By Lisa Denoncourt

In Celebration of the 150th Anniversary Season of the legendary Worcester Music Festival, Music Worcester is proud to present The Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra under the conduction of Hobart Earle, featuring Cellist William De Rosa at Mechanics Hall, Friday March 12.
“[The 150th Anniversary] affords us the opportunity to showcase this distinguished orchestra from the Ukraine which chose a young American conductor to lead its orchestra,” Stasia Hovenesian, Executive Director of Music Worcester says of Earle.
The oldest Music Festival in the United States, The Worcester Music Festival carries a rich history of performances by world-renowned orchestras, chamber music, ballet, and music/choral masterworks; Music Worcester has been the presenter of the festival since 1858.
Internationally regarded as one of the world’s great concert halls, Mechanics Hall is host to the event.  “It is always a thrill for us to welcome performing artists into our famed Great Hall where our renowned acoustics make their beautiful music sound even more special,” Robert Kennedy, Executive Director of Mechanics Hall says.
“If you’re a pioneer, you catch a lot of slack.” Hobart Earle says. As Music Director and Principle Conductor of the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra, Earle has done his fair share of pioneering since his Odessa debut in 1991.  “I caught slack for all kinds of things in the first year,” says Earle. “I spoke to the audience and I also conduct partly from memory and in the early 90’s that was really unheard of in that part of the world.”
The pairing of an American Conductor and a Ukrainian Orchestra presented its challenges, especially since Earle didn’t speak a word of Russian. Luckily, Earle (who was born in Venezuela but raised in America) was fluent in Spanish and a Cuban violist would translate Earle’s Spanish into Russian.
The blending of cultures has been a learning experience for Earle, who splits his time between Odessa and touring with the Orchestra. “My whole approach toward Russian music has been transformed completely,” Earle says. “As a foreigner you don’t have the same feel. Russian music is very much in their blood.” The Orchestra has been equally as influenced by Earle, with a new repertoire and broadened sense of style. “It’s sort of like a marriage. There is peace and turmoil, love and fighting and that’s all a part of it,” Earle explains. “But when it comes to a performance, we have a very good relationship on stage. They know exactly what I want.”
During his time with the Odessa Philharmonic, Earle has elevated the Orchestra to international attention, with tours in major concert halls across the globe. In part to the international acclaim, the Odessa Philharmonic is the first performing arts organization to have their funding status raised from regional to national by the government of Ukraine. In recognition of his work, Earle was awarded with the title “Distinguished Artist of Ukraine,” the first and only foreigner in the history of Ukraine to be so honored. “The people of Odessa really consider me their own,” says Earle.
Schubert, Saint Saens, & Beethoven by The Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra, Hobart Earle Music Director; featuring Cellist William De Rosa. Tickets: $46, $43, student with ID $20. Friday March 12, 8pm. Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St., Worcester. 508-752-5608