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Williamsport Symphony Orchestra's 'Epic' new season begins

September 23, 2012
By MATTHEW PARRISH ( , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Sometimes great titles can be won through long hours of hard work, studying and brainstorming.

And other times, they can just be overheard.

After the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra's Artistic Advisory Committee, which consists of the Orchestra's musicians, board members and community members, had organized the season - arranging concerts that had a wide range of elements and broad appeal - Conductor Gerardo Edelstein heard someone say, "This is going to be an epic season."

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"I said, 'That's it! That's the name. It's going to be 'Epic,' " he said.

Edelstein said that since last season ended with Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1, a grand piece that encompassed many emotions and was written for 100 performers, he wanted this year's lineup to carry that "heroic" spirit.

"[This season's] going to be epic because of the music and the forces we will be bringing, showcasing the musicians of the community," he said. "It should be a very, very exciting, attractive season."

The first concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 and will feature a collaboration with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale.

"When I came on board to the Symphony, there were a few members of the choir in the orchestra who made a comment that the best choir in the area is the SVC and that we should do a collaboration," Edelstein said.

After listening to some tapes of the group performing, he decided to invite SVC music director William Payn to do a concert with the WSO.

"He's the one who will conduct the second half of the program," Edelstein said. "He will conduct 'Dona Nobis Pacem,' which means 'grant us peace.' It's a wonderful way to start the season."

The piece was written in 1936, right before World War II.

"In a way, it prophesized what was to come," he said. "The composer saw where the world was going. His fears were justified. We had a terrible war after."

The first part of the program will feature songs that showcase each section of the orchestra, "... the brass and percussion in 'Fanfare for the Common Man' by Aaron Copland, the woodwinds in 'Serenade for Winds' by Richard Strauss and the strings in 'Don't Tread on Me' by Russell Peck,' " Edelstein said. "Then we'll finish with 'Festive Overature' by Dmitri Shostakovich, which we'll all play together," according to Edelstein.

The second concert in the season, "Time to Rejoice," which will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18, will be a "semi-staged production" of an opera.

"The holiday program will feature an opera by Menotti, 'Ahmal and the Night Visitors,' " Edelstein said. "Rob Steele will collaborate with us - we'll have costumes, soloists and a choir, all local performers."

The 2013 concerts will be "Music of the Spheres," Feb. 12, "Let's Rock!," March 16, and "Symphonie Fantastique," May 7.

The Symphony has done rock collaborations before - last summer, it performed with classic rock band Kansas. Edelstein said that they like to do these types of shows because it "attracts new audiences."

"We like to present something that younger people are more familiar with," he said. "We will be working with a group that will play Hendrix, Santana and Led Zeppelin - bands and songs that younger audiences or middle-aged people that don't come to classical concerts will recognize."

Two international soloists will be featured in each of the other two shows, Pamela Stahel from Zurich, Switzerland, will perform "Concerto for Flute and Harp" by Mozart for "Music of the Spheres," and Alexander Schimpf, a German pianist who won last year's Cleveland International Piano Competition, will play "Concerto No. 4" by Beethoven, for "Symphonie Fantastique."

Edelstein said that despite all the technological innovations that have happened in the last few decades, "there's still nothing comparable to live music."

"You can listen with the best audio equipment in the world and you never get the same experience than when you go to a concert hall and sit in front of a live performance," he said. "Young people, unplug your ears, take off your headphones and come listen to the Symphony."

For more information about the WSO, email info@williamsport, call 322-0227 or visit



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