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Greenville's first professional orchestra, New Carolina Sinfonia debuts this weekend

In Greenville, a new professional orchestra will be making its debut this weekend. The New Carolina Sinfonia will take the stage Saturday, performing well-known works by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Cherubini.

The orchestra, in a way has performed before, as the accompaniment for last year's Nutcracker Ballet in Greenville and for the Greenville Choral Society. The ensemble has never really performed on its own or sought a permanent, standalone status. Chris Buddo is a bass player for the group and one of the main organizers. He got the idea to formally organize while rehearsing with the Choral Society.

"So I'm sitting there in this rehearsal thinking, 'You know, there's a pretty good orchestra sitting here," Buddo said. "If we met regularly, we could really put something together for Greenville that's more permanent."

Greenville is the largest city in North Carolina without a professional orchestra. That's despite a nearby music school and thriving arts community that attracts nationally-recognized performers. Buddo is excited to launch the venture, but says the easy part of finding musicians is over. The challenge now is to sustain it.

"If I can get all the funding pulled together, we're going to play together four or five times a year and that should create a level of orchestra that's really high quality," he said.

The inaugural concert is this weekend, and the New Carolina Sinfonia will gather under the baton of conductor Jorge Richter, who's also helped in organizing. Richter shared what's in store, starting with the Faniska Overture by Luigi Cherubini.

"It's the most intriguing to me," Richter said, adding that Cherubini was a renowned composed as Beethoven began entering the scene. "The interesting story is that for Beethoven, Cherubini was the greatest composer alive at his time."

They'll follow the Cherubini with Mozart's Piano Concerto #17 in G Major, with ECU's Kwan Yi at the keys. The piece "is one of Mozart's most loved concertos," Richter said.

And they'll close with Mendelssohn's Symphony #4, which Buddo says is "tour de force" for the players" because of the opening movement's fast tempo and flittering winds.

"It's one of the most exciting works for orchestra," Richter added. "The amount of energy that it's in written in that piece is amazing."

"We're really proud to be able to have an orchestra that really is all about Greenville," Buddo said."There's definitely a need and this is the time."

The New Carolina Sinfonia takes the stage this Saturday at 7:30 at the Wright Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be found here and support for the New Carolina Sinfonia can be made here.

Ryan is an Arkansas native and podcast junkie. He was first introduced to public radio during an internship with his hometown NPR station, KUAF. Ryan is a graduate of Tufts University in Somerville, Mass., where he studied political science and led the Tufts Daily, the nation’s smallest independent daily college newspaper. In his spare time, Ryan likes to embroider, attend musicals, and spend time with his fiancée.