Maestro James Blachly

Maestro James Blachly will lead the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra in "Musical Friendships" at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13, 2019, at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in Richland Township.

This performance will bring out the friendships in music.

The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra will present “Musical Friendships” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the Pitt-Johnstown campus in Richland Township.

The program includes the warm, lush and striking “Violin Concerto,” which composer Johannes Brahms dedicated to his friend and violinist, Joseph Joachim.

“The Brahms ‘Violin Concerto’ is like the lush dessert you know how to make – the one you only bring out on special occasions,” said Maestro James Blachly.

Owen Dalby, a violinist and personal friend of and collaborator with Blachly, will perform as the evening’s soloist.

As the newest member of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, Dalby lives and works as an artist-in-residence at Stanford University.

He also is the co-founder of Decoda, which bills itself as New York City’s trailblazing society of virtuoso chamber musicians, arts advocates and educators.

“He (Dalby) is a violinist with a stellar reputation for integrity and insightful musicianship, tremendous technique, but always at the service of a broad conception of the music,” Blachly said.

“The Brahms is a very deep piece of music. It is virtuosic, but not flashy, and the kind of color of sound the soloist has to match the rich hues that Brahms creates in his music. Dalby has both that intellectual depth and also a sound that can really carry this difficult concerto.”

The other featured work in the concert will be Sir Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations,” a composition of 14 variations on a single theme.

Elgar dedicated the work “to my friends pictured within,” each variation being a musical sketch of one of his circle of close acquaintances, not as portraits of each, but as a “distinct idea founded on some particular personality or perhaps on some incident known only to two people.”

Blachly said Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” is an audience favorite, as it celebrates the composer’s friendships by depicting their personalities in sound. 

“It also celebrates the orchestra itself, with an exuberant ear for sparkle and color, majestic sound and great variety,” he said.

Blachly said the concert will be a special night of music for the community at an extremely high level.

“The beauty of orchestral music is that it is such a rich and full-body experience that everyone feels it differently,” he said.

“Some people may be inspired to find beauty in the world in a new way after the concert, others might laugh out loud at the joy of the Elgar or cry at the beauty of Brahms’s second movement melody.

“Some might be carried away to their childhoods and others whisked away to an idea of their future that they hadn’t dreamt of yet.”

Audience members are invited to attend the pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m., where Blachly will lead listeners to a greater understanding of the music.

Following the concert, attendees will be invited to stay for a post-concert discussion with Blachly and orchestra members, where they will engage in dialogue about the music and can ask questions in an informal setting.

Single tickets are $40 for regular seating and $45 for premium.

To order tickets, call 814-269-7200 or visit

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.