These organizations continue Ogden’s rich legacy of performance by keeping it fresh
By CAMILLE WASHINGTON
Contemporary classical music probably sounds like an oxymoron to most people. How can an art form that arguably peaked hundreds of years ago be made fresh in our digital age? Local organizations like NEXT Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra Ogden, and Onstage Ogden, champion the blend of traditional orchestral and chamber music with new compositions and fresh takes on old masters.
The decidedly unstuffy and completely approachable concerts by NEXT Ensemble are often performed in unexpected places: a nature preserve, an art gallery, a restaurant basement. Audiences are encouraged to come as they are, with no pretense about expertise or uptight dress code, to let the classical music “connect people through sound,” as their mission explains. This also includes casual interludes during performances by ensemble members or guests that offer historical tidbits or suggested ways of listening to enhance the experience.
Chamber Orchestra Ogden features over fifty professional and semi-professional musicians who are local to the area. It is a chamber orchestra, not a full symphony, due to its slightly smaller scale. Their offerings are eclectic, ranging from Brahms and Bizet to Pops concerts featuring music from blockbusters like Star Wars, and original compositions like Crossroads Ogden by bluegrass star Jens Kruger. Importantly, tickets are less expensive than a movie ticket. Part of Chamber Orchestra Ogden’s mission is to make cost less of a barrier to enjoying classical music.
For 70 years, Onstage Ogden, formerly Ogden Symphony Ballet Association, has brought the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, and other renowned national and international touring musicians and groups to town. At The Monarch this March and April, they will host their new Downtown Series. It features GRAMMY award-winning ensembles Third Coast Percussion and Eighth Blackbird, and others that push the boundaries of traditional classical music. As one of the oldest arts organizations in Utah, Onstage Ogden recognizes the need to stay contemporary and feature the kind of performance that pushes the boundaries of classical music. Ogden has always been an arts city. Even though the old Opera House is long gone, and tastes have changed dramatically over the years, classical performance is just as relevant here as anywhere.