Ensemble plans upcoming classical concerts

Local classical musician Ellen Bardekoff is the founder and leader of the Bardekova Ensemble.
Photo courtesy of Ellen Bardekoff

A classical music ensemble is planning four upcoming concerts for the public to enjoy.

The concerts, performed in Woodlawn, Bedford Park and Co-op City between July and October, promise to bring high quality chamber music to local communities for free.

The Bardekova Ensemble, founded about 30 years by Julliard-trained oboe player Ellen Bardekoff, a Fordham community member and life-long Bronxite, has upcoming dates at the Woolworth chapel at Woodlawn Cemetery, Poe Park’s Visitors Center, and in Co-op City’s Dreiser Loop Auditorium.

“This is an opportunity to experience classical music for free in the Bronx,” said Bardekoff, adding that tickets to comparable performances in Manhattan or elsewhere can often cost $50 or more.

There will be concerts at the Woolworth Chapel in Woodlawn on Sunday, July 16 and Sunday, September 3, both at 3 p.m.

Performances will also take place at the Poe Park Visitor Center on Friday, July 28 at 2 p.m. and at 177 Drieser Loop on Sunday, October 22 at 3 p.m.

The mission of the Bardekova Ensemble is to bring free concerts to borough residents, including those in underserved communities, and to expand their awareness of classical music, said Bardekoff.

Crowds have been appreciative to find classical music in their communities, she said.

“I was playing in Poe Park a few years back and a man started crying (for joy),” said Bardekoff. “He went (to a NYC Parks Department employee) and thanked God he was able to find a classical concert in the borough to experience.”

All of the performers have between two to four decades of experience performing classical music.

The free concerts will feature not only classical pieces, but also renditions of the music of Miles David, Duke Ellington, Celia Cruz, Franz Danzi, Irving Berlin, George Cohan and others.

The ensemble includes Bardekoff on oboe Richard Paratley on flute, Akari Yamamoto on clarinet, Nancy Vizza on the french horn and Shotaro Mori on bassoon.

Bardekoff grew up in the borough, where she began to play piano at a very young age.

She first played at the urging of her mother, who was a singer.

Her mother brought her to the world-renowned Julliard School when she was six-years-old, and to her mother’s surprise she was accepted into the program, said Bardekoff.

Years later, she returned to Julliard to obtain a masters degree. In the meantime, she had switched her interest from piano to oboe, and became a music teacher.

For years she taught at schools including at DeWitt Clinton High School, M.S. 127 near Parkchester, and several Catholic schools both in the borough and Brooklyn.

Funding for the Bardekova Ensemble comes from Bronx Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Greater NY Arts Development Fund Program, Music Performance Trust Fund and private donations.

The Coalition to Save Affordable Housing, Riverbay Corp. board of director Andrea Leslie, and private donations, according to Bardekoff, sponsored the Co-op City Concert.

For information about the Woodlawn Cemetery concerts, contact the Woodlawn Conservancy at (718) 920-1469.

For more information on the ensemble and the performances, visit thebardekovaensemble.wordpress.com.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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