Symphony set to begin 104th season on Oct. 26

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HERITAGE PARK PANEL SYMPHONY---October 1, 2010 Jeff Horner Photo

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Walla Walla Symphony CEO Melissa Wychoff at the Main Street Symphony booth/office. May 11, 2006

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New Walla Walla Symphony CEO Mike Wenberg is a writer, jazz trombonist, and author of children books. Wenberg accepted the job after Richard Simon offered the position to him while the two were playing in a music group together. (1/5/07)

The Walla Walla Symphony begins its 104th season with its "Sounds of Rejoicing" performance on Oct. 26.

The new season brings changes at the symphony, including in personnel and new performances.

Ed Dixon, a retired Whitman College professor who also serves as the principal cellist for the symphony, is now the orchestra manager. He replaces Sharon Thompson.

There is a wide variety of performances this season, so there is something everyone will enjoy.

"The season is designed so that every concert is a special event," Dixon said. "There is not a single concert in our subscription series that is not memorable in its own way."

The first concert of the season on Oct. 26 includes three unique performances.

"On the very first concert, we are having a soloist that we have never had here before. [Nathaniel Rosen] is an internationally known cellist," Dixon said. "He is a very, very distinguished and important musician coming on our very first concert, and I hope that people clue in to what a treat it is to have him here and to be playing with the symphony."

Michael Wenberg, CEO of the Walla Walla Symphony, said, "We are also featuring an opening piece that was composed by our principle trumpet player, William Barry, who plays up in the Spokane Symphony. That should be a wonderful piece as well."

The symphony will also perform the second symphony of Sibelius, led by conductor Yaacov Bergmann.

"Yaacov Bergmann is an internationally known conductor who comes to us from New York, and I think this is the first time he has done Sibelius, this particular symphony, with the Walla Walla Symphony. That in itself is a big deal," Dixon notes.

In November, the Celtic Tenors will perform.

"The Celtic Tenors is a special feature. They are an internationally known singing trio," Dixon said.

There will also be family and youth concerts in November, which are specifically meant to introduce youth to classical music.

In December, the symphony will be performing "The Nutcracker" for the second time in two years. The symphony collaborates with the Eugene Ballet to put on the performance. This is a special treat for the Eugene Ballet, as they perform to live music with the Walla Walla Symphony.

"'The Nutcracker' will be a tremendous highlight and really, really makes the Christmas season special for the community," Dixon said.

In February, there will be a special Valentine's Day concert.

"We have a Valentine's concert that is full of Viennese waltzes and charming music," Dixon said.

In March, there will be a performance of a Brazilian version of "The Four Seasons."

"We have a wonderful violinist coming from Los Angeles, Lindsay Deutsch," Dixon said. "She is doing 'The Four Seasons,' but it is not the Vivaldi 'Four Seasons.' It is by a Brazilian composer, Piazzolla."

While the poor economy has had an effect on art institutions across the nation, the Walla Walla Symphony has been able to expand, despite economic restrictions.

"The economy has been really bad for arts nationally," Wenberg said. "We continue to perform concerts and have expanded our services to kids."

Dixon points out that the Walla Walla Symphony holds a prominent position in the town as a whole.

"The Walla Walla Symphony maintains the central artistic position in this town," Dixon said.

Wenberg emphasizes the quality of the music that the Walla Walla Symphony performs, especially given that they are a small-town symphony.

"The quality of music that comes out of this hall, from this particular orchestra, is second to none," Wenberg said. "If you want to hear a fine symphony orchestra, there is one right here."

All of the performances are in Cordiner Hall on the Whitman College Campus. Tickets are on sale now. They can be purchased online at wwsymphony.org or over the phone at (509) 529-8020.

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