11 St JohnsFayetteville Symphony Orchestra’s last season comprised an exciting search for a new music director and conductor. In April, at a speakeasy-themed reveal party, FSO proudly announced that Stefan Sanders had taken the position.

When Sanders was an auditioning candidate last year, he met FSO president and CEO Christine Kastner. Kastner said he asked her about the region’s history. “As the week went on, we discussed more and more Carolina things because he was really trying to get to know the community,”  Kastner said.

When Sanders was hired, they both agreed a Carolina-themed season would be perfect for his first year with the FSO. “This theme gave me an opportunity to really dig into the rich history and culture of North Carolina and Fayetteville, programming music that our audiences can relate to as well as discover something new from,” Sanders said.

Six concerts, starting in October and ending in April, promise to transport listeners from the pirateriddled Carolina coastline of the past to the Appalachian Mountains in the spring.  

“Cape Fear” • Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017

Explore the world of pirates and shipwrecks, both in myth and history, embedded in the Carolina coastline. Look forward to Wagner’s “Overture to The Flying Dutchman” along with music from “Hook” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” for this family-friendly evening. Kastner encouraged guests to come dressed in their best pirate costume. “Yes, I’m serious,” she said. She added that children who come in costume will get to march in a costume parade. 

“A Carolina Holiday” • Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 

Enter a lush, nostalgic, merry world of sound where every Fayetteville native’s dream of a white Christmas can finally come true. The repertoire includes music from “The Nutcracker” and the classic holiday film “Home Alone.” Fayetteville Academy’s children’s choir, which has traveled to competitions at Disney World, will sing with the orchestra for por
tions of “The Nutcracker.” A certain red-suited guest will be in the lobby handing out candy canes.

“The French Connection” • Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018

The FSO String Quartet pays homage to Lafayette’s legacy in the beautiful nave of St. John’s Episcopal Church for the first chamber concert of the season. Sanders described chamber concerts as “having a more intimate feel.” Kastner agreed. “It’s a smaller group of musicians, but it’s also a much smaller venue,” she said. “With two violins, a viola and a cello, you can actually distinguish the sounds of the instruments and … you’re close enough to ... watch the individual musicians.” The musicians perform Maurice Ravel’s iconic “String Quartet,” considered to be a cornerstone piece of French impressionism. 

“Music of the New World” • Thursday,  Jan. 25, 2018

The Fayetteville Symphony Brass and Woodwind Quintet perform American works by Stephen Foster, George Gershwin, Elmer Bernstein and more. The Symphony Brass is composed of two trumpets and a French horn, trombone and tuba, while the Woodwind Quintet is composed of a flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon and French horn. The second chamber concert of the season will also be held in St. John’s, which seats 300 people. “We usually come very close to selling out these concerts,” Kastner said. 

“1867-2017: A 150-Year Celebration!” • Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018

FSO partners with Fayetteville State University to celebrate the school’s sesquicentennial anniversary. World-renowned opera soprano Angela Brown joins
the orchestra to perform pieces that explore and honor the influence of African-Americans on music from 1867-2017. Composers to be played include Gershwin, Scott Joplin, Stephen Price and William Grant Still.  

“Americana” • Saturday, March 10, 2018

Celebrate being American with “American Salute” and music from classic American films “Apollo 13” and “Forrest Gump.” “I think there will be (at least one thing) in that concert everyone’s heard before, and so I think it will be really accessible for the audience,” Kastner said. The Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra joins the FSO onstage for portions of the concert. The winner of the Harlan Duenow Young Artist Concerto Competition, to be announced this spring, also has a solo performance. 

“Appalachian Spring” • Saturday,  April 21, 2018

“Gone to Carolina” ends in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and Jean Sibelius’s “Finlandia” evoke hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Guest soloist Alex Jokippi, principal trumpet of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, also performs an original piece composed for him by Finnish violinist and composer Jaakko Kuusisto. “He is a brilliant musician, wonderful person and dear friend,” said Sanders of Jokippi. 

“Once the concert is happening, it isn’t about anyone in particular — staff, musicians, conductor — it is purely about the music,” said Julia Atkins, FSO director of artistic operations and marketing. “By the end, everyone goes home happier, refreshed and even nourished. ... It is a goal we set for ourselves for every concert, and it’s amazing to see those results.”

“The FSO and I are devoted to being a part of what makes Fayetteville so special,” Sanders said. “This coming season begins a new chapter in the FSO’s 61-year history, and I am beyond excited to share all of this great music with you!”

All concerts are at 7:30 p.m. with venue varying. Visit www.fayettevillesymphony.org to purchase tickets and to learn about special events outside of the season’s regular concerts.

 

PHOTO: FSO’s chamber concerts this season will be performed in the beautiful nave of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

 

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