber’s Violin Concerto spotlighted soloist Marka Young who is NDSO’s concertmaster and Rene O. Jacobus Chair.  Her performance of the concerto’s lush, song-like passages in the first two movements and its demanding, lightning-fast (550 notes per minute to be exact) finale in the third thrilled the audience.


The Sunday afternoon program also featured William Grant Still’s wonderfully expressive Wood Notes, which was composed in the 1940’s.  It was just one of the more than 150 compositions he wrote during his lifetime.  Still is often referred to as "the Dean" of African-American composers, having been the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony performed by a leading orchestra, and the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company.


The last of the “made in America” favorites on the program was Howard Hanson’s “Romantic” Symphony, which the Boston Symphony Orchestra premiered in 1930. After seeing Hanson conduct it in Rochester, N.Y., Kodak founder George Eastman hired him to direct his six-year-old music school, which Hanson did successfully for 40 years.


The orchestra was conducted by Kathleen Beckmann who said, “I am inspired by the music of our season opener which honors the memories of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Composed around the time of FDR’s presidency, these works reflect the pride and determination that was so important to our country’s survival through those difficult years.”

The campus of The Culinary Institute of America came alive with the sounds of Rodgers and Hammerstein when the Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra brought back beloved melodies from the musicals of these two Broadway greats.


The concert on Saturday, February 7 at 8:00 p.m. was performed in the new 800-seat Marriott Pavilion Auditorium at The Culinary Institute of America overlooking the Hudson River in Hyde Park, NY. 

Guest vocalists Jeremy Moore, Marie Masters, Anthony Webb and Emily Gellerl joined the orchestra to sing timeless melodies from Oklahoma, South Pacific, Carousel, The King and I and The Sound of Music.


To complement this enchanting evening of music, The CIA opened the Caterina de' Medici restaurant for a special $39 pre-performance dining experience. 

The Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra continued its American Portrait Series with “Beyond Ellis Island”, a performance of works from American naturalized citizens Ernest Bloch, Victor Herbert, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Woodstock, New York’s own Robert Starer.

Steeped in local and American lore, the concert was performed in the historic Old Dutch Church in Kingston, NY and featured the 112 year-old Mendelssohn Club of Kingston – an all-male chorus conducted by Paul Scatenato.


Also performing with NDSO’s string orchestra were soprano Jody Weatherstone and NDSO principal clarinetist William Stevens.  

Our last concert in this season's American Portrait series featured powerful works from two major forces in American music: Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. Our evening performance on June 20 showcased orchestra soloists Joël EvansStephen Austin and dancers from the Poughkeepsie City Ballet