Rocky Fork Enterprise

Orchestra founder Kessler will be honored with Continuum


Gahanna Lincoln High School orchestra founder Robert Kessler will be honored with a newly commissioned work by Michael Gilbertson at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, in the high school auditorium, 140 S. Hamilton Road.

Orchestra director Kevin Dengel said Kessler launched the orchestra program in 1961, during the development of the band program.

"Gilbertson has created a truly reflective piece for our orchestra to remember our 53-year history: where we were, are and are going," Dengel said.

Under Kessler's leadership, Gahanna Lincoln had its first orchestra of 48 players, 32 of which were string players in 1965.

When he retired at the end of the 1985 school year, more than 300 students were participating in marching band, three concert bands, two jazz bands and a symphonic orchestra.

Kessler was head of the music department at Gahanna Lincoln High School for 32 years before his retirement.

The May 13 concert will feature about 250 students in sixth grade, seventh grade and the high school symphony orchestra.

During the event, students will honor Kessler with the world premiere of the work by Gilbertson, called Continuum.

Kessler also will have the opportunity to guest conduct the high school symphony orchestra on one of his favorite pieces: Nimrod (Hunter), from Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations.

The Gahanna orchestras have partnered with the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation to offer a guest conducting opportunity at the annual Gahanna Gala auction, and former superintendent Maurice Jones bid on and gifted it to Kessler.

In addition to the May 13 performance, a free concert in the high school auditorium will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 14.

"This concert will have a movie slant with Colors of the Wind from "Pocahontas" and music from "Pirates of the Caribbean," Dengel said.

About 120 students in the district's eighth grade, high school freshman and chamber orchestras will be featured.

During the week of May 19, members of the high school symphony orchestra will perform an interactive program for students at Jefferson, Royal Manor and Goshen Lane elementary schools, Dengel said.