ART BEAT: Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra invites audiences to 'Xperience the Passion'


Holley Calmes

The Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra has developed a themed season for its audiences under the umbrella theme of "Xperience the Passion." Individual concerts have been whimsically titled "Shiver," "Shine" and "Shimmer." For the upcoming concert at 7 p.m. on Monday, audiences are invited to "Shiver" as they enjoy a large and varied offering of vocal and instrumental music as well as dance. The concert will be in the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center.

Tickets for the event range from $13 to $25 and are available through Ticketmaster.

The concert has two parts.

"Last year we reorganized and separated the youth musicians and the adult musicians so that they are rehearsing separately," said Rick Smith, GSO's choral music director. "We do choose a number of young musicians to participate with the adult orchestra, but we also have given the youth orchestra its own concert."

This youth orchestra will perform at 6 p.m. on Monday with Dr. Gregory Pritchard conducting. The concert is free if patrons already have a ticket to the main event at 7 p.m. For those only coming to the youth orchestra concert, there will be a $10 donation requested. The youth orchestra will consist of approximately 40 young musicians and will perform Copeland's "Rodeo," Bizet's "Farandole" and other holiday classics.

Using a 60-voice chorus and a 70-musician orchestra, concert-goers can settle in for a musical treat which will take them on a journey incorporating winter themes. In fact, the chorus and orchestra musicians will all wear silver, gray or white with an accompanying scarf to reflect the wintery mood.

"There will be no tuxedos for this show," Smith said.

To start, GSO musicians under the baton of conductor Robert Trocina will present music from "The Polar Express." This portion of the concert will be a multimedia experience complete with a storyteller and video projection.

The concert continues to include "Fantasia on a Ukrainian Carol" and the well-loved "Winter" portion of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" featuring Concertmaster and soloist Nancy Schecter.

Next, 30 dancers from the Northeast Atlanta Ballet will recreate the "Snow" scene from Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker."

After intermission, even the youngest attendees can get onstage. GSO will invite aspiring young conductors age 10 and under to help conduct the familiar Leroy Anderson "Sleigh Ride." They will get reindeer antlers and conduct with McDonald's straws.

Three more special musical pieces will follow "Sleigh Ride." Alto Lynn Renshaw will be featured on "The Christmas Song," to be followed by a choral a cappella piece "Glory Glory Glory To the Newborn King" by Moses Hogan. The soloist on this piece will be Billy Valentine.

To conclude the evening, Robert Shaw's "The Many Moods of Christmas, Suites 3 and 4" will ensure that the audience leaves in the happiest holiday mood ever.

"This is one of the best ways to welcome in the Christmas Spirit for the upcoming holidays," Smith said. "This is probably our best show yet, and definitely a show for the whole family."

For more information about this concert and the upcoming GSO productions, visit www.gwinnettsymphony.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.