Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Park

In celebration of its 50th anniversary — that's the golden anniversary, in case anyone's thinking of sending gifts — the Asheville Symphony Orchestra takes its oboes, timpani, English horns, violas, piccolos, etc. out of the concert hall and into the park. The newly dedicated Pack Square Park, to be exact, and the concert (free to attend) will take place on the new Bascom Lamar Lunsford stage.

The concert comes as the cap to a weekend filled with free music: Shindig On the Green wraps on Saturday, LAAFF takes over Lexington Avenue on Sunday and the Symphony concert rounds out the offerings with classical music to chase the old-time, indie, world and eclectic sounds.

Worth noting: Classical music, though foreign to some listeners, is not at all new to Asheville. In fact, before the Asheville Symphony Orchestra was incorporated in 1960, there was still a dedicated classical music group. The Asheville Little Symphony was made up of volunteers in the late 1950s, the Asheville Civic Orchestra met for weekly rehearsals at First Presbyterian Church during the mid-1950s and, as far back as 1927, Mars Hill College and Juilliard grad Lamar Stringfield formed the first Asheville Symphony Orchestra, which performed for three summers.

But the local symphony, as we know it, made great strides during the 1980s and 90s under the direction of Robert Hart Baker. Guests like Itzhak Perlman, Daniel Schorr and Leontyne Price were invited to perform in Asheville and then-rising stars like Noah Bendix-Balgley were discovered.

Current Musical Director and Conductor Daniel Meyer, appointed to his position in 2004, reinvigorated the orchestra with innovative, collaborative programs and community outreach. Highlights for the upcoming season — which launches Sept. 18 — include a new production of Mendelssohn’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” with the N.C. Stage Company and a new children’s concert based on Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

But first, the Symphony in the Park Labor Day concert. Here's what's on the bill: Classics and highlights from the upcoming 50th Anniversary Season including Rossini's finale to the “William Tell Overture,” Bizet's suite from Carmen and selections from Rodgers and Hammerstein, John Williams and John Phillip Sousa.

Monday, Sept. 6, 7 p.m. Lawn seating is free, reserved seating is $20, $50 includes the seat and pre-concert reception. Info: 254-7046 or ashevillesymphony.org.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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