TRAVERSE CITY — Kevin Rhodes will be seated at the piano instead of standing behind the podium when he leads a Traverse Symphony Orchestra chamber concert Sunday, Feb. 24, in Corson Auditorium.
The TSO music director and pianist will star in “Kevin and ‘Friends,” which includes TSO principals Nancy Stagnitta, flute; Lynn Hansen, oboe; Jeanmarie Riccobono, clarinet; Lauren Murphy, bassoon; Robert Pavelek, French horn; Paul Sonner, violin; Beth Weston, violin; David Holland, viola; and Elizabeth Bert, cello.
They’ll perform Mozart’s melodic “Quintet in E Flat for Piano and Winds,” Poulenc’s technical tour-de-force “Sextet for Piano and Woodwind Quintet” and Dvorák’s folksy “Piano Quintet in A major.”
Rhodes will lead the program from Corson’s 9-foot Steinway Concert Grand Piano.
“This is actually the first time we’ve done a program like this,” Rhodes said. “We’ve done chamber orchestra programs, and I’ve played solos or benefit recitals, but I’ve never had the chance to work on several pieces of chamber music, playing myself along with the musicians, before.
“From the moment I started to consider music in terms of how a piece of music would be ‘conducted,’ that reformed entirely how I see and understand music — so much so, that it’s impossible to imagine my playing not being informed by that. Conversely, it’s extremely valuable for me to retain contact with actually producing notes myself, i.e. playing the piano, so it’s a great part of my continuing self-education to get back to the instrument with the distinct objective of a concert for which to prepare.”
For Riccobono, the intimate concert is a rare opportunity to come out from behind the strings, where wind and brass players are usually relegated.
“People have heard us play solos in the back of the orchestra, but this is right in front,” said the clarinetist, a former Interlochen Arts Academy instructor and an elementary music specialist at The Children’s House. “This allows each of us to come to the fore with our music making and our talent. People get to see our body language more.”
The chamber concert will allow audiences to watch the principals work together, as in Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds, considered by the composer to be his best work.
“What I love about the Mozart is it passes beautiful melodies from one instrument to the next, and our job is to do it seamlessly,” said Riccobono, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Northwestern University. “It’s like watching a really great Olympic team that passes the baton from one member to the next.”
Tickets range from $20 to $55, plus fees, at traversesymphony.org.