Springfield Symphony to return for full season

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will have six live concerts and several special shows this season with special guest performers including violinist Sandy Cameron, who will play in the opening show, Mark O'Connor and Carmen Bradford, who will sing with the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra in an Ella Fitzgerald tribute. Contributed photos
Caption
The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will have six live concerts and several special shows this season with special guest performers including violinist Sandy Cameron, who will play in the opening show, Mark O'Connor and Carmen Bradford, who will sing with the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra in an Ella Fitzgerald tribute. Contributed photos

SSO returns for 2021-2022 season with live concerts, several special events and more.

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s (SSO) 2020-2021 season started on a hopeful note. An October 2020 concert was well-received and drew people to the Clark State Performing Arts Center (PAC) excited for live entertainment after lockdown even if it meant wearing masks, social distancing and a smaller orchestra.

That proved the beginning and end of the SSO’s season and the only live event in the PAC’s Kuss Auditorium from the pandemic’s beginning until now as safety precautions prevented large gatherings.

The SSO is back and tagging its 2021-2022 theme “A Season to Celebrate!” with six live concerts, several special events, more shows from the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra and the 20th anniversary of Maestro Peter Stafford Wilson as conductor and music director.

“It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed,” said Wilson. “I wonder if we should even count 2020-2021 since COVID robbed us of our voice. But the calendar doesn’t lie, so we will mark this milestone with the enthusiasm it deserves. We have made extraordinary progress and celebrated many noteworthy accomplishments in those 20 years, but I firmly believe that the best is yet to come.”

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All seven concerts will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evenings at the PAC. The season will open Sept. 18 marking Wilson’s 20th opening night with film composer “Danny Elfman’s Eleven Eleven” with one of Wilson’s first artists, Sandy Cameron, as guest and performing an original violin concerto by Elfman, with additional music from Shostakovich and Bernard Herrmann.

Caption
The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will have six live concerts and several special shows this season with special guest performers including violinist Sandy Cameron, who will play in the opening show, Mark O'Connor and Carmen Bradford, who will sing with the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra in an Ella Fitzgerald tribute. Contributed photos

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will have six live concerts and several special shows this season with special guest performers including violinist Sandy Cameron, who will play in the opening show, Mark O'Connor and Carmen Bradford, who will sing with the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra in an Ella Fitzgerald tribute. Contributed photos
Caption
The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will have six live concerts and several special shows this season with special guest performers including violinist Sandy Cameron, who will play in the opening show, Mark O'Connor and Carmen Bradford, who will sing with the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra in an Ella Fitzgerald tribute. Contributed photos

“Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance” brings a semi-staged romp as part of this light opera on Nov. 13. The SSO will welcome 2022 with “A Serenade of Movement” on Jan. 29 featuring David Amram’s take on the musical partnerships of several composers and incorporate mythological characters with contemporary dialogue.

A bridge of bluegrass, jazz and symphony with the violin as the key ingredient will be a part of “Mark O’Connor Duo with Maggie O’Connor” on March 5.

Caption
The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will have six live concerts and several special shows this season with special guest performers including violinist Sandy Cameron, who will play in the opening show, Mark O'Connor and Carmen Bradford, who will sing with the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra in an Ella Fitzgerald tribute. Contributed photos

Credit: Michael J. Lutch

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will have six live concerts and several special shows this season with special guest performers including violinist Sandy Cameron, who will play in the opening show, Mark O'Connor and Carmen Bradford, who will sing with the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra in an Ella Fitzgerald tribute. Contributed photos
Caption
The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will have six live concerts and several special shows this season with special guest performers including violinist Sandy Cameron, who will play in the opening show, Mark O'Connor and Carmen Bradford, who will sing with the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra in an Ella Fitzgerald tribute. Contributed photos

Credit: Michael J. Lutch

Credit: Michael J. Lutch

A beloved performer’s 100th birthday is marked in song with “Get Happy! A Judy Garland Celebration” with Joan Ellison doing a one-woman tribute backed by the SSO on April 16.

Music from classical masters Verdi and Wagner will wrap up the season May 21 with “Of Love and Death” with special guests the SSO Chorale.

The pandemic period found the SSO recommitted to collaborations in programming partnerships with Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center and locally the PAC, Clark County Public Library, Springfield Museum of Art and Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co.

“Through these partnerships, we wish to further an environment of openness, supporting diversity and allowing for feedback and equitable inclusion,” said Lou Ross, SSO executive director.

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The Tap Room Series at Mother Stewart’s will coincide with three holidays, while Music at the Museum will tie into a new exhibit on Feb. 19 at the Museum of Art, “Tunes-n-Tales” at the library on April 3 and various young people’s concerts throughout the season.

The Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra was just hitting its stride when its first season was halted by the pandemic. The group led by Springfield native Todd Stoll will perform two concerts at the John Legend Theater.

These include “Nothing but the Blues” on Oct. 16 and “Ella Fitzgerald, First Lady of Song” on March 26. Admission cost $25 each and are available at the Dome box office.

A bright note during the pandemic was the level of support from SSO patrons and donors, according to Ross. Donations last year were nearly equal to the previous season.

“We are humbled and so appreciative of these amazing supporters helping to keep the SSO going through these lean times,” he said, adding thanks for the legislative support from the State of Ohio and the U.S. Government for additional funding.

As the season draws near, patrons are suggested to watch for any updates regarding health and safety guidelines.

“We want everyone to stay safe and healthy while enjoying live performances again this season,” Ross said. “We continue to be in touch with the Clark County Combined Health District for updates on new guidelines and suggested courses of action and we recommend that patrons consider wearing masks when seated close to other patrons in the auditorium.”

To purchase tickets or for more information on shows, visit the SSO’s web page or social media pages.

Wilson won’t let any of that spoil the celebration.

“COVID has reminded us of the frailty of life and of the intense need we have as human beings for a sense of community. There is no better fulfillment of that need than a concert of great music. We have a variety of such events planned for this coming season, something to satisfy every conceivable musical taste. Each program is an event, each concert a celebration. Come join in the fun.”

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