The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The Akron Symphony Orchestra is in full gear and heading into a brand new season. One of the ways you'll know that is from its great new poster. Everything is on it — a well-drawn summary of its "Classic," "Pops" and "Specials" series, and a great lead-in to maestro Christopher Wilkins at work on his podium.
In the "Classics Series," the orchestra will once again feature seven concerts in E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall. A big highlight, though, will feature the kind of freshness that Wilkins brought with him to the orchestra — drama on the stage, specifically by bringing dancers into the music. This year Akron Symphony Orchestra pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of composer Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" (April 13, 2013) through a unique collaborationwith GroundWorks Dancetheater, a Knight Arts grantee. It should be a great night.
Another notable action is to bring in performers who really know their stuff. To get the nuances of the suites from Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" in January, the orchestra will feature Alexander Schimpf, the 2011 Cleveland International Piano Competition winner. Additionally he will perform Frederic Chopin's "Piano Concerto No. 1."
In the bring-in-the-appropriate-guest-conductor category, ASO will bring Apollo's Fire conductor Jeannette Sorrell to lead the orchestra in Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. Sorrell will also play harpsichord at this performance.
In the "Pops Series," things are changing, for ASO has announced a new home for this series — the Akron Civic Theatre.
According to Howard Parr, executive director of the theater, "The Civic is thrilled." It's "a wonderful opportunity for two much-loved cultural institutions to come togetgher in a way that increases activity in downtown Akron and improves the quality of life in the entire region," Parr added.
The first shared concert in the new venue will be "The Music of ABBA" in October when Arrival (from Sweden) joins the ASO to perform ABBA's smash hits.
Other performances in the series are: Carl Topilow, music director of the Cleveland Pops, to conduct the "Holiday Pops" concert in December and a showing of "Shower the People: The Music of James Taylor" in April when singer/songwriter Neil Donell and the Jeans 'n Classics Band will join ASO to honor Taylor.
Hightlighting musical milestones is one thing with a world renowned composer or well-known work, but it has special meaning when the anniversary is of a local instituion, as it will be when ASO celebrates the 20th anniversary of "Gospel Meets Symphony" in February. The focus will be on the most memorable moments in the event's history. Additionally, there will be the Akron Symphony Chorus spring concert and the Concerts for Kids series.
As ASO Maestro Christopher Wilkins has noted, "Popular favorites, timeless classics and new discoveries will have a place in our concerts this season," adding that this "season showcases a magnificent variety of symphonic music." "You will find quality, variety, spectacle and plenty of on-stage drama," Wilkins said.
Akron Symphony Orchestra will appear in E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, 198 Hill St., Akron; 330-535-8131; www.akronsymphony.org. The new season starts September 15. For complete season scheduling, go to www.akronsymphony.org/concert-event-calendar.