New Philharmonia Columbia carries on 9th Street Philharmonic tradition

Friday, November 4, 2011 | 7:38 p.m. CDT; updated 9:39 p.m. CDT, Saturday, November 5, 2011

COLUMBIA­­ — The goal of the new Philharmonia Columbia is to bring together the city's finest musicians to perform concerts starting in January 2012, according to its founder, Alex Blanton. 

The 9th Street Philharmonic Orchestra, which closed after its owner Alex Innecco moved to Brazil in August, inspired Blanton to create Philharmonia. Blanton, a trumpet player and composer who had long worked with Innecco, saw a need for a new orchestral group to fill the void.

"9th Street was a really fantastic orchestra," Blanton said. "We want to do some of the things that that orchestra did as far as having a variety of programs. Instead of having a dedicated classical program, we'd like to mix it up and have an overarching theme with the concerts we do."

Blanton said that in addition to performing classical repertoire, Philharmonia will incorporate contemporary pieces into every concert.

The musicians will be recruited and paid for performances. Depending on what music is on the program, about 40 players will be selected.

Philharmonia Columbia is the newest addition to a local classical music scene that includes the Columbia Civic Orchestra, the MU School of Music, the Columbia Chorale, the Odyssey Chamber Music Series and, in the summer, the Missouri Symphony Orchestra.

Blanton said one difference between Philharmonia Columbia and the civic orchestra is that the latter is an all-inclusive community group for players of varying skills. He hopes Philharmonia will attract top performers in the area.

"We want to be a place … the community can come and hear music played at the highest quality," Blanton said.

As conductor and artistic director of Philharmonia Columbia, Blanton helps coordinate venues, programming and funding to ensure the group's success. Anju Chandy and Mike White assist Blanton with publicity, personnel management and administration.

White, who will play flute in the ensemble, said he has high expectations for Philharmonia.

“I look forward to the establishment of a resident professional orchestra and expect that Philharmonia will be that orchestra," he said.

Philharmonia is receiving funding online through its affiliation with Fractured Atlas, which helps artists and arts organizations raise money from charitable sources. Donations can be made through the orchestra's profile on Fractured Atlas’s website. The group will also use social media to promote its concerts.

Next year, Philharmonia Columbia will perform three preseason concerts, the first of which will have an academic theme.

The first two performances will take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 21 and Feb. 18 in Launer Auditorium at Columbia College. The location for a May 5 concert has yet to be determined. The second and third concerts will feature guest conductors Kirk Trevor and Rachel Grubb, respectively.

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