DSO: Grieg & Stravinsky

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2017 – 2018 Classics Series
The Classics Series consists of five programs with two performances each

Star Crossed Lovers
Five Flags Theater
Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, March 25 at 2:00 pm
Bernstein “Somewhere” from West Side Story
Tchaikovsky  Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
Gounod Selections from Roméo et Juliette
Prokofiev Selections from Romeo and Juliet ballet
“Romeo and Juliet” has inspired many composers over the centuries, and these concerts will present amazing, dramatic music by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Gounod and Bernstein.   Acting the title roles with the orchestra will be Max Roll and Sarah Hartmann, featured at our October 2016 Classics concerts.  In addition, singing the title roles will be Dubuque’s own Craig Allen and Megan Gloss. 

West Side Story
Five Flags Theater
Friday, April 13 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 14 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 15 at 2:00 pm
The DSO breaks new ground by presenting its first staged musical, West Side Story, in honor of the centennial of composer Leonard Bernstein in 2018.  Partnering with the wonderful Heartland Ballet, and with a cast of professionals who grew up in Dubuque and Tri-States, this will be a not-to-be-missed event!   An extra performance has been added on Friday evening April 13thBased on a conception of Jerome Robbins, Book by Arthur Lurentis, Music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Choreography by Marina O’Rourke  WEST SIDE STORY is presented through special arrangement with Music Theater International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com

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In addition to the Classics Series, the symphony also announces the dates of its Casual Concerts, including Holiday Family (December 2, 2017), traditional Holiday Concerts (December 2-3, 2017), Ultimate Rock Hits (January  19-20, 2018), Spring Family Concert featuring cinematic and classical favorites for all ages, with themed post-concert events (March 24, 2018), the NEW Ultimate Country Hits (May 19, 2018) and free Summer Melodies Concert (June 24, 2018).

Single Tickets

Single tickets go on sale August 21, 2017. Tickets to concerts at Five Flags Theater may be purchased at the Five Flags Box Office or through Ticketmaster. Single tickets to Ultimate Rock or Ultimate Country at the Mississippi Moon Bar will be available through the Diamond Jo box office this fall.

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365ink Feature Interview with William Intrilligator

Be Moved …
by the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra’s 2017–18 Season

by Bryce Parks

This year’s Dubuque Symphony Orchestra (DSO) season, entitled “Be Moved” features lively dance suites sprinkled throughout the Classics performances. The season culminates with a fully staged production of the musical West Side Story. Outstanding guest artists, actors and vocalists join the orchestra to perform some of the world’s most beloved symphonies as well as new works.

The ensemble will perform five Classics concerts, signature Holiday concerts, and a Spring Family concert at historic Five Flags Theater. The orchestra also returns to the Mississippi Moon Bar at the Diamond Jo for DSO’s Ultimate Rock Hits and the NEW Ultimate Country Hits. The orchestra also will perform a free outdoor program at the Dubuque Arboretum June, 2018. Visit DubuqueSymphony.org for full concert information and dates.

Season tickets are currently available for purchase at the DSO office, and single show tickets go on sale Aug. 21 at Five Flags. Season packages of three, four or five Classics concerts are priced as low as $14 per concert. New subscribers to the Full-5 Classics Series receive a 30 percent discount off single ticket prices. Season ticket holders receive many exclusive benefits including: early access to the best seats for concerts—including Ultimate Rock Hits and Ultimate Country Hits at the Diamond Jo, discounted add-on tickets for Classics concerts anytime during the season, avoiding online ticket fees and more! To order, please call 563-557-1677 or stop in the DSO office, 2728 Asbury Rd. (lower level of the Atrium building in Fountain Park).

Tickets to individual concerts at Five Flags Theater may be purchased beginning Aug. 21 at the Five Flags Box Office or through Ticketmaster. Single tickets to Ultimate Rock or Ultimate Country at the Mississippi Moon Bar will be available through the Diamond Jo box office this fall.

With the 60th Anniversary Season of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra one year away, there’s no phoning it in this season. It would seem that topping all of the creative and exciting performances slated for this current 59th Season will be hard to do. But don’t take our word for it, let Music Director and Conductor of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, William Intriligator, tell you what’s so special in his own words.

But before we let William get too excited about the next season, we thought, after touring the offices and meeting the symphony staff, that you should first understand just how much the DSO does year-round outside of the marquee performances. It’s impressive to say the least.

