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December News letter 2017

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1st Quarter Newsletter 2017-2018 Concert Season


1st Quarter /2017-2018 Concert Season

Message from the Conductor

Dear Friend of the GSO:

It is my great pleasure to invite you to join us for the GSO’s incredible 2017/18 Concert Season.

We begin the season with celebration: the Brahms Academic Festival Overture; cool electronic dance rhythms and sounds in Mason Bates’ brilliant B-Sides; and of course the famous opening notes of Beethoven’s monumental Fifth Symphony. There’s something for everyone on this program, and what’s more, you have two chances to catch it. The GSO performs October 28th at Perry High School at 7:00pm, and again on October 29th at Genesee Community College, 4:00pm. So come out to see us one night….or both! You won’t be disappointed!

The Brahms Academic Festival Overture is an amazing piece he composed after receiving an honorary doctorate. Brahms originally wrote a letter thanking the University for the honor, but was informed he was expected he compose a piece of music instead of a letter. The piece is filled with grandeur – and lots of humor – as it contains hymns as well as student drinking songs.

Next on the program is the fantastic B-Sides for Orchestra and Electronica by American composer Mason Bates. Bates was commissioned to write this piece for the San Francisco Symphony. It’s filled with interesting and colorful moments in the orchestra, complemented by unique electronic sounds including funky quasi-techno-beats and rhythms, and audio clips from the first American space walk (Gemini IV). This is a fascinating experience both for the orchestra and the listener.

For Sunday’s concert, the GSO’s 2017 Young Artist Competition Winner, Mia Fasanello, will perform the first movement of

Vaughn Williams’ stunning Oboe Concerto.

We conclude both concerts with perhaps the most iconic piece in the classical music repertory, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor. We all know the famous four note motif which opens the piece, and which he uses obsessively not just in the first movement but in the whole piece. The symphony goes from dark to light, starting with what some have called “fate knocking on the door” to liberation and freedom. Beethoven even used a French Revolution tune in the last movement. It is a symphony of “firsts:” the first symphony to use piccolo, trombones and contrabassoon. The first symphony to ever have a movement run into the next movement without a pause. From its premiere in 1808, the “Beethoven 5” has continued to amaze musicians and audiences alike. It’s huge undertaking for any orchestra and we are excited to bring it to you. This will be a spectacular concert and we hope to see you there when we unleash Beethoven’s 5th.

Shade Zajac

 Notes from the Co-Presidents

The GSO Board of Directors cordially invites you to join GSO musicians to celebrate opening the GSO’s 71st Concert Season, with not one but two spectacular concerts featuring FESTIVALS, TECHNO, and FATE!

Saturday Oct. 28 at 7:00pm the GSO performs at Perry High School, and Sunday Oct. 29, 4:00pm at Genesee Community College. The Perry concert marks a welcome GSO return to Wyoming County, sponsored by and in partnership with ACWC, the Arts Council for Wyoming Co. On Sunday the GSO performs the same program at GCC, with one addition. And what a program: Brahms, Bates and Beethoven! See Shade Zajac’s notes elsewhere in this Newsletter.

Sunday’s program at the GCC Stuart Steiner Theater adds the GSO’s 2017 Young Artist Competition winner, Oboist Mia Fasenello from Clarence NY. Mia has an extensive background with many honors and awards for her talented oboe artistry. At each GSO concert the GSO again offers a raffle opportunity, in support of the orchestra. This year’s prize is a $1000 gift certificate from First Choice Travel of Batavia. Here’s a chance to win $1000 toward a trip of a lifetime.

Your GSO’s prolifi Music Director & Conductor, Shade Zajac, will mesmerize you with his animated conducting style. Shade always tells musicians and the audience to listen to the music with open minds. At the October GSO concerts you will experience many different styles of music – guaranteed!

Please join us Sat., Oct. 28th at Perry High School, or Sunday Oct. 29th at GCC. Let music enlighten your mind and brighten your day!

