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WSO Gets Onstage Company

John Devlin, the new music director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, has promised a surprise at every concert in its 90th season, and he’s keeping that promise.

A tango demonstration and a light show provided the element of surprise during the season-opening Masterworks concert in October.

For the surprise at Thursday’s Masterworks performance, a select number of concert-goers were offered the opportunity to sit on the Capitol Theatre’s stage for an up-close view of the musicians in action. Participating audience members seemed to be pleased with the experience from that vantage point.

Among the participants were Wheeling artist Robert Villamagna and his wife, Wheeling Heritage staff member Chris Villamagna. Now we’re not putting any pressure on the artist, but I’m sure the public would enjoy a new mixed media work along the lines of “Bob Goes to the Symphony.”

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The WSO concert’s theme was “Hometown’s Finest” because two of the orchestra’s principal players performed as the featured soloists.

Robert Driscoll, the principal oboe player, chose a delightful, whimsical piece, “L’Horloge de Flore” (“The Flower Clock”). He explained that French composer Jean Francaix was inspred by different flowers blooming for specific hours depicted on a clock.

“The Flower Clock” is performed rarely. Devlin remarked that only one other member of the orchestra was familiar with the work.

Roi Mezare, the principal clarinet player, selected Mozart’s beloved Clarinet Concerto for his featured work. Mezare told the audience that he was introduced to this meaningful concerto at the age of 15.

Meanwhile, Driscoll’s biographical sketch in the program booklet contained an interesting tidbit: he holds a U.S. patent on a machine for making oboe reeds. The oboe player manufactures the reeds “at his own workshop in Advance, North Carolina, with the aid of new computerized milling technologies,” the biography stated.

Mezare resides in Pittsburgh, where he is active as an orchestral player and eductor.

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By the way, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra returns to its regular Friday dates for the remainder of its 2019-20 season schedule.

This past week’s performance was held on Thursday to avoid a conflict with the Fantasy in Lights parade in downtown Wheeling Friday night.

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The Ohio County Public Library’s interactive re-enactment of the famous 1938 radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” is drawing rave reviews from audiences.

For the local production, Orson Welles’ famous “War of the Worlds” was adapted to incorporate names of area places and people in the script of this science fiction classic.

The “War of the Worlds” production was staged at the library in June and returned by popular demand for a Lunch With Books program on Halloween.

Last week, a reprise of the interactive event was presented for 130 seventh-grade students from St. Clairsville Middle School who visited the library in Wheeling.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net

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