With a new musical director and a move to a new home, the 2017-18 season promises to be an eventful one for Symphony Orchestra Augusta.
The Symphony hired Dirk Meyer as its new musical director and conductor after several months of searching and bringing in candidates as guest conductors.
Meyer, a native of Germany, also serves as musical director and conductor for the Duluth (Minn.) Superior Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Lyric Opera of the North in Duluth.
Meyer has conducted orchestras all over the globe, including ones in Germany, South Africa, the Czech Republic and Canada. In the United States, he’s worked with groups such as the Sarasota (Fla.) Orchestra, East Texas Symphony and the Orlando Philharmonic.
“I can’t express how excited I am to be part of the community and start working with the symphony,” said Meyer.
He said he chose to pursue the position with Symphony Orchestra Augusta for a variety of reasons.
“It is not at all standard for a city of this size to have an orchestra of this caliber,” he said.
He also likes the group’s efforts to provide a diverse program, such as bringing in the hip-hop strings duo, Black Violin, last February, as well as staying true to the classical repertoire.
“I’m always attracted to places that are not married to the status quo,” he said.
In addition to its symphony series, which will include Dvorak’s New World in November and a Chopin and Beethoven finale in April 2018, Symphony Orchestra Augusta presents its popular Pops! series, which will include Cirque de la Symphonie’s “Spooktacular” in October and the music of Journey in November.
The Pops! series will be expanded this season. No longer will it be Pops! at the Bell only; it will include additional concerts at its new Miller Theater home.
The theater is scheduled to open with a gala on Jan. 6, and announced this past week that Tony Award-winning Broadway and television star Sutton Foster will perform.
Foster, a former Augusta resident, stars in the television drama Younger and has held leading roles on Broadway, including in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes.
“It’s going to be a black tie, lovely affair,” said Catherine Murray, the symphony’s executive director.
Docents will be at the event to talk about the theater’s history.
The first symphony concert in the Miller will be held on Jan. 20 and will include a program tweaked by Meyer.
“It was originally the New World Symphony, but I didn’t feel it has the gravitas to open a new theater,” Meyer said.
So he changed it to Beethoven’s Ninth, which features the “Ode to Joy” in its fourth movement. Also, he wanted to do something written in 1938, the year Chicago architect, Roy Benjamin, was commissioned for the design of the Miller building.
Meyer chose Aaron Copland’s Billy the Kid Suite.
Both Meyer and Murray feel this season is not to be missed, and that it’s a great beginning for a new phase in the symphony’s existence.
Meyer said that the orchestra is “positioned” and “ready to take off.”
To learn more about the Symphony Orchestra Augusta’s upcoming season, visit its website, www.soaugusta.org or call (706) 826-4705.