Dutchess Philharmonic Head Praises Orchestra's Ability

Poughkeepsie New Yorker · 3 minute read

It often has been said that to gain its ultimate objective, any organization must first fulfill its immediate needs—and the Dutchess County Philharmonic society is no exception to this rule of existence.

According to James L. Whitehead, society president, the most pressing need of the group, which gave its first concert of the season Dec. 1 in the Poughkeepsie High school auditorium, is the need for large audiences, "to come and hear what we have." He said that "I want to appeal to every county resident not only to come to our concerts but to give patron donations so we may expand our work."

"We're beginning our fourth season now." the president said, "and many persons, I believe, don't realize what we have here in this orchestra."

He related that when he first came to Poughkeepsie, about a year ago. he went to the first concert in December, "out of a sense of duty, because I thought I should support the development of good music in a community." "I didn't think a community as small as this could produce a first rate orchestra," he said, "but I was surprised to find that this Dutchess County philharmonic played better than orchestras I have heard in much larger towns."

"I think this orchestra is extremely good. It plays good music and it plays it well," said Mr. Whitehead. "It is the sort of thing the whole community ought to support."

He said he regards the orchestra as a cultural venture that may come to mean a great deal in the future. "We take for granted our schools, parks and libraries," he said, and "I think the same should be done in regard to music."

In this year's first concert, he said, the orchestra played Beethoven's Third Symphony and Mozart's "Eine Kline Nachtmusik," about as "well as possible at such an age and experience." And there was an excellent soloist, Mrs. Alice Mitchell Smiley, he continued. "When an orchestra puts on as good programs as that was, I think everyone should know about it."

At present, the orchestra plays only three concerts a year, but the president revealed that "If Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County show us they want it, we have much more ambitious plans."

Among these plans are an increased number of concerts, paid rehearsals to improve the quality of the music and "in particular, a series of youth concerts, especially for grammar and high school pupils of the county and city."

"We can't afford these things now. But we would like to have special concerts, eventually, for young people. These are the things for which we need more financial support."

"Eventually, I don't see why we couldn't lead up to the formation of an art center here," Mr. Whitehead says. "Sometime we might have a larger, better auditorium, In which we might include an art gallery, a little theater, a conservatory of music. We might combine all the arts under one roof. But of course these things are very much in the future — very far away at present."

Seventy - three pieces, all local talent of varying degrees of training and education, make up this year's orchestra, directed for the fourth season by George Hagstrom. They are professionals. They will be heard in two more concerts this year, on Feb. 1 and April 20.

The, orchestra offers to young local musicians, according to its president, the chance to get a great deal of experience. "That goes for soloists, too," he said. "We try to use the best local players with the orchestra and among other things, we have a contest among the young people to determine who will be the soloist at the final concert."

This year's soloist will be Donald Cantwell, clarinetist, Poughkeepsie High school pupil, who will play with the orchestra April 20.

The choirs are made up of 15 first violins, 13 second violins, eight violas, 10 cellos, six basses, two oboes, three flutes, three clarinets, two bassoons, four French horns, two trumpets, two trombones, a bass trombone, a tuba and tympani.