Williamsport Symphony Orchestra sets impressive lineup for new season

For decades, the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra has been bringing high-quality symphonic music to the area with performances that are as powerful as they are impressive. Viewing itself as a cultural asset to the community, the orchestra strives to make each one of its shows a memorable experience for all those in attendance, while finding innovative ways to attract new members to its ever-growing fanbase.

That will continue in the orchestra’s upcoming 2018-19 season, which kicks off this October, as the WSO has slated five performances that are sure to get local symphony lovers excited.

“We have worked hard with he artistic advisory committee to put together a season that will be appealing to people from all ages and backgrounds,” said WSO music director and conductor Gerardo Edelstein.

Traditionally, the WSO plays three classically-oriented shows, one holiday concert and one pops performance each season. It is up to Edelstein to review what works the orchestra has performed over the last decade to avoid repetition, and then he puts together several programs for the artistic advisory committee — comprised of musicians, board members and community members — to weigh in on.

“My responsibility is to gather all the information and finalize the programs that will be performed during the season, after getting the committee’s approval,” said Edelstein.

The first performance of the new season, “Passion and Nature,” will be held on Oct. 16. The show, which will start with Rossini’s witty overture “L’Italiana in Algeri,” will also feature Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35” and Brahms’ “Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op 73.” Guest violinist Caroline Goulding will sit in during the performance.

“Often times called his ‘Pastoral’ symphony, we can hear Brahms at the height of his compositional style with delicate melodies, lush harmonies and subtle syncopations,” Edelstein said, explaining why the WSO chose “Passion and Nature” to kick-off its season with. “Tchaikovsky wrote only one violin concerto and he made sure to exhaust most of the instrument’s performing techniques. He came up with an exhilarating piece, testing every violin virtuoso and orchestra.”

Following “Passion and Nature,” the WSO’s next scheduled performance will come on Dec. 15 for its “Holiday Gathering” show, which will feature the works of Bach, Vivaldi, Monti, Tchaikovsky, Naomi Shemer and Leroy Anderson. With help from the Williamsport Chamber Choir and The Revamped Duo, it is a show that is certain to impress all those in attendance.

From there, the orchestra will put on its “The Great B’s” performance on Feb. 12. The aptly-named show will see the WSO play the works of Beethoven, Barber, Borodin and Bruckner; and the orchestra will be joined by the Williamsport Civic Chorus during its rendition of Bruckner’s “Te Deum.”

On March 16, the WSO will be joined by the Williamsport Symphony Youth Orchestra for its “Rock Meets Celtic” performance. The show will bring modern rock music into the mix by featuring songs from Queen, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and other legendary rock groups.

“Since I have been music director, we have tried to attract new audiences by performing some concerts that are out of the norm or tradition (for an orchestra),” said Edelstein. “Our goal is to make the symphony accessible to everyone and to eliminate the label that symphonies are too stuffy and for old people and the elite.

“After they listen to a pock/rock or movie concert with the symphony, we hope they will try one of our classical concerts, too,” he added. “Playing with WSYO is always a fun thing to do and it is a great experience for the young students to have the chance to perform along with the professional musicians.”

The WSO will conclude its season on May 14 with “Gerardo & Roberto Meet Again,” wherein the WSO will be joined by accomplished guest pianist Roberto Plano. The show will see the orchestra break out classics from Smetana, Grieg and Stravinsky.

“I love every program and every piece we have selected,” said Edelstein. “I could not perform a piece I don’t feel extremely excited and attached to.”