Connoisseurs of classical music widely consider the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra to be among most accomplished community orchestras in New England. Attracting top talent in its long history – Yo Yo Ma, ltzhak Pearlman, and Emanuel Ax have all performed with the orchestra – the program continues to draw crowds with both up-and-coming and world-renowned talent and respected approach to performing classic pieces. On October 19, they will open their 74th season with a performance that celebrates the work of composer Gustav Mahler as they endeavor to undertake his Symphony 1.
The Norwalk Symphony will present the piece in a way that enlightens the audience about the great work and that respects the incredible creativity of its composition. In the first half, “MAHLER 1 IMMERSION”, Music Director, Jonathan Yates, will lead the audience through the genesis of this magical work by utilizing both the Norwalk Symphony and a wide cast of remarkable musicians from throughout the community. Mahler borrows a funeral march from Donizetti’s Dom Sebastien; choristers from Staples High School, Norwalk Community College, and members of the New Canaan High School band will perform alongside the NSO, marching as the mourners from the opera. Renowned clarinetist Margot Leverett will perform excerpts of the Klezmer-infused music from the symphony, as well as a Klezmer concerto written for her and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The young musicians from TESS Suzuki School and Fairfield County Children’s Choir will perform Frère Jacques, face-painted as the animals from the woodcut that inspired Mahler to use it. Soprano Amelia Watkins will sing Mahler’s earlier Songs of a Wayfarer that he incorporated into the symphony, followed by an exhilarating performance of the great symphony itself.
In December, the NSO will present Messiah Sing Along and Holiday Extravaganza that includes many of the season’s holiday classics. Members of the Serendipity Chorale and the New Canaan High School Chorus will be featured as leaders of the choir to ensure the highest level of music making. Four soloists with sparkling international careers (Amelia Watkins, Leanne Gonzalez-Singer, Thomas Young, and Michael Rice) will sing the famous arias. After the Messiah, the concert will become even more festive, with the choir from Pivot Ministries singing gospel music, and the entire concert will end with the all of the choruses, soloists and audience members singing holiday songs with the orchestra.
The season will also include a Family Concert in March. In May, Yates will lead a performance of Bizet’s extraordinary opera, Carmen. The stellar cast will be led by Audrey Babcock as Carmen and Brian Cheney as Don José, both of whom have sung all over the world to wide acclaim. The performance will be incredibly vivid; there will be over two hundred choristers from the Mendelssohn Choir and Fairfield Children’s Choir, singing on the stage and in the aisles– all attired as characters from the opera– even the orchestra will be dressed festively and involved in the choreography of the work.
All performances are held at the Norwalk Concert Hall, 125 East Avenue. Ticket prices range from $5.00 for students to $40.00 for prime seats. Subscription packages are also available. Visit www.norwalksymphony.org for tickets and further information.