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Albany Symphony marks 50 years with Golden Gala

The Albany Symphony will perform in jeans Saturday following the black-tie gala Friday

Awadagin Pratt and the Albany Symphony Orchestra will perform "Beethoven in Blue Jeans" Saturday at the Albany Municipal Auditorium. (Specil photo)

Awadagin Pratt and the Albany Symphony Orchestra will perform "Beethoven in Blue Jeans" Saturday at the Albany Municipal Auditorium. (Specil photo)

ALBANY — Now in its 50th year, the Albany Symphony Orchestra will celebrate the monumental achievement at its Golden Gala on Friday, followed by a special performance on Saturday.

Friday’s black tie-optional event at the Hilton Garden Inn will feature music by the Southern Art Music Ensemble, a raffle and a cash bar. Cocktail hour begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and dancing at 7:30 p.m. Honorees will include current and former supporters of the ASO, including past association presidents, guild presidents and Legacy members.

Tickets for the Golden Gala are $75 per person, or $150 per couple. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact (229) 430-8933 or visit www.albanysymphony.org.

On Saturday, the Albany Symphony Orchestra will unveil the musical stylings of Awadagin Pratt. The distinguished pianist will be the featured performer at “Beethoven in Blue Jeans,” beginning at 7:30 pm in the Albany Municipal Auditorium. A meet-and-greet with Pratt and orchestra members will precede the concert at 6:30 p.m.

According to ASO Music Director and Conductor Claire Fox Hillard, the idea of Saturday’s concert is to reinforce the notion that classical music and the symphony is something everyone can enjoy.

“I think a lot of times, people get intimidated about what they think they should wear to events like these,” Hillard said. “Unfortunately, too often, stereotypes keep people away. It shouldn’t be about the clothes, but the music.”

To support this idea, the symphony will wear jeans during its performance and is encouraging attendees to wear denim as well.

Pratt began studying music at age six, and is currently an associate professor of piano and artist in residence at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. At 16, he entered the University of Illinois where he studied piano, violin and conducting. He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he became the first student in the school’s history to receive diplomas in those three performance areas.

During his professional career, Pratt has received numerous accolades, and has performed at the White House on several occasions, twice at the invitation of former President Bill Clinton, and most recently in 2009.

He also recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins in for his work in the field of classical music.

Tickets for the concert are $25 and $35 depending on seat location. Tickets for seniors 65 and older are $22, and student tickets with valid ID are $10.

Guests may also join the Conductor’s Circle post-concert reception to meet Hillard and Pratt at the Albany Area Arts Council. Admission is $15 per person or a season pass membership is available.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.albanysymphony.org, or call the ASO office at (229) 430-8933.