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The Bear Creek Chamber Orchestra

There's good news for classical music lovers in the Rogue Valley. There's a new orchestra in town. Called The Bear Creek Chamber Orchestra, the ensemble will perform its inaugural concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at Congregational United Church of Christ, 1801 E. Jackson St., Medford.

A repeat performance will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 30, in the newly renovated Sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church, 175 N. Main St., Ashland.

Conductor Louis Franks organized The Bear Creek Chamber Orchestra. A veteran conductor from the Bay Area, Franks recently moved to Ashland.

"The orchestra is fully professional, and of a modest size," Franks said in a press release. It has about 14 string players with 10 to 12 woodwind players. The repertoire featured is drawn mainly from the classical and late baroque eras. Franks also enjoys music from other periods written especially for the small orchestra such as the Stravinsky "Suite for Small Orchestra" and Bela Bartok's "Rumanian Folk Dances."

The program for the orchestra's first concert will feature music by Mozart, Rossini and Bach. The selection by Mozart is seldom-heard "Sinfonie Concertante in Eb," a piece for four solo woodwinds and small orchestra. Featured soloists are Kristin Kessler, oboe; Lori Calhoun, clarinet; Kathy Staller, bassoon; and Jenifer Carstensen, horn.

Franks acknowledged that the Rogue Valley Symphony is the primary large orchestra for the Rogue Valley.

"While there may be some overlap of pieces played by the orchestras, the majority will be different." According to Franks, Rogue Valley Symphony plays music intended for the large symphony orchestra. The Bear Creek Chamber Orchestra will play works composed for small orchestras.

"For guest soloists, I plan to use accomplished musicians drawn from the community rather than soloists from outside the area," Franks said. "We are opening the way for future professional soloists to gain experience with a live orchestra rather than playing piano arrangements of concertos and other solo works."

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students, available at Paddington Station and Music Coop, Ashland; and Grocery Outlet, Medford; or at the door.

Conductor Louis Franks organized The Bear Creek Chamber Orchestra.