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WSO's Final MasterWorks of the Season 'Heavenly Journey: Mozart and Mahler'

A 'Not To Miss' Transcendent Season Finale on Sunday, May 19th

The Waterbury Symphony Orchestra will cap off its 2023/24 ‘Celebrating Joy’ Season with a transcendent concert aptly entitled ‘Heavenly Journey: Mozart & Mahler’ with not one, but three special performances for the audience on Sunday, May 19th at its home in the Fine Art Center of CT STATE Community College, Naugatuck Valley [CSCC/NV], formerly NVCC.   

With a Grammy nominated soprano, Laquita Mitchell, joining the WSO for what will be a stunning closing movement in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in G Major to look forward to, the WSO’s vision of supporting young emerging and percolating talent will be also be in full display. The concert will kick off with Mozart’s beloved ‘Marriage of Figaro Overture’ with students from the Taft School Chamber Orchestra performing side-by-side on-stage with the professional WSO musicians. Mozart’s Clarinet Concert in A Major, K.622 will then delight as this year’s Thomas C. Clark Young Artist Competition Winner - Chris Dechant, a 19-year-old heralding from Texas, who has been described as a ‘clarinet prodigy’ studying at Juilliard, will perform with the entire Waterbury Symphony Orchestra throughout the piece.   

A Precious Concert Kick Off. A Four Minute 'Side By Side' with the Taft Student Orchestra

With the concert 'teeing off' with Mozart’s beloved ‘Marriage of Figaro Overture’ with students from the Taft School Chamber Orchestra performing side-by-side on-stage with the professional WSO musicians, Doug Donato Executive Director of the WSO enthused “The brand-new collaboration with The Taft School's Student Chamber Orchestra has generated quite some excitement. To offer these 25 talented student musicians from The Taft School an opportunity to performing alongside the seasoned professionals of the WSO, is partly what we are about as an orchestra.”  The initiative was spearheaded by Lisa Laquidara, a dedicated violinist with the WSO and a teacher at The Taft School, working closely with TJ Thompson, Taft’s Director of Instrumental Music.

Pre-Concert Lecture By Noted Speaker, WSO Cultural Ambassador Dr. Vincent deLuise

WSO's Cultural Ambassador Dr. Vincent deLuise

Prior to the 3pm concert, at 2pm, the audience is also welcomed to attend the pre-concert lecture entitled ‘Mozart and Mahler: Two Titans, Perfect Together.’  WSO’s Cultural Ambassador, Dr. Vincent deLuise, an avid Mozart fan who holds insight into the deep and personal histories of classical composers and music, shared: “Mahler adored Mozart’s music, uttering Mozart’s name over and over, as he lay dying.” This 25-minute lecture will explore the commonalities and differences in their musical styles.  Maestro Leif Bjaland says that “Mozart and Mahler are really two sides of the same divinely inspired coin. Mozart's music goes directly to the heart. His music is perfectly balanced, yet utterly human. Like the music of Mozart, there is a sense of childlike wonder in the music of Gustav Mahler, and a delight in the sounds around him.

About the program, Maestro Leif Bjaland shared, “Gustav Mahler once said “A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” With his 4th Symphony, Mahler goes one better, adding the angles of heaven as well.  Mahler’s heaven is seen from the perspective of an innocent child, so the symphony is filled with bright tinkling sounds, like sleigh bells, piccolos and glockenspiel and concludes with a song for soprano and orchestra, extolling the wonderful food and beautiful music that heaven has to offer.

This concert was made possible by Title Concert Sponsors Keith & Jane Mahler, with support from Season Title Sponsor Thermo Conductor Services and Connecticut Summer Operation Foundation

As well as support from our Season Title Sponsor Thermo Conductor Services, and Connecticut Summer Opera Foundation, the concert was made possible by a generous contribution from Keith and Jane Mahler, the Title Concert Sponsors for WSO’s ‘Heavenly Journey’. Keith and Jane 

Mahler are in their second career as Connecticut’s largest independent concert promoters, and through their work with diverse venues as The Palace Theatre, Powder Ridge in Middlefield, College Street Music Hall, Westville Bowl in New Haven and the newly refurbished District Music Hall in Norwalk, the company presents over 300 shows annually.

The full Waterbury Symphony Orchestra will be on stage on Sunday May 19th at 3 pm at the Fine Arts Center of CT State Community College, Naugatuck Valley.  

Tickets start at $25, available online via the WSO website at (, or by phone, by calling WSO’s box office partner, The Palace Theater Box Office at (203) 346-2000Monday-Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. 



