Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS (COFE) presents informal concerts combining premieres of new commissioned works by Philadelphia-area composers with early works by W.A. Mozart. Composers, performers, and renowned guest soloists speak about their own development as artists in the light of the early career of Mozart who provides an ideal model for our project. His development as a musician is uniquely traceable through his music as well as through the voluminous surviving correspondence with his family.
COFE’s orchestra combines a core of superb Philadelphia free-lance players with a small and select group of advanced student string players from Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr Colleges. Participating students have the opportunity to work directly with composers on challenging new repertoire, and to collaborate with eminent soloists and some of Philadelphia’s best professional musicians.
James Freeman, formerly the Artistic Director/Conductor/Founder of Philadelphia’s Orchestra 2001, is COFE’s Musical Director and Founder. “As in my 27 years with Orchestra 2001,” says Freeman, “one important aspect of FIRST EDITIONS concerts will always be the excitement of commissioning and introducing new works to the world. We exist as musicians to bring the music of our time to as broad an audience as we can reach. Each concert will include two world premieres by area composers.”
“The other objective of COFE’s concerts and informal discussions,” continues Freeman, “is to explore many of Mozart’s early works, especially the piano concertos, always with a conscious attempt to understand how this most amazing of composers developed during the course of 10 to 15 years – from a supremely gifted child who constantly absorbed and often challenged the music of his older contemporaries, to the composer of the last three symphonies.”
All concerts are free and to open to the public without ticket and include informal interactive discussion with the composers, soloists, orchestra members, and audience. Our focus will always be on how composers develop – in the last quarter of the 18th century and, by comparison, in the first quarter of the 21st century. The format for each concert will vary greatly, providing each with an individual character. Orchestra seating, audience seating, and the nature of the discussions will vary from one concert to the next, partly to provide different sonic and visual experiences for the audience as well as the musicians, and also to experiment with various degrees of formality, informality, and interchange between audience and performers.
COFE’s concerts take place at Swarthmore College’s Lang Concert Hall and Haverford College’s Roberts Hall. Most concerts will be preceded one-half hour before the advertised concert time by a musical event in the lobby performed by a non-classical, sometimes non-western, ensemble.