Published January 10. 2013 4:00AM
Now that every dance group on the planet has put "The Nutcracker" to rest for the year, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra keeps up the beat Saturday at the Garde Arts Center, when ECSO Music Director Toshi Shimada leads the orchestra in a program that's almost entirely the ballet composer's music.
But an intriguing counterpoint to the hoofbeats of the Tchaikovsky warhorses will be the role of two 20-something Connecticut women in the concert.
The program opens with a short new work called "Render and Reach" by Emily Cooley, a composition student at Yale, where Shimada is on the faculty. This will be the second Yale student work Shimada has brought here, the first being Loren Loiacono's sonic showpiece "Pas de Deux" in 2011.
And the soloist in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto will be Easton native Chelsea Starbuck Smith, the winner of the 2012 ECSO Instrumental Competition. A student at The Juilliard School, Smith has also studied with ECSO concertmaster Stephan Tieszen.
The concert ends with Tchaikovsky's noisy, bipolar - and ever-popular - Symphony No. 4.
- MILTON MOORE
Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra,
8 p.m. Saturday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; with 7 p.m. pre-concert lecture by Stephan Tieszen; $27-$60 with senior, student, and active military; $12 student rush tickets; (860) 443-2876, gardearts.org.