Muskegon, Michigan, June 27, 2017 – Muskegon’s West Michigan Symphony kicks off its 78th season with a slate of concerts that continues the Classical Music for Everyone theme, bringing classical music from around the world including works by Gershwin, Revel, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Brahms and more. The pops season also has an international flair with Irish vocalist Cathie Ryan for Celtic Christmas, soprano Camille Zamora in a program that features Argentinian tango and “Hollywood’s Greatest Melodies,” which welcomes Diane Penning and Paul Langford back to the symphony stage.
Music Director Scott Speck returns for his 15th season with the symphony. When asked which concert he was most looking forward to in the upcoming season, he responded “The great thing about being Music Director of an organization like this is that we never run out of great works to play. I would say there are a couple hundred masterpieces that I feel passionately about, with more being composed each year. In a given season, we are lucky to get through two dozen.”
He continued: “This means two things: First, that I get to program my all-time favorites on every concert; and second, that we will never have a shortage of favorites – because by the time we get through them all, it’s time to start again. In the words of a great bumper sticker I once saw: “So much music, so little time!”
The season opens Sept. 29 with a concert simply titled Ravel & Gershwin Piano Concertos. The concert opens in grand style with the magnificent Overture to “The Flying Dutchman” by Wagner. Then, the title pieces will spotlight the brilliant talents of Cuban pianist Aldo Lopez-Gavilan in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and in Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The concert will also feature another Gershwin favorite, “An American in Paris.”
The Nov. 10 concert, titled “Enigma Variations” is named after Edward Elgar’s work which pays musical tribute to his illustrious and fascinating friends. Conducted by Bohuslav Rattay, Claude Debussy’s revolutionary Prelude to the “Afternoon of a Faun” will open the program and former WMS principal timpanist Andrew Spencer will return to play Michael Daugherty’s timpani concerto, “Raise the Roof.”
The symphony takes a fresh look at holiday programming with the Dec. 15 Celtic Christmas concert. Welcoming back Irish vocalist Cathie Ryan, Scott Speck and the orchestra will join Ryan and her band for a program that reflects her Celtic roots in a wide array of holiday works. The West Michigan Symphony Children’s Choir will also join to bring traditional, popular and Irish-themed music of the season to West Michigan.
The Jan. 12 “Germanic Classics” concert features works by two Mendelssohns. In homage to German composers of the classical period, the Overture in C major, composed by Fanny Mendelssohn (sister to the famous Felix) opens the concert. Then, WMS Principal Horn Paul Clifton is featured on Richard Strauss’ tribute to Mozart, the Horn Concerto no. 1. The concert closes with Symphony no. 1 by Felix Mendelssohn, often considered classical music’s greatest child prodigy.
The Feb. 9 pops concert brings back Diane Penning and Paul Langford for a program titled Hollywood’s Greatest Melodies. The duo will join the symphony for a variety of titles from the American Film Institute’s list of “100 Best Songs from Movies” list. Titles include, “Climb Every Mountain”, “Somewhere”, “The Way We Were”, “Moon River”, and “Love is an Open Door” from the motion picture “Frozen.”
The March 2 concert brings back the Classical Music for Everyone theme, as Scott Speck leads concertgoers though the Romantic period of classical music with a focus on the countries from which they originate. Music from Scandinavia, Spain, France, America, Bohemia and Russia will be featured, closing with one of the most important cello concertos ever written, Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor featuring Russian cellist Alexey Stadler.
“Tango Caliente!” will heat up the Frauenthal stage April 27, under the direction of Matthew Kraemer. Star soprano Camille Zamora and internationally acclaimed bandoneon artist Hector Del Curto will join four stellar Argentinian dancers and the symphony for an evening of fiery tango classics including “La Cumparsita,” “Oblivion,” “El Choclo,” “Volver,” “Por Una Cabeza,” by Astor Piazolla, Carlos Gardel and others.
Scott Speck conducts the final concert of the season which features three great masterpieces. The concert opens with a fourth world premiere from the symphony’s composer-in-residence Austin Wintory. Then, Russian-Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman is featured on Brahms’ iconic Violin Concerto in D major. The May 18 concert closes with Tchaikovsky’s soulful and melodic Symphony No. 4, which boasts one of the top ten endings in orchestra music, completing a thrilling season finale!
Full season tickets for adults start at $144, $85 for masterworks and $62 for pops. Tickets are exchangeable, some require a small fee. Single tickets are on sale now and start at $22 for adults. All student tickets are $10. Performances are Fridays at 7:30 p.m. at the Frauenthal Center in downtown Muskegon. Tickets can be purchased by calling the WMS ticket office at 231.726.3231 x223, in person at 360 W. Western Avenue, online at www.westmichigansymphony.org or at firstname.lastname@example.org.