Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Season of Symphony: As it cools, Harrisburg gets classical.

Avalon String Quartet. Photo courtesy of Todd Rosenberg.

Avalon String Quartet. Photo courtesy of Todd Rosenberg.

A virtuoso is a musician with masterly ability, technique or personal style. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to look far to find those types right here in the midstate. Just search inside large, elaborate spaces or snug high school auditoriums. There they are. They play Beethoven or Gershwin with ease, and they’re led by the likes of Schafer, Malina or Sirotin. Classy? Yes. Classical? Of course.

Central Pennsylvania Symphony

The 2014-15 season is a special one for this volunteer group of musicians led by Music Director Ronald E. Schafer. The Hummelstown-based orchestra will celebrate its 25th anniversary concert season with an opening performance at The Forum in Harrisburg on Nov. 2 in a program entitled “Eaken Plays Beethoven.” Violin soloist John Eaken will perform Beethoven’s famous “Violin Concerto in D Major.” Audiences also will hear works by Strauss, Dvořák and Stravinsky.

“As a charter board member and musician with the Central Pennsylvania Symphony, it is so exciting to be celebrating 25 years of music-making with such a wonderful family of musicians,” says Bonnie Rannels, violinist and board member with the organization. “There is nothing more rewarding than sharing the gift of music with each other and our audiences.”

And those audiences will celebrate alongside them in April inside the Sheraton Harrisburg/Hershey ballroom at the special event “Celebrate 25,” complete with dinner, a talent showcase and dancing. In between the two performances will be “Christmas Traditions” with pieces from Tchaikovsky and arias from “The Messiah” at Palm Lutheran Church in Palmyra on Dec. 7 and a performance of family favorites—from Berlioz, Copland and others—on Feb. 15 inside Greenwood High School in Millerstown.

Learn more about the Central Pennsylvania Symphony at

Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra

HSO’s Music Director Stuart Malina calls the upcoming pops series one the strongest in memory.

The series begins on Nov. 22 to 23 with “Feel the Force II: The Wrath of Stu,” a sci-fi music weekend featuring a new selection of great movie scores. In January, the tunes change to “classic soul” when singers Capathia Jenkins and Darius de Haas rock The Forum with music from Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and James Brown. The series continues on March 7 to 8 with the return of the death-defying and awe-inspiring “Cirque de la Symphonie” and concludes May 2 to 3 with “An Evening of Rodgers & Hammerstein Classics,” marking the 50th anniversary of the motion picture release of “The Sound of Music.”

Ah, then there’s the October through May Masterworks series, when there’s something for everyone, including Beethoven, Prokofiev, Mozart, Shostakovich, Bernstein and more.

“Every concert features great works of music, representing many different styles and periods,” Malina says. “In November, we will be performing a world premiere clarinet concerto by Jeremy Gill—a dazzling and beautiful new work performed by Chris Grymes. In April, we’ll be performing Brahms’ magnificent ‘German Requiem,’ a piece I have never done before and one of the centerpieces of the choral orchestral repertoire.”

And Malina will set down the baton for a bit and take a seat at the piano to perform Mozart’s powerful “Piano Concerto No. 20” in January.

“The experience of hearing a great orchestra live is unlike any other,” Malina muses. “Once you feel that energy, there’s no going back.”

Malina adds that The Forum will be renovated, making it a more beautiful and more comfortable place to experience great music. The orchestra is also instituting a new educational initiative—an after-school program at the Downey School in Harrisburg.

Learn more about the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra at

Market Square Concerts

From an initial program dedicated to the 100th anniversary of World War I to the final one commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Market Square Concerts’ 2014-15 season is all about intimacy and connection.

Peter Sirotin, the organization’s artistic director, points out that chamber music performed in small spaces can be likened to that of a black box theatrical experience where an audience feels like it’s part of the action.

“Audiences are transported,” he says. “They feel what it’s like to live in that place.”

In a literal sense, “that place” will vary, as it often does, for Market Square Concert-goers. Late last month, the Ariel String Quartet and pianist Orion Weiss opened in Market Square Church with string quartets by Beethoven and Ravel for the WWI dedication. On Nov. 15, the concert series returns there as the award-winning Avalon Quartet performs Schumann and Tchaikovsky.

Temple Ohev Sholom will play host to two of the season’s performances. On Jan. 20, one of the best young violinists in the world today, Kristof Barati from Hungary, will perform Bach and Bartok on the eve of his Carnegie Hall debut. And, on April 25, the Amernet String Quartet will commemorate WWII with a Jewish-themed program of music by Mendelssohn, Schulhoff (who died in the Holocaust), Shostakovich and Weinberg.

On Feb. 28, Trio Solisti with clarinetist Jon Manasse will offer a jazz-influenced program of music inside Rose Lehrman Arts Center at HACC, part of the center’s 40th anniversary. The group of musicians will perform Poulenc, Turina, Milhaud, Piazzolla and Gershwin, and, on March 28, the Donald Sinta Quartet will perform string quartets by Dvořák, Barber, Shostakovich and Grieg’s “Holberg Suite” at Whitaker Center.

Learn more about Market Square Concerts at

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