Charles City Community Chamber Orchestra concert features distinguished violinist

By Bob Steenson,

Conductor Matt McLellan posed a question to the audience during a break in a concert Sunday afternoon in Charles City.

In how many towns of under 8,000 population can you find a community chamber orchestra, composed of volunteers, and one that can present a program that includes a world-class violinist, performing solo and with the orchestra?

The rhetorical question didn’t elicit a number, but it did offer a real-world example.

The Charles City Community Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of McLellan, from Waverly, performed to a nearly full house Sunday at Trinity United Methodist Church.

The free concert featured Daniel Kaplunas, an award-winning violinist originally from Lithuania who has performed worldwide.

Kaplunas, who now lives in Cedar Falls, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from University of North Texas, where he was the concertmaster of the college’s symphony and chamber orchestras, first violinist with the Graduate String Quartet, and the concertmaster of a new music ensemble.

During his doctoral studies at the University of Georgia, Kaplunas was assistant conductor of the university’s orchestras, principal violist with Gwinnett Ballet orchestra and a member of the Balkan Quartet.

He has been a guest conductor and a violin soloist with various orchestras in the United States and abroad, and has conducted the orchestra and taught violin, viola, chamber music, ear training and other courses at the University of Georgia,  Georgia College and State University, Agnes Scott College and Wartburg College.

Kaplunas played several solo pieces, accompanied by pianist Melody Kosobucki from Cedar Falls, or accompanied by Kosobucki and cellist Matt McLellan from Waverly.

He joined the Charles City Community Chamber Orchestra in performing Concerto in A Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The chamber orchestra also performed additional selections: Romanian Folk Dances by Béla Bartók and a movement from Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 1 in D Major.

The performance was supported by the Virginia Zastrow Smith Endowment for the Performing Arts, and included a post-concert reception with the musicians.