“We’ll talk about Poland and the town of Opole, where the orchestra originated,” said Millie Harris, education chair for the Knox Concert Series. “I give them some background on concert etiquette and time to applaud. Even as an adult, I wasn’t sure about that until I started doing these programs.”
The programs are part of the education outreach Knox Concert Series volunteers have done for more than 20 years. Students have received lessons on ballets, operas and symphony performances such as the one they’ll hear Thursday, which features works from Gustav Mahler, Jean Sibelius and Johannes Brahams.
In the past, Harris has had students act out scenes from well-known stories, like they did in 2009 when Lerner and Loewe’s Broadway musical Camelot came to town. For Opole, students will listen to a performance by a string ensemble comprised of regional teenage musicians. The group will talk about its instruments and answer questions from the students.
“They really do enjoy seeing students their own age play,” Harris said. Harris will also talk to the students about the lives of the composers and play some of the music the orchestra will perform.
“We cram quite a bit into 55 minutes,” she said.
On performance night, the students — 90-100 are expected to attend — will meet in the Anniston High School library with some of the musicians from Opole for a question-and-answer session. The students’ admission to the concert is paid by a grant from the Alabama State Council for the Arts as well as donations by various sponsors of the series.
Opole is a relatively young orchestra, created two years after the end of World War II. The orchestra is on its first U.S. tour, and Knox board members picked this program specially.
“We wanted something accessible, some pieces that are widely played,” said Patricia Smith, a former chairman of the board who is still active with the series. “The Mahler is a nice piece to play at the beginning. I think it sounds so tranquil, it will be a nice way to start the evening.”
The orchestra will then perform Sibelius’ Concerto in D Minor, which is often called “gymnastics for the violin.”
“The (featured violin) player is only 20 years old,” Smith said. “I think the young people will enjoy seeing something that is described as such a challenge.”
The performance concludes with Brahams’ Symphony No. 4, which is one of the composers last symphonies.
“We all listen to symphonic music at some point — movies, commercials, TV shows — it’s part of our subconscious,” Smith said. “It’s a nice opportunity to be able to embrace it in its full form.”
Single tickets for the performance are $40. Tickets for the remaining season are $130, which include “Romeo and Juliet” and “Les Sylphides” by the Russian National Ballet in February, stringed instrument ensemble Bowfire in March and country music star Vince Gill in April.
For tickets or more information, contact Ann Garner at 256-237-3464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.