RALEIGH —The North Carolina Symphony’s popular outdoor concerts return for another season as the Rex Healthcare Summerfest Series brings thrilling music for relaxed listening to Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre. This summer marks the 27th anniversary of performances at Regency Park and the orchestra’s twelfth season in the stunning lakeside pavilion built by the Town of Cary.
Most performances begin at 7:30 p.m., but concertgoers may bring picnics, blankets and lawn chairs as early as 5:00 p.m. to enjoy the striking surroundings before the music begins. Children twelve and under are free, so attending a North Carolina Symphony concert at Booth Amphitheatre is a wonderful summer bargain.
Some of music’s most exciting offerings—as well as costume contests, instrument zoos for the kids, games, prizes, fireworks and so much more—make these evening performances under the pines a special treat for everyone in the family.
Summerfest Opening Night launches your summer of music on May 26, featuring Play with the Pros. Enjoy the evening as the Triangle’s most gifted citizen musicians of all ages join forces with Resident Conductor and Summerfest Artistic Director William Henry Curry and the North Carolina Symphony in a robust evening of classical masterpieces, including Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, “Great,” and Mussorgsky’s dramatic A Night on Bald Mountain. Also included on the program will be Grieg’s Suite from Peer Gynt, best-loved, perhaps, for its iconic, dream-like depiction of the troll courtiers, gnomes and goblins of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”
The summer celebration continues on Sunday, June 3 with Rhapsody in Blue, highlighting great works by Leonard Bernstein and more, including of course George Gershwin. Music Director Grant Llewellyn conducts a sophisticated program that features guest pianist Clara Yang, who has been praised by critics for her “superb techniques and extraordinary musical understanding” (Peninsula Reviews) and “broad palette of color as well as finely graduated dynamics” (Classical Voice North Carolina). A faculty member of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she’s a rising star not to be missed.
By popular demand, Maestro Curry and the orchestra will revisit a program that was rained out last year. On Saturday, June 9, the Symphony presents works that celebrate the wonders of the natural world. The concert, titled The Pines of Rome, features Respighi’s titular, best-loved work, as well as Grofé’s evocative Grand Canyon Suite and Rimsky-Korsakov’s virtuosic Flight of the Bumblebee. Nor has the orchestra forgotten the animal kingdom, both on land and sea, with Elgar’s The Wild Bears from the Wand of Youth Suite No. 2 and Hovhaness’s haunting And God Created Whales, which features underwater recordings of humpback whale songs.
Fables for Families on Saturday, June 16 brings beloved stories to life musically as Maestro Curry and the North Carolina Symphony perform The Witch’s Ride from Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, John Williams’s soaring music from Harry Potter and more. Also on this program is a work loved by children of absolutely every age, Prokofiev’s charming and entertaining Peter and the Wolf, with narrator Heather Patterson King.
On Saturday, June 23, associate conductor Sarah Hicks takes us back a few decades for Totally 80s Rewind. Check the back of your closet for your favorite Miami Vice looks and rock out to great hits of the 80s like “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Every Breath You Take,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and “Thriller.” It will be a totally Big Hair kind of night!
If it’s romance you seek, look no further than Romeo and Juliet on Saturday, June 30. This delightful program pays homage to Shakespeare’s famously star-crossed lovers with music by Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky, as well as Bernstein’s modern-day counterparts, Tony and Maria, in the Overture to West Side Story. Concertgoers will also hear two well-known selections from Mendelssohn’s delightful A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as Dvořák’s Othello Overture, Op. 93. Actors Jon Mozes, Katja Hill and David McClutchey will provide additional onstage impact with performances of favorite Shakespeare scenes.
Summerfest finishes up on Saturday, July 7 with associate conductor Sarah Hicks and A Night in Paris. Enjoy great hits by Paris’s most famous musical denizens, including Edith Piaf and Django Reinhart. Gershwin’s An American in Paris provides plenty of oh-la-la for our grand finale evening.
As always, the Symphony will be at Booth Amphitheatre on Wednesday, July 4 for all the excitement, fireworks and patriotic favorites of the Triangle’s best Independence Day celebration.
Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh’s Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts is home to the North Carolina Symphony Pops Series, opening on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28-29 with The Music of Ray Charles.
Resident conductor William Henry Curry and the orchestra honor an American original at this tribute to the great Ray Charles, featuring his protégé, friend and fellow Georgia native, Ellis Hall. One-time front man of the legendary Tower of Power and versatile character voice on television shows and movies like Big Momma’s House, Chicken Run and Catch Me If You Can, Hall will turn in an energetic evening of unforgettable soul hits.
This season, Holiday Pops moves to a new weekend. Join the Symphony at this popular holiday tradition on Dec. 21-22 for all the joy and excitement of the winter season. Enjoy yuletide favorites, orchestral masterworks, the always highly anticipated Christmas carol sing-along and more!
Jan. 18-19, 2013, brings Wicked Divas to the concert hall with showstoppers from Broadway, opera and popular music. Along with favorites from the Tony Award-winning musical Wicked, William Henry Curry conducts selections from Gypsy, Ragtime, Titanic and Carmen in a night of big voices, big personalities and wicked good vocals.
Fresh off of the release of his 13th studio album, Heart and Soul, Grammy Award-winner Kenny G joins the Symphony, March 1-2, 2013, for a night dedicated to the music that has made him one of the premier artists in contemporary jazz.
Kenny G’s collaborations with artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Whitney Houston, Aaron Neville, Natalie Cole and Smokey Robinson, as well as solo albums of his own, have made him the biggest-selling instrumental musician of the modern era, with global sales totaling more than 75 million. Sarah Hicks conducts this master of smooth jazz in his debut with the North Carolina Symphony.
On April 19-20, 2013, Music Director Grant Llewellyn leads the orchestra in The Music of John Williams. This recipient of nearly 50 Academy Award nominations and North Carolina Symphony audience favorite is the creative force behind some of the most spellbinding musical themes of our time. From Harry Potter and Star Wars to the Olympic anthem Summon the Heroes, John Williams has left an indelible mark on modern music.
During his time at the Boston Symphony, Llewellyn worked closely with Williams in his capacity as conductor of the Boston Pops, and Grant will share his impressions of the composer with the audience. Experience the full impact of his music, live, in this evening of the composer’s most electrifying scores.
The Pops Series winds up on May 10-11, 2013, with a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious celebration of Disney enchantment. Resident Conductor William Curry takes us on fabulous journey of sound with Disney in Concert: Magical Music from the Movies. Hear the orchestra perform music from Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, Aladdin, The Lion King and many, many more. Celebrated vocalists, along with rare original storyboard art and video from the Disney archives, bring these enchanting melodies to life on stage.
To subscribe, or for information about subscription options to any of the Symphony’s 2012/13 concert series across the state, visit the North Carolina Symphony season tickets page at www.ncsymphony.org/subscriptions or call North Carolina Symphony Audience Services at 919.733.2750 or toll free 877.627.6724.
Booth Amphitheatre is located at 8003 Regency Parkway in Cary, N.C.
Meymandi Concert Hall is located in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., in Raleigh.