September 11, 2018 10:26:55 AM
The Starkville/MSU Symphony kicks off its landmark 50th season Saturday with an opening "Milestones" concert at 7:30 p.m. at Rent Auditorium on the Mississippi University for Women campus in Columbus. Admission is free.
Performed by the Symphony Orchestra, the opening concert is an annual ongoing partnership between Starkville/MSU Symphony and MUW, bringing world-class, locally performed classical music to a broader Golden Triangle audience.
"We are proud to partner with MUW in presenting one of our concerts each year," said Eric Hill, Starkville/MSU Symphony Association (SMSA) 2018 board president. "Both the orchestra and chorus include musicians from around the Golden Triangle, so it's only fitting that we begin this important 50th year celebrating with classical music lovers from across the region."
The concert includes a repertoire of works that were important milestones for their composers, reflecting this unique anniversary for SMSA. It features works produced by Giuseppe Verdi, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Pyotr Tchaikovsky -- all pieces created at a turning point or pinnacle of each composer's career.
The orchestra will perform Verdi's "Nabucco Overture," "Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1" by Williams and Tchaikovsky's "Sixth Symphony."
In conjunction with the launch of the 50th season, the symphony has also embarked on a dynamic rebranding effort, which includes a new logo, social media channels and a revamped membership structure.
"Starkville actually has the distinction of being one of the smallest communities in the nation to sustain a symphony for 50 years," Hill said. "It's really a testament to our community's commitment to exceptional music. The work of the symphony is completely community grown, and our board wanted to celebrate that."
The Starkville/MSU Symphony Association was established on March 2, 1969. Under its leadership, the symphony's program of work has grown to support the community orchestra, chorus and its yearly education initiative, Programs for Children. With the goal of introducing the vibrant classical music genre to an audience reflecting the entire Starkville and surrounding community, every concert has remained free to the public throughout the entire 50-year history.
"Most symphony organizations charge admission for their concerts," Hill added. "But our founders and board volunteers through the years have felt strongly that free concerts would allow a broader audience to develop a love for classical music and a commitment to impacting our community through the symphony experience."
More this season
The symphony will present a slate of seven concerts this season, showcasing the Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, along with guest musicians.
"Jazz at Renasant," the annual outdoor concert and crowd favorite, is scheduled for Oct. 9 and will feature the Symphony Jazz Combo. Additional concerts will feature patriotic music, works from Mississippi natives, epic movie themes and even a few selections from the Beatles.
The centerpiece of the 50th season will be the "Masterworks" concert in March, which will include a rare live performance of one of Beethoven's most popular works, the "Ninth Symphony."
The season will also see updates to the symphony's traditional concert experience, as well as its sponsorship opportunities. While concerts will always remain free, SMSA has plans to implement a value-added "premium" ticket option which will include benefits like reserved seating, valet parking and even special pre- or post-concert experiences designed to offer interaction with Symphony Conductor Barry Kopetz and lead musicians.
"The community has supported the symphony for half a century now, and the association looks forward to offering our patrons these opportunities that we hope will really enhance their experience," Hill said.
"It's not every day that a true community grown organization turns 50," Hill added. "This season will definitely be one to celebrate."
For more information, visit starkvillesymphony.org, or connect on social media at facebook.com/starkvillesymphony or twitter.com/stksymphony.
If you go:
WHAT: Starkville/MSU Symphony concert
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Whitfield Hall, Rent Auditorium, The W