Musically yours,

Roxie Choate and Paul Saskowski


 Fall Program

Festivals, Techno, and Fate!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Perry High School Auditorium 7:00 PM

Sunday, October 29, 2017 Genesee Community College 4:00 PM

Sunday only

Meet the Orchestra – 3:00 p.m.

Guest soloist (Sunday only): Mia Fasanello, Oboe

2017 Young Artist Competition Winner

Concerto for Oboe and Strings | Vaughan Williams, Mia Fasanello, Oboe

Symphony no. 5 in C Minor | Beethoven

Academic Festival Overture | Brahms

The B-Sides, Five Pieces for Orchestra and Electronica | Bates

Oboe Soloist is Winner of GSO 2017   Young Artist Competition         

Mia Fasanello, Oboe, 17 year old oboist Mia Fasanello is a Senior at Clarence High School.

She has been playing oboe for seven years, and studies with Henry Ward, Principal Oboist of the Buffalo  Philharmonic and Anna Mattix, English Horn of the BPO. She has also played the piano for nine years, and currently studies with Susan Schuman. Composing and conducting are her passions as well.

Mia is the principal oboist of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra and the Clarence High School Wind Ensemble. Mia won a spot in the 2017 NYSSMA All-State Symphony Orchestra, and in 2016 was a member of the All-State Symphonic Band. She has also been invited to sub with SUNY Geneseo Symphony Orchestra.

Mia was the principal oboist of the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Interlochen Center for the Arts for the summer of 2017. She was a finalist in the prestigious Interlochen Concerto Competition. Mia attended the Interlochen Advanced Oboe Institute in 2016, and Luzerne Music Center in 2015. At Luzerne, Mia was the principal oboist of the High School Division Orchestra and the recipient of the Presidential Merit Scholarship, awarded by Elizabeth Pitcairn     .

Mia was the winner of the Genesee Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Concerto Competition in 2017. She is also the recipient of the Eastman School of Music award for her musical achievements during high school.

Mia is pursuing a career as a Professional Oboist.

Meet the Orchestra

GSO Features Meet the Orchestra at October Rehearsal and Concert

Do you have a child, a grandchild, a student, a neighbor kid… who might be curious about how a symphony orchestra works and sounds – and looks, from the musicians’ side?

Sign your child up for Meet the Orchestra today! Students in grades 3-8 have the opportunity to come to the GSO October 27th dress rehearsal at GCC, and sit next to the musician of their choice. Then they get a free ticket to our October 29th concert. Interested or have questions? Email today!

GSO Performs at GCC’s New  Richard C. Call Event Center

September 23, 2017 marked the first scheduled public event at Genesee Community College’s new 16000 square foot Event Center, named for a local agriculture and community leader, the late Richard C. Call, who was also a great friend of the College. The concert was also a keystone event for GCC’s 50th anniversary, and 2017 Homecoming Weekend.

On hand in full force was none other than our own Genesee Symphony Orchestra, which performed a rousing and varied concert for about 250-300 attendees. The concert was free and open to the public.

After welcoming remarks by GCC President Dr. Jim Sunser, GSO maestro Shade Zajac led the GSO through favorites by Saint-Saens, a Porgy & Bess medley, Samuel Barber’s melodic Adagio for Strings, John Adams minimalist but challenging Lollapalooza!, and a spectacular finish with Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.

For photos, see b-owens/gcc-celebrates-50th-anniversary-today-with- free-concert-by-gso/405228

Upcoming Concerts

Holiday Celebration!

