Symphony plans busy season in, out of Capitol

WHEELING – Setting the stage for interior renovations planned at the Capitol Theatre this summer, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra has adopted the motto, “Take Your Seat,” for its 2013-14 season.

During a press conference Wednesday night at the downtown theater, WSO Music Director Andre Raphel announced the line-up for the upcoming season, which includes seven concerts, three free outdoor events and the world premiere of a fanfare-overture to celebrate West Virginia’s sesquicentennial on June 20.

“The 2013-14 season features great music from the traditional repertoire that represents various countries around the world,” Raphel said.

Represented are works by composers from the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Russia, Israel, Austria and England. Highlights of the season include a celebration of the Verdi bicentennial and a British festival focusing on the music of Benjamin Britten and Sir Edward Elgar.

“I’m very happy to welcome back dynamic soloists such as Benjamin Hochman and Tim Fain. The opening of the pops series is bound to be thrilling with Cirque de la Symphonie. The pops series also features an evening of Gershwin and the music of ABBA,” Raphel said. “It’s a season of memorable music.”

The symphony’s 84th season consists of four Masterworks performances and three pops concerts to be presented at the Capitol Theatre at 8 p.m. on Fridays. The orchestra offers two free concerts: the traditional July 4 event at Heritage Port and a Music Under the Stars concert at Oglebay Park Sept. 1.

In addition, the orchestra celebrates the sesquicentennial of the state with a free concert at Heritage Port June 20. The concert includes the world premiere of Kenneth Fuchs’ “Forever Free, a Fanfare-Overture for West Virginia,” commissioned by the Wheeling Symphony.

The concert also features performances by West Virginia natives: mandolin player Johnny Staats, Grammy-winning singer Kathy Mattea and “America’s Got Talent” winner Landau Eugene Murphy.

The symphony’s season opens Sept. 27 with a Masterworks program featuring Czech music. Pianist Benjamin Hochman returns to play Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1. The concert begins with Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride” overture and ends with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8.

A Nov. 8 Masterworks concert celebrates the Verdi bicentennial with opera overtures. Classical guitarist Ana Vidovic performs Concerto No. 1 by 20th-century composer Castelnuovo-Tedesco. The concert finale is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (Pathetique).

Wheeling Symphony soloists are at the center of the third Masterworks concert March 14, when concertmaster Rachel Stegeman performs Vivaldi’s “Winter” (from “The Four Seasons”) and John Winkler, principal trumpet, plays Haydn’s Concerto for Trumpet.

A festival of English music, featuring Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” and pieces by Britten and Delius, is set for the final Masterworks concert May 16, 2014. Violinist Tim Fain performs Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

The pops season opens Oct. 11 with the return of the popular Cirque de la Symphonie and its company of aerial artists, acrobats, jugglers, strongmen and clowns performing amazing feats choreographed to classical and contemporary “musical gems.”

“Rhapsody’ n Brew” is the theme for the Feb. 21 pops concert with guest conductor Daniel Meyer and Wheeling native Nathan Strasser, pianist, and residents artists of the Pittsburgh Opera presenting music of Gershwin. A pre-concert beer tasting is on tap.

The pops series concludes April 18 with “Dancing Queen: The Music of ABBA,” with vocalists Katalin Kiss, Andrea Koziol, Stephanie Martin and Lis Soderberg of Jeans ‘n Classics.

The WSO also will present its annual Young People’s Concerts during the season. The College Concert Series continues with support from Wheeling Jesuit University.

For more information on the new season or to subscribe, call the Wheeling Symphony office, 304-232-6191.