Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Small Town with Full Orchestra Accompaniment

Maestro Patricio Cobos (center) conducts the LaGrange Symphony
Orchestra. He is pictured here with the orchestra's concertmaster,
Lorna Wood from Auburn (left), and violist Maureen Gallagher
who performed with the group during its 2009-10 season.
The little community of LaGrange, Georgia, is not much more populous than Opelika (ca. 30,000). However, it is fantastically able to support the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra (website), a professional group with a $275,000 to $300,000 yearly budget. It pays its musicians, does community outreach, and brings in guest artists with international reputations.

Performances are certainly worth the 45-minute-to-1-hour drive it takes to get from here to there. The group's concertmaster (def.) is Lorna Wood, an Auburn resident and one of this community's busiest violin teachers. Maestro Patricio Cobos, originally from Chile, is the group's Conductor and Musical Director.

Teachers and students should take note of two of the organization's efforts. The Young Artists Competition is open to students from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. It awards cash prizes up to $1,500. Also, SCALA (Student Competition Awards in the LaGrange Area) targets an area 50 miles from LaGrange. This includes Auburn, Opelika and Columbus. SCALA also awards cash prizes. These competitions take place February 2, 2013.

Below are answers to some questions I've been posing to our area's symphonies. Responding is the group's Executive Director, Dave Marler.

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Patrick McCurry: Give us two or three highlights from your upcoming season.

Dave Marler: The season opens on October 16 with an evening of [George] Gershwin music featuring Eugenio Urrutia on piano for Rhapsody in Blue. November 13 will bring world-renowned violist, Roberto Diaz, to the Callaway Auditorium stage as he performs [Georg Philipp] Telemann's Viola Concerto in G Major and [Béla] Bartók's Viola Concerto. The evening will also feature a tribute to our armed forces. March 12, 2013 will feature a western theme with music from Elmer Bernstein and Aaron Copland. [There is a season overview with more highlights on the website: lagrangesymphony.org/previews.]

PMc: Give us some idea about ticket costs, both for individual concerts and subscriptions.

DM: Season tickets are now available and range from $25 to $90. Individual tickets range from $5 to $25 and will be available beginning October 1.

PMc: Are there events that we should look for outside of the regular season?


DM: Our annual Pops Concert on Saturday February 9, 2013, will again feature Jason Coleman performing with the LSO. The grandson of famous pianist, Floyd Cramer, Coleman will present selections from his grandfather's storied career along with some pop standards. Jason has quite a following in the Valley area and beyond.

PMc: What kinds of outreach programs do you have, and how can we support those?

DM: Our Musicians in Schools initiative sends small ensembles into the classrooms of local schools. Musicians perform and educate students about their instruments and the selections they will hear.

LaGrange Symphony Youth Orchestra features young string players from ages 10-18. They have weekly rehearsals and perform two concerts per school year. in March 2013, the LSYO will also perform side-by-side with the LSO during [Aaron] Copland's "Hoe-Down" [from his ballet, Rodeo].

These outreach initiatives require funding over and above tuition so we are always seeking partners to help sponsor our educational programs.

PMc: Where can we go online or whom do we contact to sign up for mailings or e-mail notifications?

DM: www.lagrangesymphony.org is the best source for the latest news about all things LSO.

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