Florida's Gulf Coast Symphony to present a Classical Access Concert: American Icons

The Gulf Coast Symphony, Southwest Florida's community orchestra, will present another of its of its acclaimed Classical Access Concerts on Saturday evening, March 14. The program, American Icons, features some of the greatest American composers, including two of the most famous living American composers, Jennifer Higdon and Christopher Theofanidis. The program includes Jennifer Higdon's ethereal Blue Cathedral, Christopher Theofanidis' spiritual Rainbow Body, Leonard Bernstein's exciting and jazzy Dances from On the Town and Howard Hanson's lusciously rich Symphony No. 2 "Romantic".

The Gulf Coast Symphony's Classical Access Concerts are designed for the audience to become active listeners during the evening's program. Before each piece, Music Director Andrew Kurtz will discuss the musical selection and demonstrate with orchestral excerpts various elements that make the evening's program unique. Highly interactive, the evening's concert is both entertaining and educational. The informal and casual atmosphere of these concerts only enhances the concert-goers experience. Following the concert, the conductor will hold a question-and-answer session with interested audience members.

Hanson's Second Symphony is best known for its use in the end credits of the 1979 Ridley Scott film Alien, and remains Hanson's best-known work. Both Higdon's i and Theofanidis' Rainbow Body are two of the most-performed orchestral works by a living composer and rival each other in their sheer beauty and power of emotional expression. Bernstein's On the Town captures the spirit of 1940s America. On the Town, first produced on Broadway in 1944 and made into a film in 1949, was a musical with music by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, based on Jerome Robbins' idea for his 1944 ballet Fancy Free to Bernstein's music. The musical introduced several popular and classic songs, among them New York, New York, Lonely Town, I Can Cook, Too, and Some Other Time. The story concerns three American sailors on a 24-hour shore leave in New York City during wartime 1944. Each of the three sailors becomes enamored of a particular woman - and of the city itself. The musical integrates dance into its storytelling: Robbins made a number of ballets and extended dance sequences for the show, including the "Imaginary Coney Island" ballet.

"This music features all music written within the past 80 years, with two pieces in the past seven. It features several of America's most talented composers," said Kurtz in a prepared statement. "These pieces were specifically chosen because of the immense sonic landscape they create. They showcase the very best of symphonic sounds the richness, harmony and majesty of 70 instruments playing together. This concert celebrates the lush sound that is unique to American symphonic music, and captures the spirit of each of the four composers."

During the month of March, the Gulf Coast Symphony is participating in the Orchestras Feeding America National Food Drive sponsored by the League of American Orchestras. The Gulf Coast Symphony is collecting nonperishable food donations at all of their concerts, which will be donated to local food pantries. In addition to its participation in the American League of Orchestras Food Drive, the Gulf Coast Symphony performed for a sold out audience at the sixth annual Sam Galloway Soup Kitchen Benefit on March 3, an event that raised a half million dollars for the local soup kitchen.

The concert will take place in the acoustically beautiful Anderson Theater at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers (5598 Sunrise Drive) at 7:30 p.m. Ample free parking is available. This concert is sponsored by Symphonia Medicus: "Doctors Dedicated to the Art of Classical Healing."

Single tickets are $10-$20, with free tickets for children under 18.
Tickets are available online at www.gulfcoastsymphony.org, by calling 239-481-4849, or in person at Anderson Hall one hour before the concert.

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