Monday, March 29, 2010

Athens Symphony Takes The Fifth

The Athens Symphony will present its annual Spring Concert Saturday, 03 April, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. at the Classic Center. As a special twist to the annual concert, Conductor Albert F. Ligotti has put together the most famed movements from among the most famed fifth symphonies in the Classical repertoire.

In addition, Ligotti has selected soloists from within the symphony to feature in the program’s second half. Principal oboist Barbara Spurgeon and principal clarinetist Thomas Cooper will take front stage for Domenico Cimarosa’s Concerto for Oboe & Strings and Carl Maria von Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet, Op. 26. Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s Intermezzo from “Jewels of the Madonna” and Mikhail Glinka’s “Summer Night in Madrid” will round out the program’s second half.

“I wanted to offer our audiences something different than the standard concert format we always present,” said Ligotti. “Number five has always been my favorite number, and so many great composers’ fifth symphonies have turned out to be their masterpieces.”

The Perfect Fifth

The Athens Symphony will present a new fifth symphony, comprised of the first, second, third and fourth movements of various symphonies numbered five from history’s greatest composers. As an opener, Ligotti has selected the most famous first movement among both fifth symphonies and all of classical literature-that from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor. Listeners are sure to recognize the four notes of the dramatic fortissimo opening motif.

The thundering first movement will give way to a quieter drama in the opening of the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor. The symphony’s theme, representing Providence and victory through strife, is introduced in this movement by the horn section. John Denver fans take note-this horn theme is said to be his inspiration for “Annie’s Song.”

For the symphony’s third movement, the Minuet and Trio from Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B flat major will add traditional Classical form with a special twist of lyricism and spontaneous melody.

“We end the first half with the wonderful 4th movement of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 5 in F major. This exciting medley of movements, perhaps combined in this order for the first time, is certain to make for an interesting concert,” Ligotti noted.

Featured Soloists

In the program’s second half, the Symphony’s principal oboist, Barbara Spurgeion, will join the orchestra in presenting the Concerto for Oboe & Strings by Domenico Cimarosa. Spurgeion received her Bachelor of Music in music performance from Georgia Southern University in 1986, her Masters in Education from Georgia Southern University in 1988, and her Doctorate in Music Education from the University of Georgia in 1998. A member of the Athens Symphony for 18 years, Spurgeion began her oboe studies at the age of 10 and now passes her love of music on to students as band director at Monroe Elementary School in Monroe, Georgia.

Thomas Cooper, principal clarinetist of the orchestra, will be the featured soloist as the symphony performs Carl Maria von Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet, Op. 26. Since first picking up the instrument at age 11, Cooper went on to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, and the Bayerisches Staatskonservatorium der Musik in W├╝rzburg, Germany. Cooper retired from the University of Georgia in 2006, where he taught German and foreign language education, but continues to perform with the Athens Symphony--of which he is a charter member.

Admission to the Spring concert is free but tickets are required for entry, and are currently available for pick up at the Classic Center Theatre Box. Tickets are provided on a first come, first served basis, so patrons are encouraged to secure theirs as early as possible.

Athens Symphony Chorus Ready to Pop

This May, the Athens Symphony Chorus will again join the Athens Symphony Orchestra in presenting their annual Pops concerts. The chorus is seeking singers of every voice type to join rehearsals this April, where they will begin preparing favorite selections from musical theatre including the music of MGM and a celebration of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Sopranos, altos, tenors and basses of any level are invited to join the chorus with no audition required. Singers need only be over the age of 18 and able to read music.

Chorus rehearsals begin Sunday, April 11 at 2:30 p.m. at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church. A full schedule of chorus rehearsals may be found on the symphony’s Facebook page under Athens Symphony Orchestra. Interested parties may contact, call 706-425-4205, or visit for more information.

About the Athens Symphony

The Athens Symphony was founded in the summer of 1978, when a group of local musicians convened following a survey by the Clarke County Office of Cultural Affairs that determined a strong desire within the community for a symphony orchestra. Early on, it was decided that the orchestra should be a not-for-profit organization, that its members should be unpaid volunteers from Athens and the surrounding communities, and that its concerts should be both free of charge and appealing to general audiences. Al Ligotti was immediately identified as the ideal conductor due to his wealth of musical experience, enthusiasm and high musicianship, and continues to lead the orchestra as it embarks on its 32nd season.

The non-profit organization operates through the generosity of private donors and the support of its sponsors: Athens Area Health Plan Select; Athens Banner-Herald; Athens First Bank & Trust Company; AT&T; Blasingame, Burch Garrard, Ashley, P.C. Attorneys at Law; Chick Music; The Classic Center; Georgia Power; Jackson Spalding and WGAU 1340 AM

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