If you’re already a fan of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, I don’t need to tell you the next season will be full of memorable performances you won’t want to miss.
But if you’re new on the scene, then you have a bit of catching up to do. Whatever happens, there’s no need to feel intimidated by or excluded from the symphony. The upcoming season has something for everyone. Classics from the Masterworks series, nostalgic songs in the Pops series, and special events will take place throughout the year.
To give you context and a deeper appreciation for the symphony, I wanted this article to be more than a bland list of song titles and composers slated for the upcoming season. Here’s a taste of what’s to come: 11 interesting facts you’ll have learned about the Austin Symphony Orchestra by its 108th season finale.
1/ Oldest Performing Arts Group in Austin
Celebrating its 108th season, the Austin Symphony Orchestra is the oldest performing arts group in Austin. If that’s not enough, you’ll be happy to know it is also the oldest, continuously-performing orchestra in all of Texas (and that means something in a state this large).
2/ Prolific Maestro
Maestro Peter Bay will be entering his 21st season with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. He is the primary conductor for symphony performances with the breathtaking Ballet Austin and has also worked with the Austin Opera. Throughout his career, Bay has appeared with 75 different orchestras.
3/ Leonard Bernstein Turns 100
The second Masterworks show of the season will celebrate what would’ve been Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday! Bernstein was a composer, conductor, pianist, humanitarian, and inspiration to many in the world of classical music. He was one of the first U.S. born and raised conductors to receive world acclaim.
Bernstein’s connection to the Austin Symphony Orchestra? He was mentor to Maestro Peter Bay. Talk about having a legendary mentor.
4/ July 4th to Remember
You know that big Fourth of July concert and fireworks show that takes place every year down by Lady Bird Lake? The concert is entirely planned, produced, and performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra. No big deal. (Note: definitely a big deal–they even have fireworks.)
5/ Two Hands to Watch
Pianist Leon Fleisher will perform with the Austin Symphony Orchestra at the fourth Masterworks show. This world-renowned American pianist and conductor was struck with a neurological affliction at age 36 that rendered two fingers on his right hand immobile.
After experimental treatments in the mid-’90s, Fleisher became able to perform with both of his hands again. He became the subject of the 2006 Oscar- and Emmy-nominated film, “Two Hands.”
Now 89, Fleisher has never given up his art.
6/ Community Education for Youth
While the Austin Symphony Orchestra is all about amazing musical performances, members of the organization also take the time to reach out to today’s youth through education programs. Considering they’ve reached over 60,000 children through these programs, I’d say they’re doing a pretty great job.
7/ Classic Girl Power
Check out the sixth show in the Masterworks series to celebrate some ridiculously talented female composers. Guest pianist Michelle Schumann and string-band Time for Three will be performing.
There’s another reason why this performance will be so special. Charles Yang, member of Time for Three, is both a local YouTube sensation and a son to one of the women in the Austin Symphony Orchestra. In fact, he began his violin studies with her. Like mother, like son.
8/ This Violin Is 283-Years-Old
If you’re obsessed with the violin or any other string instrument like I am, then you can stop in the lobby before each Masterworks performance to learn how to play string instruments with Violins Etc.
Speaking of beautiful string instruments, guest violinist William Hagen will be playing on the 1735 “Sennhauser” Guarneri del Gesù, on generous loan from the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
9/ Symphony and Shakespeare
Chorus Austin, one of the oldest continuously-performing music organizations in Austin, will join the Austin Symphony for its season finale, bringing Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “Henry V” to life through song. Sounds like there’s no family feuds getting in the way of these performances.
10/ Pops Film Series
The Austin Symphony Orchestra knows Austin has its fair share of musical lovers. That’s why the group will be screening not one, but two films, for its Pops series. In this series, the orchestra play the score live! Watch “The Wizard of Oz” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” and get ready to sing to your heart’s delight.
11/ Enjoy the Austin Symphony Orchestra for Free
On a budget? Half of the season’s concerts will be free, so you can enjoy a musical performance and visit your favorite local food truck, without having to choose which one you want more.
If you’re interested in learning more about the shows next season, check out the Austin Symphony Orchestra website.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Which performances are you dying to see during the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming season?