Springfield Symphony opens season Saturday

Work of film composers to be highlighted in first live show since last October.

The Clark State Performing Arts Center’s Kuss Auditorium has been nearly silent since March 2020. Temporarily shattering that silence was a “Welcome Home” concert by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) in October 2020 before things went quiet again.

This will come full-circle as the SSO will again launch live entertainment in the venue in opening up its 2021-2022 season and Maestro Peter Stafford Wilson’s 20th anniversary as music director and conductor at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the PAC.

While the SSO has done smaller shows with fewer musicians including the Summer Arts Festival – and possibly picked up new fans from online concert replays – this is the comeback Wilson and the artists have longed for.

“As we emerge from this pandemic, we have an opportunity to reconnect with our audiences and embrace those who may have found us during this turbulent time through our online offerings. I felt that a ‘cross-over’ program would help us do just that,” Wilson said.

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Danny Elfman may not be an immediately recognizable name, but for movie fans, he’s an unsung hero, composing the scores to dozens of blockbuster films including “Batman,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Edward Scissorhands” and television themes including “The Simpsons” and “Desperate Housewives.” Wiilson said many of Elfman’s scores “combine a slightly diabolical sound with enormous hope and beauty.”

But Wilson didn’t choose Elfman just based on his cinematic talent, but his versatility.

“The music of film composers has long been a way to reach audiences that may lack understanding of the symphony orchestra, but certainly embrace its sonic influence on the experience,” he said. “Danny Elfman has one of those totally unique sounds in film score writing and his foray into a strictly symphonic work is fascinating.”

Elfman’s “Eleven Eleven” concerto for violin and orchestra will demonstrate that versatility. To bring the violin section to life, Wilson chose Sandy Cameron, one of the earliest artists to share the Kuss stage with him, as guest performer.

The program will begin with another famous film composer, Bernard Herrman’s Mount Rushmore music from the classic Alfred Hitchcock film “North by Northwest” and excerpts from Suite from “The Gadfly” by Dimitri Shostakovich, arranged by Levon Atovmyan.

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Wilson chose these composers’ works as Elfman has indicated on several occasions their distinct influences on his compositional style. And the scores represented two of Wilson’s favorites from this repertoire.

“It will be a thrill for all of us onstage to be back in front of a live audience, the most important ingredient in a performance,” he said.

Masks are required upon entry into the PAC for this performance and for all events there and at the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center.


What: Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Danny Elfman’s Eleven Eleven

Where: Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 South Fountain Ave., Springfield

When: Saturday, Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m.

Admission: $40.40-66.00

More info: 937-325-8100 or go to www.springfieldsym.org/

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