The Akron Symphony Orchestra, which has announced its upcoming 2013-2014 season, is continuing to focus on its mission of building community and celebrating its own musicians.
“There’s a lot of variety, there’s extraordinary music, there’s some surprises and twists,” Music Director Christopher Wilkins said of the lineup. “Our musicians are front and center, the community is front and center.”
One highlight of the classics series will be a celebration Oct. 12 of the orchestra’s 40th anniversary at E.J. Thomas Hall, nearly 40 years to the day after the orchestra first played in the new hall on Oct. 9, 1973. The tie to the university will go further, with Guy Bordo, director of symphonies at the University of Akron, making his guest conducting debut with Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture. Orchestra clarinetist Kristina Belisle Jones also will play Collateral Damage for Clarinet and Orchestra, composed by Nikola Resanovic, UA professor of music.
Also tied to the anniversary is a mystery concert Nov. 2 featuring the orchestra and a yet-unnamed guest. “It’s somebody big,” Wilkins said. “For me, it’s very exciting.”
The orchestra will continue its collaborations with other artists with “Symphonic Shakespeare” Oct. 26, which will feature local actors in famous roles in interplay with the orchestra, which among its four Bard-themed pieces will perform music from Shakespearean film scores.
The production, which will also feature the Summit Children’s Choir, will be directed by Craig Joseph of Canton, who previously directed the orchestra’s Titanic production. Actors will perform iconic monologues from Hamlet and Henry V, set to Shostakovich’s 1964 film score and Walton’s 1943 film score, respectively. Other actors will evoke A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set to the Mendelssohn piece.
The event fits into the orchestra’s goal of finding ways to involve people in their productions through an artistically exciting project that includes a narrative. Such projects “create this vehicle of pulling people from different walks of life onstage with us,” Wilkins said.
Other guest artists will include Olivier Brault, concertmaster for Apollo’s Fire, playing Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons Jan. 11, and pianist Martina Filijak, winner of the 2009 Cleveland International Piano Competition, returning to play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
Alvy Powell, whom audiences will remember as Porgy in the orchestra’s 2011 production of Porgy and Bess, will perform in the “Salute to Those Who Serve and the Greatest Generation” pops concert Nov. 9. He is a member of the U.S. Army Chorus.
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Sept. 14 — Opening night, featuring assistant conductor Levi Hammer playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25. Other pieces are Nelson’s Savannah River Holiday and Brahms’ Symphony No. 1.
Oct. 12 — E.J. Thomas Hall 40th anniversary concert, featuring clarinetist Kristina Belisle Jones in Resanovic’s Collateral Damage for Clarinet and Orchestra. Also on the program will be Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Strauss’ Ein Heldenlaben. Guy Victor Bordo, UA director of orchestras, will be guest conductor.
Oct. 26 — “Symphonic Shakespeare,” featuring the Akron Symphony Chorus and chorus director Maria Sensi Sellner as well as the Summit Children’s Choir. Local actors directed by Craig Joseph. Program to include Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, Walton’s Henry V from the 1943 film score, Shostakovich’s Hamlet from the 1964 film score and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Nov. 9 — “Salute to Those Who Serve and the Greatest Generation,” featuring Alvy Powell of the U.S. Army Chorus, the Akron Symphony Chorus and chorus director Maria Sensi Sellner for patriotic selections on Veterans Day weekend.
Dec. 20 — “Holiday Pops,” featuring the Akron Symphony and the Akron Symphony Chorus with conductor Sellner.
Jan. 11, 2014 — Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Olivier Brault will be featured on violin, and bassoonist Todd Jelen will perform Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto. Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 also will be performed.
Feb. 15 — Gospel Meets Symphony, 7:30 p.m. Chorus master Jennifer Mekel Jones will lead a 200-voice gospel choir with the Akron Symphony Orchestra.
Feb. 22 — “Akron Virtuosos,” featuring cellist Miles and horns players Meghan Guegold, Cynthia Wulff, Ken Wadenpfuhl and Stacie Mickens. Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta, Schumann’s Concertstuck for Four Horns, Faure’s Elegy and Bizet’s Symphony No. 1 will be performed.
March 8 — “Martina Plays Tchaikovsky.” Pianist Martina Filjak will play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1; Cynthia Warren on English horn will play Sibelius’ The Swan of Tuonela. Other pieces will be Sibelius’ Finlandia and Symphony No. 7.
April 12 — “Beethoven and Rossini,” featuring the Akron Symphony Chorus and chorus director Sellner. Program includes Walton’s Crown Imperial, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Rossini’s Stabat Mater.
April 24 — Pops concert “The Music of John Denver” with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and the Jim Curry Band.
May 18 — The Akron Symphony Chorus will present its spring concert, led by Sellner.
May 2014 — Two weeks of Concerts for Kids, conducted by Levi Hammer with the Magical Theatre Company in a variety of community locations. Orchestral music to be complimented by actors and narration for an interactive music experience.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.