For its 91st season, the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is celebrating the city’s rich ethnic and cultural history.
The 2019-2020 subscription season, “Made in Johnstown,” will offer seven shows that will feature inspiring music paired with world-class performances.
All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the Pitt-Johnstown campus in Richland Township.
Maestro James Blachly said the season is based on The Tribune-Democrat’s “Homelands” series and book that was published in 2010 and featured ethnic communities in Johnstown and its people.
“We want to celebrate the different cultures that make Johnstown what it is,” he said.
“We wanted to find a way to go deeper and celebrate the city, not just its history, but its future. One of the things that makes Johns-town so unique and special is the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity and how these cultures still exist in the city in various ways.”
The season-opening concert, Opening Night! will be held Oct. 19.
The performance will be a Slavic season opener, featuring the Tamburitzans as they perform authentic choreography to Eastern European music for orchestra, including Johannes Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance No. 5” and George Enescu’s “Romanian Rhapsody No. 1.”
The concert will begin with Antonin Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 8 in G Major.”
“They will dance to the Slavonic Dances of Dvorak, which are the very famous and very beloved dances that helped launch Dvorak’s career,” Blachly said.
“This is going to be really fun. I’ve loved the work of the Tamburitzans for decades, so to have a chance to work with them in this context is so exciting.”
The season continues Nov. 9 with Made in Brahms-Town.
The performance will feature Johannes Brahms’ “Symphony No. 1” and selections from Italian operas by Gioachino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini.
“This celebrates the Germanic and Italian cultures that are strong in Johnstown,” Blachly said.
“The Brahms symphonies are the reason I became a professional musician, so I have a really deep-seated love for this music and I’m excited to share that love and devotion with the city. About 50% of orchestra musicians say that Brahms symphonies are their favorite music, so this is going to be a special piece for the them as well.”
For the holidays, the symphony will present The Joys of Christmas! on Dec. 14.
The Christmas Pops concert will feature the Johnstown Symphony Chorus, Inclined to Sing and the Johnstown Symphony Christmas Brass.
“We’ll also have Le Dance Academie performing with the symphony in addition to some special guests,” Blachly said.
Due to popular demand, an additional performance will be held at 3 p.m.
JSO Pops: Movies from Johnstown will be staged on Feb. 8.
The concert will showcase music from “Slap Shot” and “All the Right Moves.”
The evening also will include an Open Mic Night at the Symphony. Those interested in performing with the symphony will audition Oct. 20 for a spot. Additional information can be found at www.johnstownsymphony.org.
“This is going to be epic,” Blachly said.
“We’re going to have memorabilia on display and there’s going to be a lot of surprises.
“For the open mic, we are looking for talents of many kinds. It gives us a chance to hear and get to know the talents of Johns-town.”
On March 14, the symphony will present Romanticism Across Cultures.
The program will include Italian, Polish, African American and Nordic music. Works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frederic Chopin, Jessie Montgomery and Jean Sibelius’ “Symphony No. 2” will be featured.
“These cultures all have the common thread of romanticism,” Blachly said. “We are starting with ‘Don Giovanni’ and it can be considered one of the earliest examples of romanticism. The second half will feature the Scandinavian culture and will feature the music of Sibelius, which is so evocative of that landscape and culture.”
On April 4, a Choral Festival will be presented, featuring the Johnstown Symphony Chorus, Inclined to Sing and local choirs.
The concert is meant to celebrate American music and Johnstown’s choral traditions.
“This is the first time in my tenure that the symphony chorus will have an entire subscription concert to themselves,” Blachly said.
“They are in such an exciting time. Their numbers are growing, the energy is palpable in room at every rehearsal and there’s a joy in the music making.”
The season will close on May 2 with Grand Finale! and it will highlight the music of the British Isles, including Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Guest artist will be world-renowned flutist and composer Chris Norman, who will present a poem about Scotland, “Out of Orkney.”
Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” will be performing with photography accompanying the piece from NASA’s Hubble Telescope.
“ ‘The Planets’ is one of the most massive experiences of orchestral music in the repertoire and we are very excited to perform that as our season finale,” Blachly said.
“In trying to match the size of the experience of Mahler (last season’s finale), this is one of the few pieces that can come close. It’s a tour de force for the orchestra.”
Season tickets are available for $245 and $195 for adults, $155 for senior citizens and $70 for students. Single tickets for the season are $40 for regular and $45 for premium.
For more information or to order tickets, call 814-535-6738 or visit www.johnstownsymphony.org.