Arts & Entertainment

Symphony kicks off season Oct. 25 with new leader at helm

Newly appointed conductor Nicholas Wallin will lead the Mid-Columbia Symphony into its 2008-09 season with a lively concert featuring the music of George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber and Charles Ives.

Concert time is 8 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

Former Tri-Citian soprano Kari Ragan will be the guest soloist as she performs with the symphony in Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, which is a richly textured work taken from writer James Agee's short story Knoxville. The composer took musical liberty with the story about a simple, dreamlike depiction of an evening in the American South. The story is narrated by a child who appears to transform into an adult. Both roles will be sung by Ragan.

Ragan is a Richland High graduate who now lives in the Seattle area. She sings professionally with opera companies and symphonies across the country and also teaches private voice lessons.

The concert also includes Gershwin's Three Preludes for Piano. The preludes are scored for trumpet, saxophone and strings.

Ives' variation on America was composed for an organ back in the late 1800s when the maestro still was a teenager. It wasn't until the next century that William Schuman arranged America for an entire orchestra.

Copland's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes will be familiar to audiences. The music became a staple for promoting beef and was used on all those TV commercials where the sexy voice of Sam Elliott says, "Beef. It's what's for dinner."

Here's a look at the rest of the regular season:

-- Jan. 31: Celebrate Romance features Felix Mendelssohn's The Herbrides: Overture, Maxwell Davies' An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise, featuring a guest bagpipe soloist; and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture.

-- March 21: Celebrate Youth features the music of Mozart's Symphony No. 10 in G Minor, Maurice Ravel's Mother Goose Suite and excerpts from Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. This concert also showcases the overall winners of the 2009 Young Artists Competition.

-- May 9: Celebrate the Season features the music of Alexander Glazunov's The Seasons: Spring, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons: Spring & Summer and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.

All the concerts start at 8 p.m. at the convention center. Season tickets are from $100 to $140 with individual tickets ranging from $25 to $35.

Though not part of the regular season, the Mid-Columbia Symphony also will present a holiday concert, Celebrate Christmas, on Nov. 30 starting at 3 p.m. Tickets to this concert cost $15 for adults and $10 for ages 5-18. A family of four is $40.

Tickets are available at the symphony office, 716 Jadwin Ave., Richland, or at the Toyota Center box office.

For more information, go to www.midcolumbiasymphony.org or call 943-6602.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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