American Classical Orchestra

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The American Classical Orchestra is "devoted to preserving and performing the repertoire of 17th- to 19th-century composers, playing the works on original or reproduced period instruments. The musicians use historic performance practice techniques and pass these skills down to future generations through concert performances and educational programs." In recognition of this work, the ACO has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts.[1]

Originally founded in 1985 by music director Thomas Crawford as the Orchestra of the Old Fairfield (CT) Academy, in 1999 the orchestra’s name was changed to American Classical Orchestra to better reflect its mission. In describing the orchestra's transition, a New York Times journalist wrote: “The musicians are trained in historically precise techniques, and they render these on original or replicated instruments appropriate to the period of music they are playing. All the stringed instruments are made of wood and use natural gut strings, wood is the rule for the wind instruments, and the brass are valveless.”[2]

Now based in the New York metropolitan region, the orchestra has garnered both critical and popular recognition through its concert appearances, including those on the Lincoln Center Great Performers Series and at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it performed a musical program in collaboration with an exhibition entitled “Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861.”[3]

The American Classical Orchestra is also noted for reviving neglected musical works, including those that “pique interest because of their relevance to an evolving genre and their influence on other composers." [4]

Among the works recorded by the ACO are the complete wind concerti by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which feature its principal players as soloists,[3] and Mozart’s Symphony No. 14, K144 and Piano Concerti K. 107, Volume II, with fortepianist Malcolm Bilson.[5]

In addition to Mr. Bilson, among the instrumental soloists who have collaborated with the American Classical Orchestra are fortepianist Robert Levin, violinist Stephanie Chase, flutist Sandra Miller, violist David Miller, hornist R. J. Kelley, and oboist Marc Shachman.[3] In September 2009, Vladimir Feltsman performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 as fortepiano soloist with the orchestra in a concert presented at Lincoln Center.[6]


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