by Daniel Hathaway
“Like families everywhere, the Akron Symphony celebrates the holiday season with our neighbors and friends,” music director Christopher Wilkins said in a press release about the Orchestra’s“Home for the Holidays” concert on Friday, December 9 at 7:30 pm at E.J. Thomas Hall. And in the case of the ASO, there are a lot of friends to include in the party.
Most American orchestras have established relationships with the wider community they serve, but Wilkins and his predecessors have gone well beyond “outreach” activities to include active participation by community groups in the Orchestra’s activities.
aThe ASO’s annual “Gospel Meets Symphony” concert, established by its late music director Alan Balter, has generated a large standing chorus, now under the direction of Jennifer Jones (above), who will join the Orchestra and the Akron Symphony Chorus for the December 9 festivities.
Other community groups and individual performers have come into the ASO family through such projects as Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and other special concerts. On Friday, the Miller South Steel Drum Ensemble and Miller South Rising Stars, pianist Kofi R. Boakye, tenor Daniel Doty, and vocalist Wanda Hunt will help fill E.J. Thomas Hall with a variety of musical styles ranging from classical to jazz to caribbean steel drumming. Dance will be provided by the University of Akron Dance Institute and the Martell School of Dance.
The Akron Youth Symphony will swell the ranks of orchestral musicians, and guest conductor Victoria Lorenzon (below, being coached by Wilkins) will share the podium.
But there’s more to the evening than the 7:30 pm concert itself. Beginning at 6:30 pm, performances in the lobby will include music by the Akron School for the Arts Chamber Ensemble and the Firestone Chamber Ensemble, along with photo-ops with Santa.
And there’s a no-cover-charge after party at Jilly’s Music Room (111 N. Main St.) featuring the music of the Deep South Akron Blues All-Stars, holiday-themed beers and cocktails, and a special holiday Sangria. Valet parking will be available. You can bring the kids, but under-21 guests will need to have an adult in tow.
Single tickets for the Home for the Holidays concert can be purchased online.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com December 6, 2016.
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