Sunday, May 19th 3* pm [ * 2 pm Pre-Concert Lecture by Dr. Vincent deLuise]

MasterWorks Concert  ‘Heavenly Journey: Mozart & Mahler’ 

Fine Art Center, 

CT State Community College, Naugatuck Valley [Formerly NVCC] 

750 Chase Parkway, Waterbury


1:30 pm Doors Open 

2:00 pm Pre-Concert Talk by WSO Cultural Ambassador Dr Vincent deLuise

3:00 pm Concert 



Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro, Overture   (4’)

Featuring students from the Taft School Chamber Orchestra

Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622  (28’)

I. Allegro

II. Adagio

III. Rondo: Allegro

Featuring Chris Dechant, Clarinet –

Winner of the 2024 WSO Thomas C. Clark Young Artist Competition

Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G Major  (55’)

I. Bedächtig, nicht eilen

II. In gemächlicher Bewegung, ohne Hast

III. Ruhevoll

IV. Sehr behaglich

Featuring Laquita Mitchell, Soprano


Free accessible parking in covered garage

Tickets $25; $10 for students with ID - Call box office

Tickets by phone: 203-346-2000*

*Via box office partner 

Waterbury Symphony Orchestra Telephone: 203-574-4283 

Leif Bjaland, Music Director 

Concert Sponsor: Keith and Jane Mahler 

Further Concert Support:

Season Title Sponsor: Thermo Conductor Services, Inc

Connecticut Summer Opera Foundation [CSOF]


About WSO's Thomas C. Clark Young Artist Initiative  

Launched in 2019,  WSO’s Thomas C. Clark Young Artist Initiative includes one annual Young Artist Chamber Series and an annual Young Artist Concerto Competition.  The Young Artist Chamber Series features chamber music performed by young musicians affiliated with the Yale School of Music. The performers are compensated though the generosity of an endowed fund established by Mr. Thomas C. Clark and further the WSO and Mr. Clark’s goal of highlighting and bolstering the careers of young musicians.

The Young Artist Concerto Competition is an annual competition launched to encourage the musical development of emerging artists. The competition prize is made possible through the generosity of the Thomas C. Clark Young Artist Prize Fund and is the only named, endowed competition prize in Connecticut.  Winners compete with contestants from throughout continental USA, initially winning a $1500 prize, and earn the opportunity to perform with the WSO, and an important credential for their resume.  In 2024, Dr Vincent deLuise bolstered the prize winnings another $500, resulting in a $2000 award for this year’s winner.  

Mr. Clark, with many years of experience serving on the boards of orchestras and performing arts organizations, knows well the significance of this type of opportunity for young musicians for its performance, monetary, and credential values.   “Having been involved for a long time with emerging musicians, I know how important it is for them to demonstrate their prowess in a performance with a symphony orchestra.   The prize fund is a named endowment and has real and enduring value both for the winners and the Symphony. I’m happy that the Prize will advance these young artists throughout their musical careers,” Mr. Clark explains. 

About Chris Dechant 

The celebrated winner of WSO’s $2000 Thomas C Clark Young Artist Competition

Chris Dechant has been described as “a clarinet prodigy and superstar clarinetist” beating out 7 exceedingly talented contestants from prestigious music from Continental United States.  A remarkably talented 19 year old clarinetist from Dallas, Texas, currently studying with the internationally acclaimed Jon Manasse at The Juilliard School, he has placed in many revered competitions, including first place in the International Clarinet Association's High School Solo Competition, grand prize in the Junior Division of the Silverstein Clarinet Competition, grand prize in Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra's Philharmonic Concerto Competition, finalist for the Marine Band Concerto Competition, and silver medal in Abilene Philharmonic's Concerto Competition. In addition to competitions, Chris is an active orchestral musician, participating in the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra for three years. Most recently, Chris performed as principal clarinet with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America on their North American tour this summer. Chris is also a Young Arts winner and From the Top finalist.

About Laquita Mitchell 

Grammy nominated soprano 'phenom' Laquita Mitchell, will join the WSO for what will be a stunning closing movement in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in G Major

Soprano Laquita Mitchell consistently earns acclaim on eminent international opera and concert stages worldwide, having recently been nominated for a Grammy for her contribution as the soprano soloist in the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul : Sanctuary Road at Carnegie Hall with Oratorio Society of New York.

This season, Mitchell returns to the role of Countess in the New Orleans Opera production of Le nozze di Figaro and reprises her lauded performance of Sanctuary Road with Virginia Opera, Princeton Pro Musica, and the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. A native of New York City, Ms. Mitchell was a 2004 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Prize Winner and was awarded a Sara Tucker Award. She was also the First Prize Winner of the Wiener Kammeroper’s Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition, making her the first American to win this competition in more than twenty years.

Additionally, Ms. Mitchell was the First Prize Winner of the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, as well as the winner of the Audience Choice award. Ms. Mitchell is an alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, holds a Master of Music degree and a Professional Studies Certificate from the Manhattan School of Music and completed undergraduate studies at Westminster Choir College.

About Waterbury Symphony Orchestra: 

Creating music since 1938, the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra’s core belief is that music, music education and shared cultural experiences are essential for humanity.

Three primary strands of the WSO include its MasterWorks Classical Concerts including its annual Symphony & Cinema Concert, its prodigious satellite performances including its Music in Great Spaces series of innovative concerts and smaller ensembles, and finally their celebrated educational programs for libraries, schools, and underserved communities. Led by Leif Bjaland for the past twenty-eight seasons, WSO draws over one hundred talented professional musicians from across New England. As orchestra in residence of the Fine Arts Center, CT State Community College, Naugatuck Valley [CSCC/NV], the Waterbury Symphony wishes to acknowledge the partnership of [CSCC/NV] and the enduring legacy of the generosity and vision of Ruth Ann Leever. For more information by telephone, call 203-574-4283 For tickets online, visit: 

 For ticketing by phone: 203-346-2000 



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