By Ethan Sadoian

October 20th and 21st sees the commencement of another season of music-making in Connecticut by the CT Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra.

Jim Forgey, the Virtuosi’s principal clarinetist, will be the featured soloist for the performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major at these concerts. Forgey’s association with the Orchestra goes back off-and-on to the Virtuosi’s earliest years: “I was freelancing in the area and teaching, and I actually played with the Orchestra for a few concerts when they first got started. But then, for whatever reason, because the Orchestra was just starting out, and I was just starting out in CT, we wound up drifting apart for a while.” But four years ago, Forgey received a call to perform in the Virtuosi and CT Lyric Opera’s production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, and Forgey has been with the Orchestra ever since. “It’s one of those things—you start out, you drift apart, and then you get back together. I think it’s kind of cool!”

Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto is one of the most famous in the relatively limited clarinet concerto repertoire. Forgey is very familiar with it of course, and has performed it accompanied by piano for recitals and auditions, but he is excited to perform it with orchestra for the first time at these concerts. “It’s such a high-quality piece; it’s been around so long and has really withstood the test of time. There’s a limited number of [clarinet] concerti, so it’s really rare for [clarinetists] to have a great, great concerto. It’s nice to have Mozart in the mix!”

On the other half of the concert program, the dense textures and chromaticism, and the Romantic-era emotional expression of Arnold Schoenberg’s “Verklärte Nacht” provide a sharp contrast to the Classical elegance and clarity of Mozart’s Concerto. But beneath the surface, Schoenberg represents a reinvention, or ‘reincarnation,’ of the musical development of Mozart’s time. Mozart is the culmination of the Classical style within the ‘First Viennese School’ of music composition, along with his predecessor Haydn and his successor Beethoven, with Beethoven also driving the transition into the Romantic era. Schoenberg’s early music, including Verklärte Nacht, represents the culmination of the Romantic style. Schoenberg then led the transition into the 20th century, along with his pupils Alban Berg and Anton Webern; together, the three Austrian composers propagated the ‘Second Viennese School.’

“The name ‘Reincarnations’ to me implies change, the reincarnation of the style of the musical idea, going from Mozart to Schoenberg. It’s a reinvention of the Classical” says Virtuosi artistic director Adrian Sylveen. And this theme will be woven throughout the programs of this concert season, which Sylveen has appropriately named ‘Reincarnations.’ “Each concert this year will have something to do with that idea … focusing on some aspect of the development, the reincarnation, of the musical idea.”

Included in this season are two operas, Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Verdi’s Aida, presented in collaboration with the CT Lyric Opera. Another collaboration will be with the University Singers of Central Connecticut State University, on a concert of choral and vocal music in March. The Virtuosi will continue their tradition of presenting a Polish Christmas concert in December. The reincarnation of French music will be exhibited in a concert in February, and the season will culminate with a reincarnation of American music, in a concert featuring music of Charles Ives and Leonard Bernstein. But despite this celebration of change throughout the season, there is one aspect of the Virtuosi that will remain the same: the commitment to delighting audiences from the community here in CT with music and concert experiences of the highest quality.