Around Town: Asheville Symphony embraces pop

ROAD SHOW: Hannah Zazzaro will be the featured vocalist when the Asheville Symphony's chamber orchestra performs at Highland Brewing Co.'s event center on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Photo by Peter Vann

Some people like to listen to works by Mozart; others prefer the sounds of Freddie Mercury and Queen. And that’s perfectly OK with Daniel Crupi, executive director of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra.

“Not everything needs to be a funnel to our classical series,” he says. “My hope is to show people that the Asheville Symphony can represent both of these musical traditions and that no matter where or when they attend an ASO performance, it will be an inspiring artistic experience.”

To that end, the symphony is launching its ALT ASO flexible chamber series, which will take the orchestra on the road to various locations, starting with Highland Brewing Co. on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. Though the inaugural performance has already sold out, future concerts are scheduled for The Orange Peel on April 26 and the Asheville Art Museum on June 21.

“I am very interested in creating artistic experiences that are authentic to Asheville itself, and Highland Brewing, The Orange Peel and the Asheville Art Museum are about as unique and local as you get,” Crupi says.

The inaugural Jan. 25 event will feature a chamber orchestra and vocalist Hannah Zazzaro performing the music of Giuseppe Verdi, Georges Bizet, Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Queen and some surprises to be announced from the stage.

“Asheville already has several outstanding chamber music organizations in Pan Harmonia and the Asheville Chamber Music Series — we are not trying to duplicate their efforts through the ALT ASO series,” Crupi says. “Instead, my goal is to fill a niche that did not already exist: chamber orchestra-sized ensembles of 20-25 players, plus conductor and soloist, in unique venues.”

For more information on the series, visit

Health and history

The Western North Carolina Historical Association will present a Zoom panel, “Vaccines and Public Health in Western North Carolina: Past and Present,” on Thursday, Jan. 20, 6-8 p.m.

Three historians will discuss past pandemics and public health crises, including smallpox, polio and the 1918 flu, in Western North Carolina and Appalachia. The speakers include David Cockrell, instructor of history at Guilford Technical Community College; Patricia Bernard Ezzell, senior program manager in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s human resources and communications division; and Richard Eller, instructor of history at Catawba Valley Community College.

Also on the panel will be Maryam Ahmed, professor of biology at Appalachian State University, and Michael Opata, assistant professor of biology at Appalachian State University. The two will address COVID-19, vaccines and responses to the pandemic.

The event is free and open to the public, but donations are accepted. Registration is required. To register or get more information, visit

The trying game

Isis Music Hall will host an album release party for Jordan Scheffer’s Until We Try on Friday, Jan. 21, at 8:30 p.m. Scheffer will perform along with Kinobe, a Ugandan multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer.

Scheffer, an Asheville native and UNC Asheville student, is a vocalist, percussionist, pianist and writer who combines American roots, West African and Afro Caribbean funk rhythms in her music. She won the 2017 Blind Idol talent competition in Raleigh at age 18.

Until We Try is a collection of covers, including multiple Bob Marley numbers and several songs by Nigerian/French artist Aṣa.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Mind over matter

Mentalist Jonathan Pritchard will present his Asheville Mind Reading Show at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m.

“The 70-minute theatrical ‘mind reading’ experience explores the power of human imagination and shows you what lives beyond the impossible,” states a press release from the Wortham Center. “It is a mixture of applied psychology, showmanship, comedy and moxie.”

Pritchard, a Marion native, has performed for Fortune 500 companies and has done thousands of shows at Universal Studios in Orlando and the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. He also appeared on “America’s Got Talent.”

For more information or to buy tickets, visit

Candlemas concert

Fiddle player and jazz musician Andrew Finn Magill will be the featured artist for the 2022 Candlemas concert taking place at St. James Episcopal Church in Hendersonville on Sunday, Jan. 30, at 4 p.m.

The concert event, now in its 32nd year, will raise funds for three local organizations working to alleviate hunger in Henderson County: Interfaith Assistance Ministry, the Hendersonville Rescue Mission and The Storehouse.

The yearly benefit concert, presented by the St. James Outreach Commission, celebrates the ancient Christian holiday of Candlemas, commemorating Mary’s return to the temple at Jerusalem to present her son to God.

St. James Episcopal Church is at 776 N. Main St., Hendersonville. Tickets are $25 each. To purchase tickets online, go to

The best medicine

Slice of Life Comedy Open Mic Night at Pulp Lounge, located in the basement of The Orange Peel, will feature a performance by Asheville comedian Morgan Bost on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for members/$10 for new members.

Then on Thursday, Jan. 27, at 7:30 p.m., Slice of Life Comedy returns to the game room at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co., 675 Merrimon Ave. Hosted by Ryan Cox, the event will feature Moira Goree, Jess Cooley, Katy Hudson and John Hawley. Tickets are $12 ($10 for locals).

Pulp Lounge is at 103 Hilliard Ave. To purchase tickets for the Jan. 20 show, visit To purchase tickets for the Jan. 27 event, go to

Museum acquires artworks

ACRYLIC ART: “Resilient Times,” a 2021 piece by artist Christopher McCoy, was among 25 artworks recently acquired by the Asheville Art Museum. McCoy is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Photo courtesy of the Asheville Art Museum

The Asheville Art Museum recently acquired 25 new artworks for its collection, including 14 by Cherokee Nation or Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians artists who were not previously represented at the museum. The works also feature nationally recognized artists. All acquisitions were created in the 20th and 21st centuries.

“These artworks contribute directly to the museum’s commitment to collecting from and supporting contemporary Indigenous artists, especially those with connections to the unceded land upon which the museum sits,” the museum says in a statement.

John Henry Gloyne, Christopher McCoy, Tara McCoy, Rhiannon Skye Tafoya, Jakeli Swimmer and Alica Murphy Wildcatt of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Jeff Edwards, Kenny Glass and Jennie Wilson of the Cherokee Nation are among some of the artists featured in the new acquisition.


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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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One thought on “Around Town: Asheville Symphony embraces pop

  1. Curious

    What’s going to happen with Asheville Amadeus, the ambitious music festival the Asheville Symphony inaugurated until the previous management?

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