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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008 08:17 pm

The symphony season

For butterfly lovers and Lincoln buffs

Xiang Gao performs Nov. 15.
Chu-Fang Huang performs Sept. 20.

The upcoming season upholds the standard of excellence the Illinois Symphony Orchestra has made a Springfield tradition.

One of ISO's most popular events is the Pops in the Park outdoor concert at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 30 in Springfield at Douglas Park and Aug. 31 at Miller Park in Bloomington. Cheryl Snyder, executive director of the ISO, said it's one of the biggest shows of the fall season. About 3,000 people usually attend the patriotic concert, which this year is a salute to Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. Snyder says the Pops in the Park concert gives the ISO a chance to access the community. "It's interactive, families come with kids, and people bring picnics, and the best part about it is that it's free," Snyder said. "It is our way of taking the orchestra into the community."

The fall season will continue with the traditional Masterworks and Chamber concerts. According to Snyder, the Masterworks Concerts attract an audience of 500-800 people. To help make the experience as comprehensive as possible Karen Lynn Deal, music director, will host "concert comments" at 7:15 p.m. before each 8 p.m. Saturday concert at Sangamon Auditorium. The series begins Sept. 20 with a performance by pianist Chu Fang Huang, an International Van Cliburn Competition winner. She will play Russian concertos that include Symphony No. 4 written by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, the composer of the "Nutcracker" and "Swan Lake."

On Nov.15at UIS and on Nov. 16 at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, the Masterworks II concert, titled Butterfly Lovers Concert, will give an ode to fairytales, folktales and religious themes that have inspired humanity. Xiang Gao, violinist, will bring to life figures like Tom Thumb, the Fairy Princess and St. Anthony. Pieces include the "Mother Goose Suite" composed by Maurice Ravel, "The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto," composed by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao, and "Mathis der maler" or "Matthew the Painter," composed by Paul Hindemith. The Butterfly Lovers Concert will bring art and literature to life.

The chamber concerts are another important part of the ISO repertoire. These are smaller concerts with intimate venues at 7:30 p.m. at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Springfield and at Second Presbyterian Church in Bloomington. The first concert on Oct. 17 in Springfield and Oct.18 in Bloomington will be the Festa Italiana. Kim Resinger, the ISO's own piccoloist, will be featured in the program that will celebrate music by four Italian composers and concludes with a piece about Italy. The concert includes two pieces composed by Gioachio Rossini and Antonio Verdi. The first piece will be the lively overture, "The Silken Staircase," to Rossini's "La scala di seta," while the second piece, Verdi's "La Traviata," Prelude to Act III, will have a melancholy tone. Other music includes "Ancient Airs and Dances," Suite No.3, composed by Ottorino Respighi, and the concert concludes with Symphony No.4 in A Major, OP. 90, Italian by Felix Mendelssohn. The upbeat "Italian Symphony" was a response to Mendelssohn's first visit to Italy. The Festa Italiana will take audience members on a tour through Italian history, culture and landscape.

The Chamber Orchestra II will usher in the holiday season on Dec. 5 in Springfield and Dec. 6in Bloomington with A Candlelight Concert that will include highlights from George Frederic Handel's "The Messiah" and other seasonal favorites. Soprano Saundra De Athos and Kimberly Ladage bring warmth to the season with their rich voices. Afterwards, the audience and vocalists will also sing the "Hallelujah Chorus" as a sign of unity and peace.

The ISO will wrap up the holiday season with Holiday Pops at 8 p.m. on Dec.19at the BCPA and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Dec. 20at UIS. The concert will include local guest artists, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and St. Andrew's Pipes to uplift spirits. Special guests include Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus.

For information about the ISO call


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Friday Sept. 20th