POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — The Ohio Symphony Orchestra is set to launch its 24th season with a one-of-a-kind, all-American concert.
The orchestra, led by its founding music director, Ray Fowler, offers a night of one-of-kind pieces from three iconic American composers. One-of-a-kind pianist Richard Glazier is the featured soloist in the program at 8 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Lillian and Paul Wedge Auditorium in the Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School.
The centerpiece of the program is George Gershwin’s Concerto in F, Gershwin’s only classically designed concerto and one of the first American pieces to secure its place in the world’s concert halls. Its energetic rhythms, easy-going melodies and atmospheric orchestration capture the bustle of mid-20th century New York City.
Glazier “has Gershwin in his soul,” according to pianist and singer Michael Feinstein. At the age of 9, Glazier was smitten by Gershwin’s music after seeing the film “Girl Crazy.” He wrote a letter to Ira Gershwin and continued to correspond with him for many years. Fueled by that relationship, Glazier dedicated himself the the Gershwin repertoire and became the leading authority on that genre.
Beginning with the 1996 Gershwin centennial, Glazier has created and performed four one-man, multimedia programs dedicated to the American song, and particularly to the Gershwin brothers, George and Ira. He’s now planning a new CD of music from the Great American Songbook — a collection of classic songs by Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Richard Rodgers, among others.
Glazier has the Midwest in his soul, too, having studied piano both at the Indiana University School of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
The concert’s brilliant conclusion is “The Incredible Flutist,” the only ballet written by Walter Piston. Known today mostly for his own music, Piston taught for more than three decades at Harvard, where his students included a who’s who of 20th-century American music — among them Leroy Anderson, Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, John Harbison, Daniel Pinkham and Frederic Rzewski.
Rounding out the concert are two short pieces, “To Music” by John Corigliano and Gershwin’s “Lullaby” for string orchestra. Corigliano is the son of the former concertmaster of New York Philharmonic. He is an Oscar winner for his score to the movie “The Red Violin,” a Pulitzer Prize winner for his Symphony No. 2 and a Grammy winner for “Mr. Tambourine Man,” a song cycle which sets seven poems by Bob Dylan. “To Music” is a fanfare written for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s centennial celebration in 1995.
Gershwin’s “Lullaby” is his first try at a classical piece. Written in 1919, it was originally for string quartet and later arranged for string orchestra.
October’s celebration of America’s own music reflects the OVS mission to bring great music played by great artists to the Ohio Valley — all while making orchestral music easy to love. The public is also encouraged to attend OVS rehearsals for free at 7-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, and 1-4 p.m. Oct. 5. Open rehearsals are an excellent way to grow comfortable with symphonic music.
Over nearly a quarter century, the OVS — southeast Ohio’s only professional orchestra — has built a reputation for offering a lineup of world-class guest artists performing music ranging from R&B to classical mainstays to holiday favorites. That variety is key both to the OVS’s mission and its two decades of success, said Lora Lynn Snow, the orchestra’s founder and Executive Director.
“Great music comes in all kinds of packages,” Snow said, “and we like to show people all the amazing things an orchestra can do.”
This is the sixth year the OVS has performed in the Wedge Auditorium in Point Pleasant, including a concert that helped dedicate the facility’s completion in 2008. The annual Point Pleasant concert is a chance for the orchestra — based at the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre in downtown Gallipolis, Ohio — to find new fans on both sides of the Ohio River.
“We’re happy to share our music throughout the region,” said Snow, “so we like to go visit and show audiences what we’re all about. Once people hear us, they want to come back for more.”
Tickets and more information are available at the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre box office, 428 Second Ave., Gallipolis; by phone, (740) 446-ARTS (2787); and through the OVS Web site, www.ohiovalleysymphony.org.