Symphony's season will go from 'Star Wars' to Sedaka and Stravinsky

Symphony Orchestra Augusta, led by music director Shizuo Z. Kuwahara, opens its 2011-12 season with a concert Oct. 1.



Stormtroopers, Michael Jack­son, Mozart, Vivaldi, The Temptations and Leonard Bernstein don’t seem to have too much in common, but they come together to create an exciting 2011-2012 season for Symphony Orchestra Augusta.

“These concerts work together better than any I’ve seen in a long time,” said Sandra Self, the executive director.

The theme for the season is love and death, and the broad spectrum of concerts and composers are woven together in harmony with the theme.

While the season brochure tends to list just the Augusta-area concerts, the symphony offers much to the communities outside of Augusta as well.

“Our season opens with 11 concerts in 10 days,” Self said.

Before the Oct. 1 season opener, the symphony will perform four children’s concerts in Aiken on Sept. 29 and 30.

The season opener, Innocence Cherished, which will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 1, at First Baptist Church of Augusta, will feature the music of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess, Grieg’s Piano Concerto for A Minor and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2.

Amier Naji, a senior at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School and the symphony’s youth competition winner, will be highlighted during the concert.

The symphony’s next big event will be part of the Westobou Festival. The John Williams Spectacular will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8, at Bell Auditorium. A 200-voice community choir under the director of Joel Scraper from the University of South Carolina Aiken will join the symphony. Other special guests include a few Jedi Knights, Darth Vader and some stormtroopers.

The Pops! at the Bell series will feature Neil Sedaka on Oct. 27, The Temptations on Feb. 9, and the music of Michael Jackson on March 8. The Holiday Pops concert in December will feature James Torme, the son of singer Mel Torme.

As part of the Symphony Series, composer Leonard Bernstein will be featured in West Side Stories on Nov. 12; Vivaldi and Mozart are highlighted on Jan. 21; and Liszt, Stravinsky and Schubert on Feb. 18. Composer Tan Dun, whose pieces are showcased in the films Memoirs of a Geisha and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, will be featured on March 17. The Symphony Series will round out on April 28 with a selection of operatic pieces.

The season will end with the traditional concert under the stars in Columbia County at the new Lady Antebellum Pavilion and Josh Kelly Stage at the Evans Town Center. Self said the program has not been finalized.


WHAT: Augusta Symphony presents Innocence Cherished

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1

WHERE: First Baptist Church of Augusta, 3500 Walton Way

DETAILS: (706) 826-4705 or