Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra aims to stop time in 25th year

Yaniv Attar makes his debut this season as the music director of The Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra.
Yaniv Attar makes his debut this season as the music director of The Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra. Photo provided

The Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra will kick off its 25th season on Oct. 18 at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Port Matilda. This silver anniversary is certainly a special one and the PCO will be both celebrating its storied tenure and embarking on a new era with Yaniv Attar making his debut as music director.

“There is a great diversity in our programs this year,” Attar said. “We have world-class soloists coming to State College to collaborate with us and we are thrilled that we’ll be able to share the stage with them. There is going to be a lot happening with the PCO this season.”

Fresh off a successful six-month fundraising campaign, the PCO gets stronger and reaches more ears with each passing year. With more than a quarter of a century worth of experience performing throughout our region, the orchestra now comfortably finds itself embarking on a new era with Attar residing on the rostrum.

“For the first 25 years we were very capably led by Maestro Douglas Meyer, who established a rich tradition of fine music-making with the orchestra,” said James Lyon, the PCO’s concertmaster and a professor of music in violin at Penn State. “Now, we have the very talented conductor Yanav Attar at the helm, bringing his personal spark and charisma to the podium. It’s a very exciting time to be a classical music buff in Centre County.”

Being the only professional orchestra in central Pennsylvania comes with a large responsibility. PCO takes pride in securing its high-caliber roster of musicians, soloists and conductors.

“I truly believe that every great community deserves a great orchestra,” Attar said. “There is no greater way to experience beautiful music than through a live performance. This is where the sound is born and this is where it lives.”

“We are a chamber orchestra, meaning that we are smaller and more intimate. We don’t typically play the larger and more epic symphonies,” said Susan Kroeker, the orchestra’s executive director. “We play smaller works specifically written for smaller groups. Our music is much more intimate and delicate and more transparent. Our musicians have to be really, really good and they can’t hide behind a mountain of other performers.”

“Live music can never be replaced by a CD, because the excitement of attending a concert in person is unparalleled,” Lyon said. “PCO strives to perform at the highest musical and technical standards for our loyal and devoted audience.”

The season gets underway with a concert honoring the effortlessly prodigious Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Arguably the most important figure in classical music, it is fitting that the PCO will be honoring with “A Mozart Celebration.” Even those who claim to be unfamiliar with the genre will almost instantly recognize Mozart’s work. He is a figure who transcends generations and whose mythology only adds to his brilliance as a musician.

“Mozart is such a delightful composer to listen to,” Kroeker said. “His music is more accessible and is usually much easier to listen to when compared to other composers. A lot of people know his music and they generally like it. People are attracted to Mozart because he is so highly regarded. His music is really perfect for us to perform.”

With a season that runs through April, the material being performed by the PCO in its 25th season is as vibrant and varying as ever. Covering the spectrum of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Handel, the orchestra is anxious to kick off its 25th season. While some of the faces may have changed, the PCO will still perform the high-quality classical music that has entertained Centre County since 1990.

“When we perform, our aim is nothing other than to make time stop,” Lyon said. “I am serious — if we do our job right, you will not be conscious of your to-do list or your troubles. And you certainly won’t be looking at your watch. A good concert is a bit like a ride in a time machine — let us take you back to 18th century Austria!”

“Sunday’s show is going to be a wonderful concert, with real celebratory feel to it,” Attar said. “The PCO is a real jewel here in State College, and we strive to share great music with our community.”