Mercury Chamber Orchestra will perform its first in-person concert since the beginning of the pandemic at University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Bayou Theater on March 26 at 7:30 p.m.
The orchestra’s concertmaster, Jonathan Godfrey, said he’d chosen the works to be performed in “Bach, Holst and Grieg” because they were all significant pieces to him.
“Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations” were originally for the keyboard, and it’s really a masterpiece of compositional technique for the baroque period,” he said. “The reason I chose it for this performance is twofold: my grandmother was a pianist and organist, and she played this until she died. This is the last thing I remember her playing. The last time I saw her, I brought her a recording Mercury had made of these pieces arranged for string orchestra, and it was wonderful to share it with her.”
Godfrey’s selection of Edvard Grieg also runs along family lines. “I chose him because he’s Norwegian and I am as well, and having Norwegian music is always interesting,” he said. “The ‘Holberg Suite’ is a staple of string chamber orchestra literature, and I love performing it. It’s very accessible for the audience, and it’s full of fun, energetic, beautiful moments.”
The Grieg selection pairs well with Gustav Holst’s “St. Paul’s Suite,” Godfrey said. “Holst also wrote ‘The Planets,’ which includes a movement for each planet. It’s a huge orchestral work. This is just for strings.”
Godfrey explained that Holst had taken some popular tunes and mixed them in. “There’s a famous fiddle tune from ‘Greensleeves’ weaving in and out,” he said. “It’s another example of great chamber orchestra music.”
He said that whenever Mercury performed at UH-Clear Lake, the size of the ensemble depended on the repertoire. “This will be one of the larger ensembles together on stage,” he said. “There will be 14-15 players on stage—the largest number we can safely get.”
Seating will be arranged according to social distancing. Masks will be required.
For tickets to the event, visit www.uhcl.edu/bayou-theater/