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‘Puzzles’ the title for Salisbury Symphony’s 38th season

Elgar’s “Enigma” is just that. For whom were each of its variations written? Initials or words provide little clues.
“It is a puzzle,” admits Maestro David Hagy.
But it was a piece he wanted the Salisbury Symphony to play. So he set about building a concert around it.
Why not create a whole season around puzzle pieces, suggested Linda Jones, the symphony’s executive director, and a theme was born.
“Puzzles” is the title of the symphony’s 38th season, which kicks off Oct. 4 with a pops concert at Livingstone College’s Varick auditorium. The remainder of the season will be spent at Catawba College’s Keppel Auditorium.
Each of the symphony’s five regular-season concerts answers a question: When? What? Who? Where? Why?
The answer to the first “When?” question is the “March Madness” concert in October.
Say what?
Don’t think basketball, think marches. This concert will feature a variety of marches by Sousa and Tchaikovsky, Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette” and Verdi’s “Triumphal March” from “Aida.”
It’s appropriate to kick off the season with marches, as they are a favorite of Fred Stanback. He and wife Alice are season sponsors. The pops concert is sponsored by Lois Pruehsner.
The next question of “What?” is answered by the concert on Nov. 22, called “Minor Details, Major Decisions.” The words are a quote from a Sondheim musical, and the concert is sponsored by Bill and Nancy Stanback.
“The intriguing thing about this concert,” Hagy says, “is that every piece begins in D minor and ends in D major.”
A highlight of this concert is Brahms’ “Piano Concerto no. 1” played by Dmitri Shteinberg.
Hagy describes the piece as “monumental.”
“Dmitri is an exceptional pianist,” Jones says. Shteinberg, who teaches at Wake Forest University, played with the symphony a couple of years ago. “People will be thrilled to know he’s coming back.”
“Dmitri jumped at the chance to play the Brahms,” Hagy says. “He is one of the finest pianists in the state, if not the East Coast.”
Of the transition from a minor to a major key in every piece, Hagy says, “a happy ending is something people tend to want.”
This concert will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Keppel Auditorium.
The question of “Who?” is answered in the third concert, Jan. 31: “Tchaikovsky!” This concert will be performed by the North Carolina Symphony, William Henry Curry, conductor. The symphony will perform the great composer’s “Symphony no. 4.”
Hagy points out that Tchaikovsky created a wide variety of music, so it’s easy to create a concert with music by just one composer. This concert is sponsored by Cloninger Ford Toyota Scion.
A family concert on March 22 answers the question “Where?”: “Around the World in 80 Minutes.”
Sponsored by Fibrant, this event, Hagy says, will showcase how music defines a geographic location, such as “Waltzing Matilda” for Australia and “The Campbells are Coming” for Scotland. During this concert, the Rowan County Fifth Grade Honors Chorus will perform “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin.”
The concert also features Balenese gamelan music, with lots of gongs and cymbals. Other pieces will include two selections from “Pictures at An Exhibition,” representing Russia and Ukraine. Hagy notes how these two countries are connected in history and music.
Finally, the regular season concludes May 9 with “English Elation,” which answers the “Why?” question. Hagy notes that in 2015, Queen Elizabeth will surpass her grandmother, Queen Victoria, as Europe’s longest reigning monarch.
This is indeed cause for celebration.
This concert, sponsored by Mary Messinger, will also feature violinist Daniel Skidmore in Vaughan Williams’ “Serenade to Music” and cellist Anne Sellitti in Gustav Holst’s “Invocation.” And the symphony will play William Walton’s “Orb and Sceptre” march, commissioned for the queen’s coronation on June 2, 1953.
Special collaborations this season include “Les Miserables,” with Piedmont Players Theatre, Oct. 17-19 and “The Nutcracker” with Piedmont Dance Co., Dec. 20-21.
The 11th annual Pops at the Post takes place June 6 at the Salisbury Post.
If you’re a symphony supporter, be careful what you ask for. Hagy says that a concert-goer requested the “Enigma” piece several years ago.
“I really do pay attention to requests,” Hagy quips.
Regular season symphony ticket packages are available now. Tickets for “Les Mis” go on sale to the public on Sept. 2.
For more information, call the symphony office at 704-637-4314 or visit www.salisburysymphony.org.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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