ALBANY -- The Albany Symphony Orchestra's tribute in 2010-11 to assets of Albany that residents can take pride in was a successful run. The performances highlighted the area's colleges, the Albany Museum of Art, the Flint RiverQuarium and the Wetherbee Planetarium and Thronateeska Heritage Center.
So, it's no surprise that the theme will get an encore as the symphony prepares to launch its 48th season titled, "The Pride in Our Community Continues ..."
"It was successful last year and the organizations that were spotlighted were thankful and appreciative," Symphony Music Director Claire Fox Hillard said last week. "I said, you know, we've got so many good things here, I know we can do five more."
While there are a number of organizations that merit recognition, Hillard said a big part of the process is finding a marriage between the highlighted organization and the right music.
"You have to find music that fits the situation," he said. "I think it's worked out pretty well."
The season opens Oct. 8 with "Gospel Goes Classical," which will be performed at 4 p.m. at the new sanctuary of Mount Zion Baptist Church. That concert, Celebration Concert XIV that will spotlight Mount Zion, will include the choirs of Mount Zion and Sherwood Baptist Church.
The symphony's guest performer at that concert will be award-winning violinist Randall Goosby, the 15-year-old winner of the Junior Division of the Sphinx Competition conducted each year for African-American and Hispanic string players. Goosby will be featured in William Grant Still's "Suite for Violins and Orchestra."
The symphony will follow that performance at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 -- and back at its home, the Albany Municipal Auditorium, with its first subscription concert of the season -- with "A Walk on the Wild Side" that salutes Chehaw and its wild animal habitat.
Guest performers will be duo-pianists Marina Lamanov and Joseph Rackers, who will perform Saint Saens' classic "Carnival on the Animals," which will also feature narration by Robby Davis.
On Dec. 10, the symphony will again present the Peppermint Pops, its annual musical Christmas card to the community, with a pair of performances -- a matinee at 2:30 p.m. and an evening show at 7:30 p.m. -- at the auditorium. That concert marks the 20th anniversary of the Pops and also recognizes the 120th anniversary of The Albany Herald, one of the concerts original sponsors, and the Albany Chorale, which will perform with the symphony. Each year since the first Pops, The Herald has provided tabs with lyrics to the carols for the concert. The Pops is a free concert, but there is limited seating and symphony subscribers will have designated reserved seating.
After a New Year's break the symphony will present "A Classic Valentine" that spotlights Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, which is observing its 100th anniversary this year, at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the auditorium. This concert will feature a duo performance by two guest musicians who are rising stars -- Melissa White, violin, and Juan Miguel Hernandez, viola.
On March 17, the symphony will perform a special non-subscription concert titled "A Family Concert" at 7:30 p.m. at the auditorium. That performance is designed for families and is based on Carnegie Hall's Link Up repertoire. Students who attend the Link Up with their schools will be invited to bring their recorders and attend the concert with their family and friends.
The season will wrap up on May 12 with a 7:30 p.m. performance at the auditorium that spotlights Theatre Albany. That concert, "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour," will be the most innovative of the season.
The symphony will combine talents with Theatre Albany to bring a unique marriage of theater and symphonic music to the stage as they perform the two-man play by Tom Stoppard and the music written by Andre Previn.
"This piece we're doing with Theatre Albany actually includes Theatre Albany," Hillard said. In the one-act play, two dissidents make allusions on symphony music that the orchestra provides, making the music an integral part of the action of the play.
"The orchestra becomes part of what they're talking about," Hillard said. "You can't use a little band for this. You have to use an entire symphony."
Last season, nontraditional additions were incorporated as well as multimedia shows, lights and water were used to accentuate the various spotlight performances. That sort of synergy is what Hillard said he is striving for.
"This cross-pollination is our whole motive for doing this," he said.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.albanysymphony.org beginning in August. Season tickets for adults range from $125 for dress circle to $100 for orchestra and first balcony. Single tickets range from $35 to $38.
Adults 65 and older and military can buy season tickets for $90-$100, with single tickets costing $30-$35. Students with valid ID can buy season tickets in the orchestra and first balcony levels for $40 and purchased single tickets at those levels for $8 each.
Each of the masterworks, or subscription, concerts are preceded at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-concert conversation.
Also, those who attend the masterworks concerts can purchase a single admission ($15 per person) or season pass ($50 per person) for the Conductor's Circle, where they can enjoy refreshments and mingle at intermission and after the concert at the Carnegie Library next door to the auditorium.
Previews detailing the guest performers and music selections of each concert will be found in The Herald's SouthView sections throughout the 2011-12 season.
For information, contact the symphony office at (229) 430-8933 or visit www.albanysymphony.org.