“The Inspirational Power of Symphonic Music” — PBSO sets concerts for 26th season

The Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra will present three concerts during its 26th season, “The Inspirational Power of Symphonic Music”.

All three concerts for the 2012-13 season will be held in the Pine Bluff Convention Center’s auditorium. This marks the 20th year that Charles Jones Evans will serve as the conductor.

This season’s performances will include:

The season will kick off with “Masterpieces through the Ages” at 4 p.m. Oct. 14. The public is invited to come and experience the world of live symphonic music at its most exciting with a program of some of the best-known orchestral classics from Georg Friderich Handel’s Baroque classic Water Music Suite No. 2 to Russian Romantic Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s homage to the Pre-Classical Period in his Variations on a Rococo Theme, featuring Arkansas Symphony principal cellist David Gerstein; the rugged, folk-based Czech Suite by Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorák; and the lush harmonies and vivid instrumental colors of 20th-century French composer Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin.

Gerstein, a devoted performer of chamber and contemporary music has played concerts all over the world, from the stage of Carnegie Hall to the Great Wall of China. He is currently the principal cellist of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which he has been a member of since September 2008. He is also the cellist of the Quapaw String Quartet, which performs regularly at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock as well as in schools all over the state as part of the ASO’s Arts Partner program.

Gerstein has participated in the prestigious New York String Orchestra Seminar in New York City, presenting concerts in Carnegie Hall under the direction of Jaime Laredo. He was a founding member of the Cape Cod Ensemble, a consistently multi-faceted chamber ensemble. CCE was invited to attend the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition as semi-finalists. In the summer of 2009, CCE performed concerts in Little Rock and Ashland, Ore.

Home for the Holidays: Music of the Season” will be held at 4 p.m. Dec. 9. Music is an integral part of the symphony’s holiday traditions. The holiday spectacular will include an entertaining variety of seasonal favorites such as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Handel’s Messiah excerpts, popular Christmas and Hanukah selections, and the annual Christmas carol sing-along. Special guests include the Arkansas Festival Ballet, the Episcopal Collegiate School Steel Drum Band, and Pine Bluff native Eleanor Pearl, soprano.

Pearl will be performing the role of the Goddess Diane in Offenbach’s opera “Orphee aux enfers” this spring at Manhattan School of Music, followed by her senior recital. She made her operatic debut as Angelica in Handel’s “Orlando” last summer, in Siena, Italy. She began performing solos with the Pine Bluff Symphony in Arkansas at age 18, singing repertoire by composers ranging from Victor Herbert, to Franck, and Puccini. She received much of her original musical training singing in choirs such at the UALR’s Community Chorus, where they performed the works of Mozart to John Rutter. In 2010 she received the Young Art’s Honorable Mention Award, which placed her in the top 5 percent of 18-year-old singers in the nation. She has given numerous recitals, from churches, halls, salons, to private residences in Arkansas, Miami, and New York, and loves the intimacy created in recitals and connecting with audiences. Pearl is a current student of Mark Oswald, at the Manhattan School of Music, but she will always give credit to her first maestro, Faron Wilson of Pine Bluff.

The third and final concert, “Classics in the Popular Vein”, will be presented at 7 p.m.March 2. Attendees to this concert will experience the wide spectrum of popular influences on symphonic music throughout history, from Mozart’s use of Turkish military percussion in The Abduction from the Seraglio Overture to the incorporation of native popular melody and harmony in Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and African-American William Grant Still’s Wood Notes, as well as the jazzy and lighthearted cinematic style of Swedish composer Lille Bror Söderlundh’s Oboe Concertino, featuring PBSO principal oboist, Lorraine Duso Kitts. Plus, enjoy one of the finest examples of the popular waltz idiom elevated to concert hall grandeur – the Emperor Waltzes of Johann Strauss Jr. – and a classic operatic overture that has become a popular icon – Gioacchino Rossini’s famous William Tell Overture.

Kitt is an associate professor at the University of Central Arkansas teaching double reeds and adjunct oboe instructor at Hendrix College. She received her bachelor of music degree at Indiana University, her master of music degree from Manhattan School of Music and her doctorate of musical arts degree from the University of Michigan. Her teachers include Jerry Sirucek, Joseph Robinson, Tom Stacy and Harry Sargous.

As a soloist she has performedwith the Fuzhou Philharmonic Orchestra in Fuzhou, China, and the Little Rock Wind Symphony. She spends her summers in Sidney, Maine teaching oboe at the New England Music Camp, a seven-week summer program for junior and high school students.

Preferred seating season tickets are $75 for adults and $15 for students. General seating season tickets are $62 for adults and $10 for students. Student tickets are for students in K-12th grades. Everyone is required to have a ticket. Tickets will also be available at the door for each performance.

All season tickets are half-price for first-time season ticket buyers. A family season ticket is also available for $165 and includes two adults and two or more students under 18 years of age.

Additional information is available by calling the symphony office at 870-536-7666 or by visiting the website at pinebluffsymphony.com