The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra is a youth chamber orchestra based in Palo Alto, Calif., An emphasis on chamber music sets it apart from other youth orchestras. - Photo courtesy of Margie Daly

PACO's young musicians play with passion

Strains of timeless favorites for strings, along with music by contemporary composers, will be performed on the Elizabethan Stage under the stars at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Benjamin Simon, returns to Ashland for the finale of its 45th-anniversary season at 8 p.m. Monday, June 27.

PACO's annual concerts showcase performers and composers who are high school-aged or younger.

Teddy Abrams, a native of Palo Alto, Calif., and a rising classical conductor, composer and pianist, will be PACO's guest soloist for its performance of Gerald Finzi's "Five Bagetelles," an arrangement for clarinet and string orchestra.

The program also will include a new work commissioned for the orchestra. "Window Watchers in a City of Strangers" was written this year by Elizabeth Ogonek, a recipient of PACO's "Youth for Youth" commission and the Morton Gould Young Composer Award.

Ogonek was born in 1989 and began formal music studies at age 5 at Manhattan School of Music in New York City. Concentrating on piano, she began composition studies her junior year. She graduated from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in composition. In 2010, she began studying for a master's degree in composition at the Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California.

Ogonek also has received commissions from the Brillaner Duo — featuring clarinetist Shirley Brill and pianist Jonathan Aner, winners of the Geneva and the Melbourne International competitions — and New York-based , , the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, and New York-based horn player Alma Marie Liebrecht.

Edvard Grieg's "Holberg Suite" and the first movement of Felix Mendelssohn's "Octet" also will be presented during Monday's concert.

Tickets cost $14, $12 for seniors and $6 for students; purchase at the OSF box office, 541-482-4331.

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