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Symphonic sounds settle over Gainesville
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Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Part of The Arts Council's 2009 Summer Series

When: Gates open at 6 p.m. Friday; performance starts at 8
Where: The Arts Council's Smithgall Arts Center, 331 Spring St. SW, Gainesville
How much: $25 or $240 for table for eight
More info: 770-534-2787

Feeling too pinched to afford a European vacation this summer?

Well, fear not - the annual Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concert presented by The Arts Council will whisk you away to Europe, the United Kingdom and back to the South all for a mere $25 ticket.

The Friday night concert will conclude The Arts Council's 2009 Summer Series with conductor Mei-Ann Chen at the helm.

"To save their airfare, their gasoline, we're going to take (the audience) to travel the different landscapes of the world," Chen said.

The program starts with a dramatic overture, Felix Mendelssohn's "The Hebrides," about a cave in Scotland, then it moves to the English countryside with a folk song by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The concert then goes to the Viennese woods with a traditional waltz.

"A waltz tradition is very much an outdoor must-have in Europe, and we're bringing that here as well," Chen said.

The second half of the concert explores Broadway classics, with tunes from "Lord of the Dance," "Camelot" and "Oklahoma."

"We end near the water as well, with one of the most gorgeous waltzes, ‘On the Beautiful Blue Danube," she said. "We have an encore as a surprise."

Want to know what it is? You'll have to be at the show.

Picking out the tunes was very much a team effort, Chen said, that included the symphony's general manager, artistic planner, librarian and personnel manager. Plus, they kept in mind what the Hall County audience might like and tailored the final list to suit that need.

This is the 34th year the Atlanta Symphony will be performing a summer concert in Gainesville, said Gladys Wyant, executive director of The Arts Council.

"It's great to be able to present a world-class orchestra - they received a number of Grammy awards and they have traveled around the world - and to have them in our backyard," Wyant said. "Also, it continues to build audiences for symphonic music and for our local Gainesville Symphony."

Also, performing outdoors is a fun challenge for the orchestra, Chen added.

"It really gives us a chance to connect with an audience that might not come to our concert hall on a regular basis, and music is a language all its own. ... So it's wonderful to go there and use music as wonderful communication to connect with the audience in Gainesville," she said.

"But also, when (the musicians) perform in different venues, they listen differently.

"So for them to be instantly adjusting to a different environment, even though it's challenging, at the same time it sharpens them."

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