Binghamton, NY – April 29, 2019 – The Binghamton Community Orchestra closes its 2018-2019 season – and ends an era – on Saturday May 11th with a reunion of two of the Southern Tier’s most noted musicians, Pianist/Conductor John Covelli and Conductor/Clarinetist Timothy Perry. The program, “Danubian Delights,” includes the Romanian Folk Dances of Béla Bartók, the Sixth Symphony of Antonín Dvořák, and the remarkable but seldom-heard Variations on a Nursery Song for Piano and Orchestra by Ernst von Dohnányi.
“The Danube has been for millennia the superhighway of Europe,” notes Perry, “not only in terms of commerce and transportation but as a line of cultural and artistic interchange over an immense area of Europe. It flows through more European countries, and more European capital cities – Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade – than any other river. The Danube connects the Germanic traditions of Austria, Germany, and Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) to the Slavic homelands in Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. Its music likewise marries the familiar traditions of Western Europe to the more rich and exotic histories of the former empires of the Ottomans and Russia. The music of Béla Bartók is bound firmly to Eastern European folk music, while the music of von Dohnányi lies in the traditional realm of Brahms and Beethoven, with Dvořák happily borrowing from both East and West.”
“Ernst von Dohnányi’s Variations on a Nursery Song (1914) is an incredibly subtle and witty set of variations which references the styles of everyone from Liszt to Brahms to Berlioz to – you name it, it’s probably in there somewhere. And this seemingly simplistic work features one of the most difficult solo piano parts ever composed. Only a true virtuoso such as John Covelli can successfully take on a work of this difficulty. Oh, the nursery theme is none other than “Twinkle, Twinkle, and Little Star”.
“The Bartók Romanian Folk Dances stem from Bartók’s work recording, collecting, transcribing and ultimately including in his own works native songs and dances of that country from 1905 onwards. The tiny set of seven Romanian pieces became a sensation when introduced, and are now heard in arrangements for almost every solo instrument and piano.”
“Dvořák’s Sixth Symphony (1879) is a work of a mature intelligence and a youthful spirit. Conductor Hans Richter commissioned the work for the Vienna Philharmonic, only to suffer its rejection by the orchestral members on the grounds that they refused to play so much music by the Bohemian ‘foreigner’ Dvořák. Richter merely brought the premiere to London later that year (1880) and its superb blend of easygoing folk-like melodies (reminiscent of his Slavonic Dances) and complete structural control (the work is almost a sister to Brahms’ Second Symphony) makes it one of Dvořák’s most completely fulfilling works.”
The concert also marks the last performance led by Conductor Timothy Perry, who is retiring after 16 “magical, musically fulfilling, and fun” seasons with the BCO. BCO Board President Barry Peters reflected on Dr. Perry’s tenure with the orchestra. “Under Tim Perry’s direction, the size of the orchestra and the audience have grown, the quality of the performances has improved, and we have all become acquainted with music that is both interesting and in many cases new to our ears. Tim has provided the orchestra and the audience with countless historical anecdotes related to the music, through his talks during the concerts. Additionally, he thoroughly enjoys working with the members of the orchestra. He has been able to promote a sense of loyalty to the orchestra by the members of the ensemble. His musicianship, his intellect, and his leadership will be missed when he retires.”
Guest artist, John Covelli is certainly a household name for music lovers here in Binghamton. With twenty-one seasons as Music Director of the Binghamton Philharmonic and many more years concertizing on piano, Covelli has made significant contributions to the greater Binghamton music and arts community.
Long time friend, Lance Hill, enumerated some of Covelli’s accomplishments with the orchestra. “Covelli, brought a precision and a level of professionalism to the orchestra. This set the BPO on a different plane from before.” Hill went on to explain, “Covelli brought many nationally and internationally known artists to the Binghamton stage to solo with the orchestra. He chose repertoire that challenged the orchestra and audiences alike.” Concertgoers could hear favorite classical selections on the same program with the unfamiliar, dazzling new works. Offerings would expand beyond classical into jazz, pop, and folk. His innovative programming included multi-media events, original educational productions, (such as Beethoven and Blue Jeans, Music and the Magical Brain, Sci-Fi Nite at the Symphony, and Beethoven Lives Upstairs) and chamber music, to list just some of what he offered to Binghamton.