Sunday,  December 10, 2017           4:00pm

St. Mary’s RC Church, Resurrection Parish, Batavia

Rimsky-Korsakov Dance of the Tumblers

Canadian Brass Christmas

Vaughn Williams Fantasia on the Theme by Thomas Tallis

Blake The Snowman

Anderson Sleigh Ride & Christmas Festival

An Evening with David Kim

Sunday, March 11, 2018

4:00pm Elba Central School Auditorium

Featuring David Kim

Concertmaster, Philadelphia Orchestra

Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty: Polonaise

Tchaikovsky Concerto for Violin & Orchestra in D, David Kim, Violin

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 in F-minor

Romantic Masterpieces

Sunday, May 6, 2018

4:00pm Elba Central School Auditorium Featuring Mimi Hwang, cello

Works TBA featuring 2018 GSO String Workshop participants

Wagner Siegfried’s Death & Funeral March

Elgar Concerto for Cello & Orchestra in E-minor, Mimi Hwang, Cello

Howard Hanson Symphony No. 2 “Romantic”

Ask the Maestro – October 2017

Q: Why does the conductor ask individual musicians to stand at the end of a piece?

A: In a long piece there are sometimes solos for individual members of the orchestra such as the oboe, trumpet or principal cellist. These solos are often difficult and very scary to perform, so at the end of the piece, the conductor asks each soloist to stand and be recognized for a job well done. The conductor may also ask the whole section to stand up for applause. (It’s also an opportunity for you to clap and cheer for your favorite instrument or section!)


Questions about how an orchestra works? Contact Bob Knipe,, and we’ll answer you in the next GSO Newsletter.


GSO Raffle 2018 Features Gift Certificate from First Choice Travel

The annual GSO raffle is a major fundraiser for the orchestra, popular with concertgoers and supporters as well. The 2017 raffle featured a weekend at Geneva-on- the-Lake in Geneva, NY.

This year we are working with First Choice Travel, well known for putting together some wonderful tour packages. Rather than offer a specific package, we offer a $1000 First Choice Travel Gift Certificate as a raffle prize, good for any tour or other service First Choice provides. Tickets are $10 each or 3 for $15, available at any GSO concert or from any Board member. The

$1000 gift certificate will be raffled at our May 6, 2018 concert. The more you buy, the better your chances of winning the vacation of a lifetime, and the more you support your GSO!


You can support your GSO by purchasingTOPS gift cards! Look for our TOPS Cards representative at the ticket table on concert dates. Cash or check (made payable to GSO) can be accepted for your purchase. For more information,contact JoanneTumminello at:

Adopt-a-Chair is an exciting program which affords the participant a first-hand experience with the orchestra.“Adopt” a musician of the orchestra. Choose your favorite instrument and sit in that section during the dress rehearsal, for a “behind the scenes” experience in which you will see and hear an orchestra at work. Contact Helen Parkins at to arrange your Adopt-a-Chair experience.



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Meet The Orchestra Fall 2017

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October 28 & 29, 2017 fall Concert

Make plans to attend one of these upcoming concerts. A little something for everyone.

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10th Annual GSO Young Artist Competition Announced

The GSO is excited to announce its tenth Young Artist Competition! The competition will be held on April 3, 2017 at the First Presbyterian Church in Batavia.

Information and applications are being sent to all music educators and private music teachers in Genesee and surrounding counties. Applications must be received by March 20, 2017. All instrumental and vocal students in grades 8 through 11 who can perform a level V or VI NYSSMA solo are welcome to audition. A panel of music educators and GSO maestro Shade Zajac will judge the competition this year.yac1

Each participant will be awarded a certificate of achievement and the winner will be featured as the guest soloist with the orchestra for a 2017-18 season concert.

Contact music educators or private teachers for information and application forms or email Georgia Childs at


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2017 Raffle – Geneva on the Lake!


Support your GSO and win a stay at the luxurious Geneva on the Lake Wine Country Villa and Resort in Geneva, NY, in the lovely Finger Lakes region! This famous resort has kindly donated a voucher, as they did in 2013, to the GSO to be a raffled off at our May 7, 2017 concert.

The voucher includes:
-one night’s accommodation for two at Geneva on the Lake, any Sunday-Thursday evening through June 14, 2018 (certain date restrictions apply)
-a $50 voucher toward a candlelight dinner for two
-a bottle of Finger Lakes wine and flowers in your suite
-continental breakfast

Tickets may be purchased from any GSO Board member or musician or at any GSO concert.
Tickets are $5 each or 3/$10. Winner must be 21 or older.

