Cordancia’s new Artistic Director Evan Meccarello takes the podium 

click to enlarge Conductor Evan Meccarello makes his debut as artistic director of the chamber orchestra Cordancia with the program "Florence Price and the Machine." - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE HOCHSTEIN SCHOOL
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE HOCHSTEIN SCHOOL
  • Conductor Evan Meccarello makes his debut as artistic director of the chamber orchestra Cordancia with the program "Florence Price and the Machine."
The Rochester chamber orchestra Cordancia is entering a new era, with a new conductor at the creative helm.

On April 29 and 30, Evan Meccarello is scheduled to lead his first program as Cordancia’s conductor and artistic director, with a concert titled “Florence Price and the Machine.” Three of the four works to be performed were written by composers of color, and two of the pieces were written by living composers. While this kind of inclusive programming is becoming more of the rule than the exception, it is still rare to see works from the classical canon — written almost exclusively by white composers who died long ago — not be the focus.

Meccarello said his plan for Cordancia and its concert programs is to continue realizing the vision of the orchestra’s founders, Pia Liptak and Kathleen Suher, who started the orchestra in 2009.

“I really have the goal of continuing their tremendous work of bringing rarely played music, both from far into the past and from contemporary living composers,” Meccarello said. “So when approaching Cordancia, it was such a great fit for me because I believe in their mission of doing interesting, unusual programs that you cannot hear other places in Rochester.”

As the title “Florence Price and the Machine” suggests, the program looks at musical compositions as artistic machines. But it’s also about how the machine of culture affects artists, particularly Black artists.

Composer Florence Price’s monumental Symphony No. 1 was the first piece by a Black woman to be performed by a major American orchestra, and has seen a recent resurgence in its inclusion in orchestral programs. Meccarello called “Fast BLACK Dance Machine,” a piece by Haitian American composer Daniel Bernard Roumain to be performed by Cordancia, “a statement about the machine of Black music, and specifically Black dance music in America, and its place belonging in the concert hall.”

“Because machines are made by people, they can be changed by people,” Meccarello said. ”Systems can be changed by people because they're created by people. And I'm really encouraged by the changes that I've seen in the artistic world, and in the world of music recently.”

Cordancia performs “Florence Price and the Machine” at 7 p.m. on April 29 at Greece Baptist Church, and at 3 p.m. on April 30 at Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word. General admission is $20; students and seniors are $15. Visit cordancia.org for more information.

Daniel J. Kushner is an arts writer at CITY. He can be reached at [email protected].
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