As a virtuoso pianist, Covelli graced many venues in the community. Music lovers still wait in excited anticipation for his annual New Years Eve recitals at St. Patrick’s church. Every year, the sanctuary is packed with concertgoers who flock to hear him play. Covelli has performed frequently also at the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage. Covelli became curator of the Classical Division of the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage. There, he appears either as a soloist, or as a member of a small chamber ensemble, giving exposure to other fine musicians in the area, and providing the community with a variety of high quality musical experiences. Similarly, audiences have enjoyed his performances for WSKG’s Expressions series. He has performed at the Phelps Mansion, and has been involved with the ”Classical Pianists of the Future” series, providing mentoring, and sometimes conducting a chamber orchestra to accompany the rising stars there. Covelli has, and will continue to provide many opportunities to the community to hear world-class performances of music, right in our own back yard.
Music performance has been part of John Covelli all his life. Beginning lessons at the age of four, Covelli appeared on stage as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by the age of nine! He would go on to study piano with Carl Friedberg in New York (who himself studied with Clara Schumann), and conducting with Pierre Monteux at the Pierre Monteux School in Hancock, Maine. Covelli would serve as Assistant Conductor under Monteux with the London Symphony Orchestra. He toured Europe with the famous Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra as their concert pianist and, later, also as their conductor. He was Music Director with the Flint Symphony Orchestra prior to coming to Binghamton, and held the Greater Palm Beach Symphony Music Director position concurrently with his BPO directorship. Additionally, Covelli has been at the helm of the Brockton Symphony, Assistant Conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony, Resident Conductor for the Kansas City Symphony, and Associate Conductor for the Milwaukee Symphony, among others. Concurrent with other positions, he was Conductor of the Glendale (CA) Symphony Orchestra, and several other opera and ballet companies. He was Assistant Conductor of the New York City Opera. Covelli served as conductor of the Harkness Ballet (NY), the Eglevsky Russian Ballet, taking them on extensive tours. Covelli made several appearances as guest soloist and conductor with the Boston Pops Orchestra. He would later become a top contender for the Music Director position with that orchestra. Among his recordings, Covelli may be heard with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, playing Concerti by Shostakovich and Saint-Saens (IMP Classics).
Covelli has received numerous accolades and rave reviews for his many performances on piano and as a conductor. He has won many honors and international competitions, including the Queen Elizabeth of Brussels competition and the Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano, Italy. Covelli is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Alliance Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts.
This great talent has made Binghamton his home, and Binghamton is much richer for it. We will continue to enjoy the music John Covelli has to offer us for many years to come.
Music lovers are invited to hear the Binghamton Community Orchestra in “Danubian Delights,” conducted by Dr. Timothy Perry, with guest artist John Covelli, on May 11, 2019 at Binghamton East Middle School Auditorium at 7:00 pm, with support from the orchestra’s corporate sponsor, Weis Markets. The school is located at 167 E. Frederick Street, Binghamton, NY. Tickets for this concert are available at the door.
- Adults – $12
- Seniors/students – $10
- Children 12 and under are admitted for free.
For additional information about John Covelli, please visit his website at: http://www.johncovelli.com/conductor_main.html.
For additional information about the concert, and the Binghamton Community Orchestra, please visit the orchestra’s website at: http://binghamtoncommunityorchestra.org/.
This project is made possible with public funds from the Chenango Arts Council’s Decentralization Program, a re-grant program of the NYS Council on the Arts, with support from Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature.
Additional support for Broome County provided by the Stewart W. & Willma C. Hoyt Foundation.
For questions, please call or email at:
Phone: (607) 862-6268