“We have a lot of education programs and when we say education, we’re trying to make an impact in all ages and stages of life,” explains William Intriligator. “We send our musicians to area nursing homes every year, funded by a generous gift from our Symphony League. We have three youth orchestras— and this year we are adding a brand new youth wind ensemble. These ensembles meet every week during the school year and hold three concerts a year. The Youth Symphony, the top level of those groups, is already in its 48th season.”

“We also have free Arts Trek education concerts that the DSO performs each year for over 4,600 area 3rd and 5th graders. We also send our DSO musicians into area 4th grade classrooms in a program called Adopt a Musician. Fourteen schools currently participate. A symphony musician is assigned to an elementary school and visits throughout the year, demonstrating their instrument, engaging the students in activities and encouraging them to play a musical instrument. In reaching out to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students, we hope that by 6th grade they’re playing an instrument and able to participate in our youth ensembles. We see a continuum in that way.”

“We also have fund raising events and other things that are more behind the scenes, like private home recitals, featuring either our symphony musicians or guest artists that are featured in our concerts. And, of course, we do the concert at the Arboretum every summer, which is a great way to reach out to hundreds of potentially new fans.”

As far as the upcoming season of staged performances at Five Flags Theater and with a big milestone approaching, William and crew feel like it’s time for change.

“We’re coming up on our 60th anniversary next year and we’re looking for ways to reshape things and mix things up a bit.”

Joining the recent Ultimate Rock Hits addition to the season lineup is the new Ultimate Country Hits, at the Mississippi Moon Bar in the Diamond Jo Casino, on May 19, 2018.

“We love to do the rock and country shows to reach a new audience, and if the audience is inspired to attend our Classics or Holiday concerts, what a great bonus! We perform the Mississippi Moon Bar concerts to show the wide range of music that the DSO can perform, and we have a great time doing it. We are also looking at our regular Classics season concerts and adjusting them to make them even more accessible to a broader audience who maybe have not come yet to the symphony. Perhaps the classics concerts could look a little different in the future. Maybe different formats, like pairing a whole feature film with the live orchestra, or more of a party/cocktail sort of situation before or after the performance. We’re exploring a lot of different options at this point. We also started putting film composers like John Williams on the Classics Concerts and will continue to do things like that.”

“West Side Story—our Classics season finale on April 13, 14, and 15, 2018—is super exciting. I first learned to love that musical after seeing the film. I’ve conducted the West Side Story symphonic dances, a 25 minute suite from the musical, but I’ve never done the whole musical. Though I’ve done a lot of opera and many numbers from musicals, I don’t think I’ve ever conducted an entire musical before—It’s a first for the Dubuque Symphony as well.”

William admits that staging the musical with a full cast will be a challenge. Most of the symphony will be performing from the pit, which is pretty small, so some performers will have to find unique spaces to fit in. But even with that challenge, he’s not concerned.

“It’s going to work out great,” he says with enthusiasm. “We’re working with Marina O’Rourke and the Heartland Ballet. She is going to choreograph and direct it. Marina is wonderful and has a beautiful vision for how it’s going to work on stage. We’ve been meeting throughout the summer, and going over the fine details even though it’s not going to be on stage until next April.”

“The other thing that’s exciting about West Side Story is that it’s bringing back a lot of local Dubuquers who have gone on to careers in music. Sarah Ellis returns to perform with the symphony playing the role of Maria, Matthew Richardson as Tony, Sydney Mei Ruf-Wong as Anita and more, plus a good number of performers from the Heartland Ballet—it is a musical about teenagers after all.”

“I’m also really looking forward to doing a premiere piece by Michael Gilbertson (a young award-winning composer originally from Dubuque) along with my long time friend Manny Laureano from my days in Minneapolis. He’s the principal trumpet of the Minnesota Orchestra and Michael is writing a trumpet concerto specifically for Manny to premiere with us.”

“I’m very excited to welcome back our long-time beloved former Concertmaster Caroline Curtis. She’ll play a double violin concerto, with our current Concertmaster, Eleanor Bartsch. It’s going to be very special to have these two amazing violinists performing together.”

“Our Principal Clarinetist, Corey Mackey, is a real star with us. He’s got a great personality as well as incredible musicianship. This season he will be featured in Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, which has such a beautiful range of musicality in it, from soft slow tender music, to wild jazzy stuff.”

“There are a lot of great pieces we will be performing that I’m excited to sink my teeth into, musically, like the Greig’s Holberg Suite, de Falla’s Suite from The Three-Cornered Hat, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, The Capriol Suite—we’ve got a lot of dance suites sprinkled throughout the season, it’s a theme for us, inspired by the dance in West Side Story.”

