Roger Wiesmeyer’s multi-faceted role in the Nashville classical music scene has long been a important presence in our community. Born in Nashville, Roger grew up here and attended Hillsboro High School and Blair School of Music before going away to school at Curtis Institute and on to positions in the Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Honolulu symphonies. He returned to Nashville in 2001 to become the Nashville Symphony’s english horn player. In addition to his work as an oboist and english horn player, Roger is an accomplished pianist, and he has presented annual concerts to celebrate Mozart’s birthday every year since 2003.
This month Roger is launching a new project – and gift – to Music City: the Nashville Concerto Orchestra.
I recently sat down with Roger to talk about the project, and this is what he told me:
“We’re the Nashville Concerto Orchestra, an “ad-hoc” group of professionals and amateurs, teachers and students from Middle Tennessee who gather quarterly to explore the vast concerto repertoire.”
The ensemble will perform their first concert at the end of the month:
Nashville Concerto Orchestra
Saturday, June 25 at noon
Edgehill United Methodist Church
donations will be accepted
Johann Sebastian Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor BWV 1041
~with Zach Casebolt, violin, conducted by Matthew Phelps
“Except for a voluntary love offering for the venue, no money will exchange hands.” said Roger. “The musicians donate their time for a concert and one rehearsal immediately beforehand. When a musician accrues four concerts with the NCO, he or she earns the right to either solo with, conduct, or have the orchestra perform a piece they wrote.
“The wealth of talent in the orchestral world is just staggering. From the time we are very young, most of us cut our teeth and sharpen our skills on this repertoire, yet because of the way orchestras work, usually only principal players, and then only infrequently, get to perform concerti with orchestra. To hear one of the stars of our time play with the Nashville Symphony or other great orchestra is a thrill. To hear your neighbor, or deacon, or teacher, or barrister play might be even more special.
“First, you know you have a relationship with this person. Second, this person isn’t going to be playing this piece six more times this year and hasn’t just been touring with it. This concert is “it”. Miss it and it’s gone.”
Roger Wiesmeyer, who is one of the most generous and thoughtful artists I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with, came to me with an idea to provide local musicians an opportunity to play concertos. I immediately loved the idea. We have such a wealth of talent in this town, and they often do not get chances to shine as solo artists. This project will give Nashville a chance to hear some of our best musicians outside of the symphony where they play with 100 of their closest friends. I was extremely flattered to be asked by Roger to lead two of the concertos and I’m extremely honored to get to work with these great artists and make magnificent music.
~ Matthew Phelps
“Nashville has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years.” said Roger. “In addition to the Nashville Symphony and the String Machine, there are now the Nashville Philharmonic, Parthenon Chamber Orchestra, Trevecca Symphony Orchestra, and amazing teachers at local universities who have equally amazing students.
“This model worked wonderfully in the form of the San Francisco Concerto Orchestra founded by pianist/composer Seth Montfort. I believe we have a critical mass of talent to make this a reality here in Music City.”
The moment I arrived on earth I knew that music was a language greater than that of our dear species. Bach is the great equalizer of that language. Bach’s music is not about the performer, it is not about the orchestra, it is only about the sound that has traversed from the heavens to communicate with us as humans. This is why I play Bach.
~ Zach Casebolt