The Long Island Concert Orchestra makes its performance debut in May at Tilles Center, its first major public event since forming last fall as successor to the disbanded Long Island Philharmonic.
The new professional symphony orchestra will be in concert May 19 at the longtime home of the Philharmonic before its demise just over a year ago.
The Long Island Concert Orchestra was formed in September in a collaboration between Chamber Players International and its director David Winkler along with former Philharmonic music director David Stewart Wiley and his fellow musicians.
The Tilles Center concert, on the LIU Post campus in Brookville, is a live performance of “The Godfather” score by Nino Rota accompanying a high-definition screening of the first of the three “Godfather” movies, starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Diane Keaton.
If not a classical program, it is at least classic and “an important first step in establishing our new symphony orchestra,” Winkler said. The next step, he said, is an expanded summer program of free concerts and, “hopefully the return of the Tilles New Year’s Eve gala,” last performed by the Philharmonic in 2015.
“We always try to support local musicians and artists,” said William Biddle, executive director of Tilles Center. “So when they [Long Island Concert Orchestra musicians] came back together, we reached out to them about the ‘Godfather’ concert. And we’re in conversations about other projects, including New Year’s Eve.”
Looking ahead, Winkler and music director Wiley both said they are “cautiously optimistic” about establishing a subscription season. The Philharmonic’s last such season was in 2009-10. None were scheduled thereafter due to financial shortfalls that led to the Philharmonic closing after New Jersey-based Valley National Bank declined to renegotiate a loan.
Movement began almost immediately toward a new orchestra involving Chamber Players International, which itself was formed in the ashes of another Long Island ensemble, the Sea Cliff Chamber Players. The Winkler-led chamber group of about 20 musicians performs at Old Westbury Gardens and Huntington’s Coindre Hall, as well as at New York City venues.
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In planning its future, the Long Island Concert Orchestra hosts an invitational conference in Uniondale next Monday evening among “friends of music and culture on Long Island,” Winkler said. The event will be hosted by board member Jeffrey Wurst and attended by Wiley, Winkler said.
Already under way is an education-in-arts program with BOCES and participating Long Island school districts, featuring side-by-side performances of Long Island Concert Orchestra and student musicians. The expanded program of free concerts features appearances at the Islip Arts Council’s annual patriotic music-and-fireworks event at Heckscher State Park and the Huntington Arts Council’s Summer Arts Festival; the orchestra played both last summer before its formation was officially announced.
As for its inaugural subscription season, Winkler said the board is aiming for 2018-19, with yet-to-be-negotiated fall concerts at Tilles and Staller centers to give the orchestra a presence in both Nassau and Suffolk, followed by the New Year’s Eve gala and two more dual programs in winter and spring.