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Albany Symphony to present Italian opera for season finale

Wesley Morgan (Special photo)

Wesley Morgan (Special photo)

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Megan Mashburn (Special photo)

ALBANY — The Albany Symphony Orchestra will present its season finale on April 12 in the Darton State College Theatre at 7:30 p.m. and on April 13 at 3 p.m. at the Rylander Theatre in Americus. These performances cap off a year of celebration of 50 years that the Symphony has been entertaining audiences in Southwest Georgia.

A combined chorus of area college choirs, the Albany Chorale and the Southwest Georgia Civic Chorus will join the orchestra in a program that features highlights from popular Italian operas.

“When we were deciding what we wanted to do for our 50th anniversary celebration,” said Albany Symphony Music Director and Conductor Claire Fox Hillard, “the other directors and I decided that we really wanted to do something that showed the people of southwest Georgia how much we appreciate them.

“We talked about a lot of things, but ultimately decided to ‘keep it in the family.’ Instead of bringing in a bunch of outside guests,

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The Albany Symphony Orchestra will present “Evening of Italian Opera” April 12 and 13 in celebration of its 50th anniversary. (Special photo)

we’re instead incorporating talent from all over the area. The symphony has always really been southwest Georgia’s symphony.”

This weekend’s performance coincides almost to the day of the initial debut of the symphony in the spring of 1964.

“Evening of Italian Opera” is dedicated to the memory of Anna Louise McCormack, a leader in the arts and civic communities in Albany for many years and a founding member of the Albany Symphony Orchestra.

During her life, McCormack enjoyed travel, and many of her destinations were made to concerts, operas and music festivals, which makes Saturday’s performance a perfect way to honor her memory.

“She was a strong supporter of the symphony, a valued friend and we deeply miss her,” said Jim Bullion, symphony association president.

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Claire Fox Hillard (Special photo)

“I really think the audience will enjoy the selections of this program,” Hillard said. “Many of the songs are very familiar, and even if you don’t necessarily know the title, the tune is recognizable.

“Opera isn’t a four-letter word,” Hillard continued. “There are great melodies and stories that are presented in song.”

Guest soloists Megan Mashburn and Wesley Morgan will join approximately 120 students from Albany State University, Darton State College, Georgia Southwestern State University and Middle Georgia State College for renditions of beloved favorites from Rossini, Verdi, Puccini and Donizetti.

“This performance is a unique opportunity to bring college and community choruses together to engage themselves in something they as individual groups are not ordinarily able to do on their own,” Hillard commented.

“No one college is big enough by itself, but when combined, the students really get a fantastic educational experience.”

So why come to the show?

“There’s just nothing like a live performance,” Hillard notes. “Sure, you can get recordings of music, but it’s not comparable to the real thing.”

Tickets to the Albany performance are $35, $25 ($22 seniors 65+) and $10 students with valid ID and are available by calling (229) 430-8933 or online at www.albanysymphony.org. Rylander tickets are $15 and can be reserved by calling (229) 931-0001 or online at www.rylander.org.