For Brett Wery, the summer of 2018 will be quite a memorable one.
A long-time musician and educator, Wery is becoming the Dean of the School of Music at Schenectady County Community College next week, and, during July and August, will serve as the guest conductor for the Schenectady Symphony. The new college post commences Sunday, July 1, and his short gig with the Schenectady Symphony begins Tuesday, July 3, with a special free performance at the Mabee Farm in Rotterdam Junction.
Wery is replacing Bill Meckley at SCCC and temporarily succeeding the retiring Charles Schneider at the helm of the Schenectady Symphony. Coincidentally, both of those men have been at their respective posts for 34 years.
"I am so thrilled to be conducting the Schenectady Symphony for their two summer programs," said Wery, "and it's an honor to be following Bill as Dean of the School of Music at SCCC. I played the clarinet with the Schenectady Symphony for years, and I've enjoyed working with Bill and other great faculty at SCCC for 25 years. SCCC has a great music program, and I am going to work hard to make sure it continues to thrive. They are each one more learning curve in my life I'm going to have to negotiate, but I'm very much looking forward to it."
A North Carolina native, Wery was making a living in New York City as a musician before heading to SCCC.
"I was a woodwind player doing various shows in New York City and then I decided I needed some health care," remembered Wery. "I put out some feelers for a teaching job in some colleges and got the job in Schenectady. It's been very enjoyable."
Tuesday's free concert at the Mabee Farm begins at 7 p.m. While the Schenectady Symphony is the headliner and will play at 8 p.m., the earlier performers will include the Out of Time barbershop quartet from SCCC. The group is made up of Christian Gomez, Devin Canavally, Robert Frasier and Burke Herrick.
"I'm excited that the SCCC a cappella groups are going to be our opening act, and the name of our performance is going to be 'American Frontier,'" said Wery. "We're going to be doing music by Aaron Copland, because I think it has a real Americana feel to it, and other tunes like 'The Girl I Left Behind Me,' 'Oh! Susanna,' 'America the Beautiful.' We'll do medleys and overtures that have been a part of symphony orchestras for centuries, before there were American musicals."
Along with the Mabee Farm performance next week, Wery will conduct the Schenectady Symphony in another concert scheduled for Aug. 11 at the Music Haven in Schenectady's Central Park.
"The symphony will have a series of conductors for the 2018-2019 season, and I'm just the first of those," said Wery. "My wife plays oboe for the Albany Symphony so I was at their performance at the Mabee Farm last summer, and it was wonderful. We're a little bit smaller, but we're really looking forward to it. We'll have the big barn to one side of us and the historic house will be the backdrop for the orchestra. It's a beautiful site."
The Schenectady Symphony Orchestra was created in 1935 and, as it did then, draws from the local community for its musicians. The concert season typically consists of four concerts a year, and the 2018-2019 season will officially begin on Oct. 21 at Proctors. Other events will be held on Jan. 20, 2019, March 24, 2019 and May 12 of next year, all at Proctors.
Schenectady Symphony Orchestra president Robert Bour said that selecting Schneider's successor will be a long process. Schneider has been honored by the group by being named to the new position of Musical Director Emeritus.
"We have a search committee involved in the process of picking our next conductor, and it will probably go the entire year," said Bour. "We'll be reading resumes and inviting guest conductors for the various concerts this coming season, and then we hope to make a decision by May of 2019. The new conductor would then start on July 1 and that will be the beginning of our 85th season."
WHAT: A performance by the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra
WHERE: Mabee Farm Historic Site, 1100 Main St., Rotterdam Junction
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 3
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: www.schenectadysymphony.org