Classic music meets modern at the Fall Fiesta Gala Concert


• What: Fall Fiesta Gala Concert

• When: 4 p.m. Sunday

• Where: Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth

• Cost: $12 to $22

• For more information: Visit www.ludwigsymphony.org


Special Photo Chinese violinist Luke Hsu will perform Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto No. 5 at the Ludwig Symphony Orchestra's annual gala concert on Sunday.

DULUTH -- Classical music is known for being stuffy, humdrum and down-right boring. The Ludwig Symphony Orchestra is here to change that.

On Sunday, the musical ensemble presents its "Fall Fiesta Gala Concert" in the Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center with an afternoon full of surprises.

"People really want to have fun. They don't want to go to a classic show and not have fun," conductor Thomas Ludwig said. "There is still Beethoven, but we try to mix it up with something funny. We call it a fiesta because I try to make the program so the audience doesn't get bored."

When Ludwig and the symphony started this concert in Gwinnett six years ago, he invited a local mariachi band to join in the performance, complete with a live horse on stage wearing a sombrero, but things didn't go as planned.

"We had the symphony play three short numbers and finish with 'La Bamba,' which told the mariachi group to walk up front. They wouldn't get off the stage," Ludwig said. "They thought they had hit the big time. I tried to pull them off the stage, flicker the lights off and on, and nothing. Finally, I sat down on the podium and waited."

The concert was a huge success, so the LSO kept the name "Fall Fiesta." The music changes every year to keep audiences on their toes.

"I usually try to find a work that the orchestra can get sink their teeth into," Ludwig said. "Then, I try to find lighter works, but still great pieces of music."

This year, the orchestra will perform Beethoven's Concerto No. 5, Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto No. 5, "Verdiarias," Ludwig's Symphony No 2, along with other pieces.

"I want the audience to walk away with a sense that this was the most amazing performance -- something that is earth shattering, that they can't control their emotions," Ludwig said. "We're not here for ourselves. We're here to sacrifice ourselves ... for the audience."

The concert is approximately two-and-a-half hours long with an intermission.