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The Wreckers

The two young ladies who make up modern-country duo the Wreckers are Michelle Branch (pictured), already a familiar name (and face) from the Top 40 charts, and Jessica Harp, a singer- songwriter from Kansas City who was struggling to break into the national music scene at around the same time Branch was getting hugely popular. The two knew of each other because people kept telling them they sounded like the other, and when they eventually met, Branch invited Harp to join her on tour. They inevitably started collaborating musically, and as a result, we now have the Wreckers.

Riding high on the success of their debut on Maverick Records, Stand Still Look Pretty, and their single “Leave the Pieces,” the Wreckers are on tour throughout the fall in support of the album—check them out when they hit Northern Lights tomorrow. Liz Carlisle will open the show.

The Wreckers will perform at Northern Lights (1208 Route 146, Clifton Park) tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 29) at 7 PM. Tickets for the show are $25. For more information, call the club at 371-0012.

 Soul Kitchen 10th Anniversary

Soul Kitchen, the collective of local poets and performers who meet monthly to perform for the group and to share their voices and art and words, will mark their 10-year anniversary with a performance tomorrow night at the WAMC Performing Arts Center.

According to the oh-so-brief description on the WAMC Web site, “The evening includes performances by some of the hottest poets and performers that have blessed the mic at Soul Kitchen over the last ten years. So come dine on deep fried culture, listen to collard green lyrics and feast on hearty sides of knowledge.” We say, go experience it for yourself.

The Soul Kitchen Productions 10th Anniversary celebration will take place at the WAMC Performing Arts Studio (339 Central Ave., Albany) tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 29) at 8 PM. Tickets are $25. For more information, call 465-5233, ext. 4.

Amadeus Chamber Orchestra

Twenty years ago (almost to the day), pianist Findlay Cockrell celebrated a pair of round-number birthdays—Mozart’s and his own—with a three-concerto concert that prompted critic Scott Cantrell to celebrate the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra’s “auspicious debut,” adding the hope “that this (concert) would be the first of many to come.”

Although it’s taken two decades, those follow-up concerts take place this weekend.

It’s Mozart’s 250th, so Cockrell is dusting off the program he presented way back then, but with a twist. This edition of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra comprises 30 students, and students also will take turns soloing in one of the works.

“I’ve been playing a lot of chamber music with young people lately,” says Cockrell, “and I’m very impressed by the ability I’m seeing. So that got me to thinking: The Amadeus Chamber Orchestra needs to come back, but it would be much more expensive. Working with younger players, I can pay them an honorarium that’s less than the New York City players would get, while giving them that much more concert exposure.”

As before, Cockrell also conducts the orchestra. The first time around, he was indulging his love of Mozart’s music; this time, he has the added mission of promoting the student players. Many of them also perform with the Empire State Youth Orchestra, but these concerts offer the challenge of what’s practically chamber music.

And this time, Cockrell is surrendering one of the three piano concertos to student soloists. “Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A Major, K. 488, is the one that most young people learn first. It was the one I learned first. And I decided that people didn’t need to hear me play it again, so I’ve turned the solo part over to three of the students.”

Louis Lohraseb, who will play the first movement, is a 10th-grader at Schalmont High School and a private student of Cockrell. “He’s also a composer,” says Cockrell, “who likes to write in Mozart’s style. So he’ll be playing his own cadenza in the first movement.”

The other soloists, both students of Young Kim, are Patricia Kim (no relation), who will play the slow movement, and Allen Yu, who performs the finale.

The two other are the Piano Concerto in C Minor, K. 491, and the Piano Concerto in C Major, K. 503. Also on the program is Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro overture which, like the three piano concertos, was written in 1786. Norman Thibodeau, a woodwind player with the Albany Symphony, will conduct the overture; he’s also been coaching the wind section of the Amadeus.

“If the concerts are a success,” says Cockrell, “and I don’t lose too much money on them, I’m hoping to do more. I’m thinking that it might be nice, in the spring, to present an all-Mozart program in which all of the soloists are students.” What it comes down to, then, is a $10 investment in classical music’s future, with the immediate payoff of a pleasant listening experience. And, he says, “you can’t ask for much more than that.”

The Amadeus Chamber Orchestra will perform at 3 PM Saturday (Sept. 30) at the First United Methodist Church (55 Fenn St., Pittsfield, Mass.), and at 3 PM Sunday (Oct. 1) at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (2nd and State streets, Troy). Admission to each concert is $10 general admission, $5 for students. For information about the Pittsfield concert, call (413) 499-0866. For Troy info, call 273-0038.

—B.A. Nilsson

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