Andrew Cleaver

COCOA BEACH – On the afternoon of Nov. 11, the Riverside Chamber Orchestra will perform “Bohemian Spirit,” a performance composed of some of the most popular works from Bohemia.

The free concert is part of the 2018-19 season of the Dr. Vernon Boushell Concert Series and will feature a solo performance by saxophonist, Andrew Cleaver.

Bohemia is an artistically rich region in the Czech Republic and the birthplace of Czech Romantic-era composer Antonín Dvorák whose work will be spotlighted during the concert.

“The three-chamber orchestra and chorus concert as part of the series are the most costly, and hopefully, most rewarding of our programs because they bring together fine local musicians to present music that is not commonly performed by larger performance organizations,” said Richard Sabino, Riverside Chamber Orchestra conductor. “It has been a gift to our community to organize and develop the Riverside Chamber Orchestra and Chorus. Definitely, we need the generous support of our audience and of the community to continue these programs.”

The concert will open with “Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky” for string orchestra by the Russian Romantic era composer, Anton Arensky who was influenced by Tchaikovsky. His “Variations” are among his most popular compositions.

Andrew Cleaver will be the featured soloist for the “Concerto for Saxophone and String Orchestra” by Russian Composer, Alexander Glazunov. Antonín Dvorák’s “Serenade for Strings” will comprise the second half of the program. Composed in only 12 days, it remains one of the composer’s most frequently performed orchestral works.

Mr. Sabino stated that the chamber orchestra has 17 players as compared to a typical “symphony orchestra” and hence considers music that is written for strings alone or with a limited number of wind parts. Their selections are normally from the Baroque or Classical period but “Bohemian Spirit” has three pieces that were written in the Romantic period.

“Not many conductors are aware of the many unique and entertaining concerti written for saxophone, but Richard Sabino is an exception,” said Mr. Cleaver. “We discussed various compositions for the saxophone over the last few years and he surprised me by suggesting Glazunov concerto. I wasn’t sure if I was up for the challenge of such a difficult work, but when I heard it was on Veteran’s Day and featured a chamber orchestra-as originally written-I couldn’t pass it up.”

Mr. Cleaver feels that “most of the notes are on his fingers” but he is still practicing the entire 15-minute piece start-to-finish twice daily.

“I don’t think I ever practiced this much, even when I was performing full-time in the Air Force Band,” Mr. Cleaver said.

An Air Force veteran, Mr. Cleaver enlisted in 1988 and joined the Heritage Band at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Viginia, as a saxophonist. In the decades that followed, he went on to serve as a saxophonist in the United States Air Forces in Europe Band, the Concert Band, the Glenn Miller Band, the Band of Mid-America, Airmen of Note and as a Drum Major for the Ceremonial Band.

Over the years, Mr. Cleaver has performed with Kevin Eubanks, Kevin Burns, Louise Mandrell and former President Bill Clinton. He has also performed for royalty, presidents and prime ministers.

Today, he lives in Melbourne and performs with Melbourne’s Space Coast Big Band. The Dr. Vernon Boushell Concert Series was named in honor of the late Dr. Vernon Boushell and continues a musical legacy steeped in the sacred and classical repertoire.

The series incorporates many different forms of praise music including contemporary, classical, traditional, folk, sacred and popular.

The free concerts are held on Sundays by the Riverside Presbyterian Church of Cocoa Beach, which is also known as The Music Church because of its music outreach. Riverside Presbyterian Church Deacon Mason Gibson stated that, “Bohemian Spirit” is another meaningful presentation for the community by The Music Church.

“Our music series is now in its second decade, with an emphasis on the sacred and classical repertoire,” said Deacon Gibson. “We hope that visitors who hear these beautiful concerts will return to The Music Church again and again for afternoons of inspiration.”

The next concert in the Dr. Vernon Boushell Concert Series will be “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” featuring the Indialantic Chamber Singers and the Brevard Youth Chorus on Dec. 2 at 3:30 p.m. The concert will feature performances from the groups together and individually as well as a sing-along of Christmas favorites with the audience.

“Bohemian Spirit” will be presented on Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m. at the Riverside Presbyterian Church, which is located at 3400 N. Atlantic Ave. in Cocoa Beach. To reserve free tickets to the concert visit www.riversidepres.org or call (321)525-7825.

For more information or to sign up for concert alerts, visit the church’s website.

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