From the Philadelphia Enquirer, Dec. 3, 1964

At Museum of Art

Amerita Strings Open in Bow To Shakespeare

Of The Inquirer Staff

The Amerita String Orchestra made its nod to Shakespeare -- and to novely -- in opening its eight season Wednesday at Van Pelt Auditorium of the Museum of Art.

The 14 string players we joined by oboist John de Lancie and hornists Robert Fries and Ward Fearn for a program of the Italian Baroque and two works of this century written on Shakespearean bases.

Of chief interest was the Shakespearean Concerto for Oboe and Horns by David Amram, a Philadelphian whose music has accompanied 21 of Joseph Papp's Shakespearean productions in Central Park.

Amram's music was "Shakespearean" only in that the slow movement was based on a song he wrote for "Twelfth Night." That movement had real charm. Written for two violas and cello in front of the string texture, it is strongly lyric, deftly woven, impressive music.

The finale, while it posed problems for the performers, is a witty rondo in which the blues peep out through the texture and the composer included percussive effects obtained through tapping the violin bodies with the fingers.

The opening movement tested the hornists' skills in a movement that pitted the three solo instruments against the body of the orchestra.

To keep the work tight, the Amerita was guided by Armand Di Camillo -- a departure since the ensemble usually plays without a conductor.

Amram shared the applause with the performers on the stage. The group played two of William Walton's pieces from the film score to "Henry V." as further obeisance to the Bard. The performances of these well crafted but slight selections were colorful.

De Lancie returned for a second concerto, this one displaying his oboe more prominently, the Albinoni Concerto in B Flat. His playing was light, graceful and carefully proportioned to the orchestra. The finale, he played with gaiety and dash.

Fries and Feran were also featured in the concluding Sinfonia "Della Serenata" by Baldasaare Galuppi. Thelr roles here required delicate playing, not as soloists but in reinforcing the brisk melodic line. This work provided the orchestra with some of its finest moments in the dialogue between first ant second violin in the second movement.

Other works on the program were the Corelli Suite No. 5 and Antonio Lotti's "Air," which was played rather raggedly.

Changes have been made in the group. Frank Costanzo has become music director and violist Carlton Cooley provides the conductor's guidance from his stand.

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