"This group just does not look like a traditional chamber orchestra," said Mary Richardson, director of the Banners Series. "The first thing you'll notice is that no one is sitting down - well, except for the cello players. There are no chairs on the whole stage."
There is also no conductor. The group was founded in 2007 by 17 young musicians in the Boston area who wanted to make music according to their own rules. And one of their rules was they didn't want a conductor.
Instead, the ensemble developed an innovative structure of rotating leadership, both on stage and behind the scenes - creating something called "collaboratively empowered" music. This in turn lets the members experiment with the ways in which they prepare, perform and experience music.
The repertoire A Far Cry has chosen for the Banners Series concert reflects its unorthodox approach to performing. The concert will include "The Fencing School" by Schmelzer, "Ancient Airs and Dances; Book 3" by Respighi, Beethoven's Opus 95 arranged by Mahler and "Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge" by Britten.
"The Banners Committee chose this group to come to Lake Charles because the musicians really make contact with their audience," Richardson said. "Their performance will have you on the edge of your seat."
The unusual format of A Far Cry has proved popular. The group has performed more than 200 performances throughout the world, produced three albums and is embarking on another European tour this year.
A Far Cry is also the Chamber Orchestra in Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and maintains an educational partnership with the New England Conservatory.
A Far Cry is the third of 20 performances and lectures included in the Banners Series. Performances will continue through May 12. A brochure describing the various performances is available by calling the Banners office or going to the Banners website.
Tickets to the performance are included in memberships to the Banners Series. A basic membership includes two tickets to all performances, plus seating in a reserved area and invitations to members-only receptions. Cost is $150. Memberships are available online at www.banners.org or by calling the Banners Series office at 337-475-5123.
Individual tickets are also available at $20 for adults and $5 for students. McNeese and Sowela students are admitted free with IDs. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at the Lake Charles Civic Center Box Office or online at www.banners.org
The series is supported by memberships and corporate sponsors, which provide 60 percent of the cost of the series. All hotel rooms for the artists are provided by the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel. Special support for the educational outreach program, which provides live performances in 60 K-12 schools, is provided by CITGO, the city of Lake Charles and the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury.
Other sponsors include Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Louisiana, Chase, Stockwell Sievert Law Firm, Jeff Davis Bank and Trust, West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital Foundation, Entergy, PPG, Union Pacific Railroad, AT&T and AT&T Yellow Pages, IBERIABANK, Knight Media Inc., the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Empire of the Seed, KPLC TV, the American Press, Ranier Law Firm, Bolton Ford, ConocoPhillips, Southwest Beverage Co., the Stream Family, Fuerst Law Firm, Lake Charles Pre-Sort, Louisiana Swashbucklers, Frame House & Gallery, Domino's Pizza, Paradise Florist, Louisiana Lottery, Townsley Law Firm, Sasol North America, The Hearing Center, Newman, Hoffoss & Devall LLP, First Federal Bank of Louisiana, Partners in Physical Therapy, Sweets and Treats, Southern Sound Systems and the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living.
Persons needing accommodations as provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the ADA Coordinator at 337-475-5428, voice; 337-475-5960, fax; 337-562-4227, TDD/TTY, hearing impaired; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .