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Brahms, Not Bombs

Pensacola Symphony Orchestra Kicks Off Its 85th Season
by Will Strickland

It’s time to get out your most dashing attire and head down to the Saenger Theatre for the beginning of another superb season with the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra.

Opening night begins with Brahms Double on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 8 p.m. As the first of five shows in the Masterworks series, this is a show that no fan of classical music should miss. The evening will begin with Antonín Dvořák’s “Carnival Overture” and will also feature guest artists Zuill Bailey and Elena Urioste, who will join the orchestra for Brahms’ famous “Double Concerto.” Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ “Symphony No. 1” will conclude opening night.

Last year was a breakthrough season for the symphony with the return of the renovated Saenger Theatre and the new orchestra shell. However, the progress is still continuing, and according to Executive Director Bret Barrow, “The improvements that we will make artistically this year, becoming more accustomed to our new hall and the awesome acoustics, will result in improved experiences. With the new shell, the orchestra can relax more, and play with more energy and confidence, with every nuance leaping off the stage to the ears of the listeners. It’s an amazing experience. The concert programs each feature a blockbuster and I think from October to April, there is not a concert that lets off the throttle.”

If you didn’t get a chance to make it to an event last year, or any year before that, there is no better time than now to experience one of Pensacola’s greatest entertainment options. Maestro Peter Rubardt welcomes you to “Come prepared to be entertained, stimulated, and moved by the power of orchestral music. Don’t worry about what to wear, or how to act, or when to clap, or anything like that. Going to a PSO concert is easy. Just come in and enjoy.”

If that isn’t enough to sway you, keep in mind that, according to Barrow, “Our orchestra exists for the community, and our musicians and patrons make the experience special. It’s a great learning experience, a great first date, or a great 50th anniversary. It is a true celebration of our shared culture as people.”

Rubardt took great care in his selections for upcoming shows in order to make sure that the shows will be appreciated by all. “This season I went for pieces with a lot of excitement and passion. Many of the pieces are among the greatest creative achievements in history. Every program packs a wallop,” Rubardt explains.

There will be plenty to see as the season continues on. The second show, Heroic Beethoven, will be held Saturday, Nov. 6 at 8 p.m. This show will feature Rossini’s “Overture from La Cenerentola” (Cinderella), Shostakovich’s “Piano Concerto No. 1,” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 3” or “Eroica.” Internationally famous and supremely talented pianist Ran Dank will be the featured guest.

If you prefer your Canadian tuxedo over the traditional one, you definitely don’t want to miss the third show of the season: Beethoven, Blue Jeans, and the 1812. Casual night at the symphony will feature Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture,” Ravel’s “Concerto in G,” three dance episodes from “On the Town” by Bernstein, Torke’s “Run,” Ives’ “Putnam’s Camp” and will conclude with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Piano phenom Adam Golka will be the featured guest, so don’t be surprised if you blow a seam on your 501s.

On March 5, 2011, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra will be performing “The Planets.” This show will feature two of the most famous modern works in history, Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony” and Holst’s “The Planets.” I’m pretty sure they won’t be serving Tang, but you are still assured to enjoy a musical journey throughout our Solar System.

Pensacola Symphony Orchestra’s 85th season concludes on April 16, 2011 with Pictures At An Exhibition. Jennifer Frautschi will be on hand to perform Stravinsky’s “Violin Concerto,” so I would recommend purchasing your tickets early and bringing a pair of binoculars.

If you are still hesitant to experience an orchestra for the first time, Barrow offers his reassurance: “We certainly encourage folks to attend that have never been to an orchestra. There are several traditions and perceptions about what an orchestra concert is and should be. Most of these are inaccurate in 2010.” So leave your excuses at home, come out, and try something new.

PENSACOLA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OPENING NIGHT
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2
WHERE: Saenger Theatre, 118 S. Palafox Place
COST: $20-$52
DETAILS: 435-2533, or pensacolasymphony.com