The Blue Ridge Orchestra (BRO) presents Cello Cielo on Saturday, March 3, at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at Biltmore United Methodist Church in Asheville. The program, conducted by Milton Crotts, features associate principal cello for the Asheville Symphony Orchestra (ASO) Franklin Keel performing Joseph Haydn’s Concerto No. 2 in D Major for Cello with the BRO Chamber Symphony.
“The Haydn Cello Concerto is a breath of fresh mountain air,” says Keel. “The texture is warm and soothing, and the melodic content is rich with color and variety. I am so excited to collaborate with the BRO on my first performance of one of my favorite pieces in the cello literature.”
The program opens with the spotlight on BRO’s stellar oboe section in Allegro, the first movement of a Tomaso Albinoni concerto for two oboes. The Italian composer’s fascination with the instrument is reflected in this bright, charming piece published in 1722. Next, the chamber strings perform Simple Symphony, an enchanting work composed by Benjamin Britten in 1933. The work, based on music Britten initially wrote as a young boy, is dedicated to his childhood viola teacher Audrey Alston. The program closes with Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major, composed in 1783 for Antonín Kraft, a cellist in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s orchestra who later became known as the greatest cellist in Vienna. The virtuosic concerto has been delighting audiences for well over two centuries.
“This is a concert of new repertoire for me and for the BRO,” says Crotts. “Of the programmed works, I have only performed the third movement of Britten’s Simple Symphony, and it is such a treat to present the entire work. Albinoni is a great intro for this concert, and the Haydn is a joyful ensemble work that provides a fine cellist like Franklin with the opportunity to shine as a solo player.”
Keel previously performed with the BRO in May 2016, when he played the Brahms Double Concerto with Kathryn Gardner. In addition to the BRO and the ASO, he has performed in many locally and regionally acclaimed projects, including the Opal String Quartet, the Asheville Tango Orchestra, Upland Drive and Sirius B. He has appeared as a soloist with the Hendersonville Symphony, the Brevard Philharmonic and other community orchestras in the Asheville Area and has shared the concert stage with Ben Sollee, Pierce Edens, Liberated State and Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band. The Blue Ridge Orchestra is excited to welcome him back to perform one of the brightest gems in the cello repertoire.
The Biltmore United Methodist Church is located at 376 Hendersonville Road, in Asheville. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for Friends of the Orchestra and $5 for students. For tickets and information, visit blueridgeorchestra.org or call 828.782.3354.