By Jennie McKeon
For those who say that the symphony isn’t a visual experience have to see Pensacola Symphony Orchestra’s annual Cirque de la Symphonie, a POPS! Series event.
“This is not something you get to see every day, a live symphony orchestra performing alongside acrobats, contortionists, clowns and jugglers,” said Matt Fossa, principal oboist for PSO. “It’s a wonderful integration of many different kinds of artistry.”
Because this performance is not your average evening at the symphony, this might be the time to try out something new.
“The multimedia sensation of having activity on stage to watch while popular orchestra music plays would make this a great event for people who either never heard the symphony or don’t find enjoyment in listening to an orchestra and watching the players,” Fossa said.
Bringing in a new audience is precisely why PSO tries to engage everyone—whether they’re die-hard classical music lovers or not.
“In this day and age, versatility is extremely important,” Fossa explained. “Everyone in this area is a potential audience member and reaching out to them in new and innovative ways by presenting a variety of appealing programs is vital.”
Fossa not only loves getting the chance to engage new audience members, but to remind everyone that the Pensacola community has a rich, arts culture.
“Pensacola is far more than just another beach and resort town,” he said. “The vibrant, artistic and musical community here has a very important role in defining our city’s culture.”
The support to the symphony—as well as other non-profit arts—benefits the entire community.
“Supporting the symphony enables us to continue to be a part of that cultural definition and also gives us more opportunities to provide high-quality entertainment and educational experiences for our citizen,” Fossa said. “In turn, this makes more people interested in visiting or even living and doing their business here.”
While performers juggle and flip about the stage, with the soundtrack provided by the symphony, the audience is treated to sensory overload.
“The intensity of this performance will be far, far greater because everything is happening live and with any live performance, there is a special kind of energy and connection with the audience that cannot be achieved any other way,” Fossa said.
While the performance will be truly original—and a real first for anyone who hasn’t seen a Cirque de la Symphonie performance—the music will be familiar.
“This truly will be a ‘Classical Pops’ concert featuring pieces the audience has most likely heard before,” Fossa said.
Many of the great composers will be represented Fossa said. The set list of the night will feature music by Tchaikovsky, Bizet, Dvorak, Saint-Saens and Chabrier to name a few.
“Truly all the pieces are wonderful,” Fossa said. “I’m looking forward to Saint-Saens’ ‘Bacchanale.’ I’ll be kicking off that piece off with a big oboe solo and later, as the piece goes on, a melody appears that will probably make everyone think of snake charmers in the desert.”
This month, Fossa has been a part of PSO for 11 years.
“It’s been a wonderful experience getting to perform with other outstanding area musicians, many of whom have become not just colleagues, but good friends, and, in one case, even family,” he said.
In that past decade, Fossa has enjoyed working hard at something he is so passionate about.
“It’s great when your job doesn’t feel like work,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, there’s work involved in terms of preparing my part to the best of my ability, but the feeling I get when on stage and adding my ‘voice’ into the carefully crafted textures of the orchestra pieces is, well, transcendent.”
When it comes to the next 11 years and beyond, Fossa is optimistic.
“So far, we have been moving on and ever upward and I look forward to many more seasons with this fantastic group of supremely talented artists,” he said.
Although Fossa can’t decide which performance is his favorite, Cirque de la Symphonie is high on the list.
“This season, overall, has been terrific for me so it’s hard to pick a favorite concert,” he said. “I would say this is my favorite POPS! Concert because great music is being presented in an exciting and innovating way.”
CIRQUE DE LA SYMPHONIE
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, February 9
WHERE: Saenger Theatre, 118 S. Palafox
COST: $20 to $82
DETAILS: pensacolasymphony.com or pensacolasaenger.com