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Philharmonic brings back popular ideas for upcoming season

We know it's getting to be The Season when we start to hear from established Gwinnett arts organizations about the upcoming year's schedule of events. One of the first organizations to announce their new season is the Gwinnett Philharmonic, and they have a surprise for us.

The Philharmonic will be presenting four full-orchestra concerts instead of the usual three, meaning this year, we get to enjoy one extra concert.

The upcoming concert season will again be held in the Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center. Most concerts start at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, with specific dates and themes. It will also bring back several ideas from past years.

"Magnificent Mendelssohn" will kick off the season on Oct. 23. The full orchestra will perform the melodic, romantic music of Felix Mendelssohn, highlighted by the "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E Minor Op. 64." Performing the demanding violin solo in this piece will be Raymond Leung.

A Christmas treat awaits audiences on Dec. 18, when the Philharmonic presents "A Christmas Chorale." Audiences are invited to celebrate the spirit of the season and enjoy holiday songs by the Atlanta Sacred Chorale, conducted by Eric Nelson.

Brought back by popular demand, the "Family Concert" will return on Jan. 26. Last year, this event was a hit with its Instrument Petting Zoo, which will again be offered.

Another repeat-by-popular-demand is the "Side by Side Concert: Sensational Strings." This event on Feb. 26 will feature the full orchestra, to be joined for a portion of the concert by the Gwinnett Honors Orchestra playing beside the pros.

The last full orchestra concert on the 2007-08 schedule is planned for April 1, with "The Philharmonic Plays Pops." The program is still being worked out, but a special guest will perform with the orchestra, entertaining the audience with popular music from Broadway and movies.

The season finale on May 13 is another repeat favorite: "Sizzling Swing," featuring the Gwinnett Philharmonic Jazz, the orchestra's own Big Band group.

The Philharmonic orchestra is comprised entirely of professional musicians from Gwinnett and neighboring counties, and includes players who often appear in professional performance venues around the state.

Season and individual tickets will be on sale soon, so keep your eye on the Gwinnett Philharmonic Web site at www.gwinnettphilharmonic.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail hcalmes@mindspring.com.