The Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington needs a new director in the wake of Katie Kramer's departure, but one of her ideas will take center stage this month.

On Saturday, Sept. 14, and Sunday, Sept. 15, the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra will open its latest season with an with an educational performance of "Peter and the Wolf," a symphonic fairy tale intended to introduce children to an orchestra, in partnership with Hixon Dance.

"We have a history of doing educational programming," said Antoine Clark, director of the orchestra.

Clark said he founded the orchestra in 2013 with former MAC director Jon Cook, who retired at the end of 2018. Cook, who had served nine years as MAC director since it opened in 2009 at 777 Evening St., was replaced by Kramer.

Kramer, who started Jan. 2, left in August for a position at the Council of Development Finance Agencies. The CDFA is a national association in Columbus that helps state and local governments identify economic-development finance issues, according to its website, cdfa.net. ThisWeek was unable to reach Kramer for comment Sept. 9 and 10.

Clark said Kramer came up with the idea for the show.

Hixon Dance founder Sarah Hixon said the company was approached about the show last spring and started preparing in June.

She said the company, which has eight members and is the MAC's in-residency dance troupe, has never done a collaboration with the chamber orchestra, and she is excited about performing with such a large music ensemble of more than 30 musicians.

"Because of the space, the audience will be able to see the instruments," she said.

She also said Hixon Dance will have its own interpretation of "Peter and the Wolf," as the piece typically is accompanied by ballet.

"We've got a really modern dance approach," she said.

Hixon said the decision not to use ballet allows the dancers to be more expressive with their characters.

"I think it's going to be a really enjoyable performance," she said.

Meanwhile, Clark said, the personnel of the chamber orchestra can fluctuate, depending on the type of arrangements for a performance, but the core group has 35 members.

He said most of the members have high levels of education in music, but the orchestra also is a community group, with some college students involved.

Clark said he founded the group at the MAC six years ago because he thought Worthington should have its own chamber orchestra.

"As a conductor, I was interested in seeing the Worthington community support an orchestra like many of the other communities around Columbus," he said.

Clark said he had formed a group called the Apollo Winds, a group of woodwind instrument players who would perform at the MAC. He said he wrote a proposal to Cook in 2013 for the chamber orchestra, and thus the group was founded.

In terms of performances, Clark said, the orchestra typically plays three "masterworks" concerts per season. He said the group also has what are called "instructional performances," which might include shows that are intended to educate children and the audience about the orchestra or involve members going to schools to describe playing their musical instruments.

Clark said this season, the orchestra will include composers not often featured in classical music with a "masterworks" series called "Amplified: Do More Than Listen, Hear Our Voices."

The masterworks shows are scheduled at 3 p.m. Nov. 24, Feb. 9 and May 3, which all are Sundays.

"We want to highlight composers of minority status, including African Americans and women," he said. "This is a move in a new direction in terms of our programming."

During the masterworks series, Clark said, the orchestra will perform William Grant Still's "Afro-American Symphony," which was the first symphony by an African American composer to be performed by a major orchestra.

He said the group also will perform Florence B. Price's "Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major." Price was the first African American female composer to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra.

Finally, the orchestra will play two original works by Linda Kernohan and Vera Stanojevic, both Columbus-based female composers, Clark said.

"We have a great hope that women will become a mainstay on the concert stage like men have," he said.

As the shows go on, the MAC will search for Kramer's replacement, said MAC board of trustees member Jack Miner, who is in charge of the search for a new director.

Miner said the job has been posted, and the board plans to keep the posting open until the position is filled.

"It was an opportunity for us to launch a new search," he said.

Miner said the board has no timeline for the search, but members expect most resumes to come in within the next few weeks.

In the meantime, MAC program director Missy Donovan is serving as interim director.

Communications coordinator Mollie Shaw said tickets are available for "Peter and the Wolf." For tickets or more information about the MAC, go to mcconnellarts.org.

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