“We’re doing a Romeo & Juliet themed performance, also inspired by West Side Story, since that musical is a 20th-century adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. We decided to take several composers’ musical versions of Romeo & Juliet and put them together with actors and singers to create an evening of drama and music. It will really be more of a dramatic evening than a concert, featuring segments from famous Romeo & Juliet adaptations by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Gounod. It will be blended together in a seamless flow with the performances of the actors. That’s coming up in March of 2018.”

“The family concert, also in March, is going to be pretty cool, too. We’ve got music from video games and from the movies. It will include pieces from The Force Awakens, Beauty and the Beast, Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and a suite called Video Games Live. The audience is invited to come in costume and enjoy after concert activities as well.”

That’s a big, overstuffed season of incredible classical music, but Intriligator is has no reservations, because the performers in the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra can handle anything he throws at them.

“We so fortunate that the orchestra just keeps getting better and better. The players are performing at such a high level. It’s always a pleasure for me to work with them.”

The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra features players who have won audition spots from as far as Indiana and Minneapolis, with many players regularly commuting from Madison and Chicago. Naturally, the Tri-State region still contributes a great many talents to the line-up.

“It says a lot about the orchestra that, in the region, our reputation is pretty high. Our brass players often remind me that we have one of the best brass sections in the Midwest, hands down, so I do love to feature them when I can. Our new concertmaster, Eleanor Bartsch, is doing a great job as well. I want to give a shout out her. That position is a really important leadership position which sets the tone for the level of the orchestra.”

But not all of the symphony’s stars are on stage.

“We’ve got a great staff. My goodness, the staff of this symphony orchestra office works so hard, full-time, year round, behind the scenes to make these concerts and educational programs possible. Add to that a great Board of Directors and a dedicated group of volunteers in the Symphony League, so we have very much to be grateful for; it’s a very good thing.”

While the symphony looks to celebrate 60 years in 2018, it’s really a gross mischaracterization of the group’s history. After World War II, like so many organizations, they went away for a while, re-forming in 1958. This is the date they count from. Yet, in reality, the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra has ties more than 100 years back. On the occasion of the 60 year anniversary, Intriligator wonders if they should embrace that true history and count the years of the full history of the symphony. Most organizations that paused during and after the war already do.

As we mentioned earlier, changes for the future seem to be high on the to-do list for the symphony, keeping their current fans happy, but also attracting new fans from new generations.

“In a way it’s hard to be one of the oldest arts institutions in town and at the same time stay fresh. We’ve prided ourselves on the innovative things that we’ve done over the years. And that’s saying something, since orchestras, in general, are ancient institutions.”

“We’re so lucky to have a world class symphony in a community the size of Dubuque, but we can’t rest on our laurels. While we have individual season ticket holders that have been getting annual seats for over 50 years, we also have to reach out to a new generation and keep it fresh.”

“Do we change our concert dress? Do we have more wine and food before shows? Craft cocktails and a more interactive experience? More visuals at the concerts?” asks Intriligator. “I’d love to do more things incorporating soundtracks, food and wine, actors and more. We’re open to ideas and I want to reach out to people for input.”

The fact is, people that currently don’t come to the symphony are already missing out on a lot of music they love. They’re playing soundtracks to familiar movies. Classic pieces of music are recognizable in other parts of pop culture and close the gap between generations enjoying symphonic performance. So they’re often playing great classical music that many people actually know.

“Our audiences love the intimacy of Five Flags Theater. They love that the musicians are right there. There is a very clear sound. There’s nothing like the live performance. They also love that it’s an evening out with restaurants within walking distance and good parking.”

So what’s left on William’s bucket list? He quickly reaches over and picks up a score book for Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and shows it to me. There’s some Mahler and Wagner also on his list, but these, like the Stravinsky, all require very large orchestras. The Rite of Spring would barely fit on the Five Flags Stage according the William, but he’s dreaming of ways to make it work for the 60th Season. Look for more staged opera in the future, too, he promises.

It seems like William and crew pulled the stops out for this season. We wonder how they can possibly pull more stops for the 60th Anniversary season to top it. At the end of the interview I said, “You’ll have to come out on stage on fire!” He paused and said “Oooooh!” with wide eyes and big smile.

“There’s nothing like the live performance!”

Check out the centerfold on this issue for more information on all this season’s performances and additional ticket information.

March 24 2018


Start: March 24 @ 7:30 PM
End: April 15 @ 5:00 PM
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Dubuque, IA 52001 United States

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