The 2013 winners of this wonderful GSO raffle prize are still raving about what a great getaway it was, and will be buying more tickets this year. Join them in supporting your Genesee Symphony Orchestra!

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A Letter to the Board

Dear Roxie and GSO Board,
It doesn’t seem possible it has been 70 years since we started the orchestra!  I received the GSO pamphlet yesterday and read every word. The season concerts sound wonderful! I do so wish I could be there to hear them. When you are at a rehearsal please say “Hi!” for me to the orchestra, especially members who still remember me.
I remember playing Scheherazade many, many years ago in the 1st violin section, long before taking up the viola. Carl Frank played the solo violin part at the time. It is such a great number and the audience will love it.
I just wanted to let you know how pleased I am with the GSO’s leadership and devotion. After having 48 wonderful years of joy playing in the orchestra, I feel blessed, as there is no other experience like it.                                                                                            Sincerely,
Helen Grapka                                                                                                                 GSO Charter Member

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“Maestro and Mozart”

Members of the Asteria Quartet. From left - Kiram Rajamani, Leah McCarthy, Shade Zajac, and Evie Boughton Photo by Howard Owens

Members of the Asteria Quartet. From left – Kiram Rajamani, Leah McCarthy, Shade Zajac, and Evie Boughton
Photo by Howard Owens

About 20 lucky listeners were treated to string quartet offerings by Mozart, Shostakovich and the GSO’s new conductor with the Asteria Quartet – three of whom are now playing with the GSO!

The Saturday Sept. 10 event was hosted by Richard Mistretta at his Vinyl Record Revival store (220 East Main St., Batavia). Wine tastings were provided by Christine Crocker of YNGoddess, and light snacks by GSO Board members.

Before and between numbers, the appreciative audience got to ask questions about the music, about the quartet, and got an “insiders’ glimpse” of how a string quartet actually works. All four musicians had no trouble enlightening and amusing us, as well as showcasing great talent and some very interesting music! Shade’s composition “Willard” represents a nocturnal visit to an abandoned mental hospital, and sounded like you might imagine! OK, so maybe we’ll have to stage a future performance at Rolling Hills Asylum….

~ Bob Knipe

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From the GSO Historian

It began in 1947. A small group of dedicated individuals had the idea of starting a small community-oriented orchestra. They named it The Batavia Civic Orchestra. It was a success, growing and changing over the years, all the while maintaining its core mission: to bring excellent music and entertainment to the Genesee Region. In 1958, it became the Genesee Symphony Orchestra and as the old saying goes, “the rest is history.”

Now in our 70th season, the Genesee Symphony Orchestra takes another step forward and is proud to welcome to the podium our newest conductor, S. Shade Zajac. The tradition of playing beautiful music with talented musicians and guest artists continues. And who knows, maybe something new thrown in as well to delight and entertain and maybe even educate audiences in the upcoming season.

So come one, come all! It’s a new season and a new era. Let the music begin.

Want to learn more about the Genesee Symphony Orchestra and its history? Visit the memory books in the reference section of the Richmond Memorial Library or the permanent display at the Holland Land Office Museum.

~Joanne Tumminello, GSO Historian

S. Shade Zajac Named New Music Director

S. Shade Zajac named Music Director of the Genesee Symphony Orchestra

S. Shade Zajac Photo by Howard Owens

S. Shade Zajac                Photo by Howard Owens

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce that conductor S. Shade Zajac will become the next Music Director of the GSO, beginning with the 2016-17 season.

As the Genesee Symphony Orchestra’s fourteenth Music Director, Mr. Zajac, currently a freelance conductor, composer and cellist, will succeed Raeffele Ponti, whose tenure began in 1997 and ended with the 2014-15 season.

Find interviews with Mr. Zajac at The Batavian,, and the Daily News,