There’s a lot to ‘celebrate’ at the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra (HSO), as they get ready to kick off the 2017-2018 season.
“Celebration” on Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Community College Concert Hall is a fitting tribute to Music Conductor Thomas Joiner as he marks his 20th anniversary of serving in the lead artistic role of the HSO. In additional recognition of the celebration, the audience is invited to enjoy anniversary cake and punch immediately following the concert.
“Last September, I was asked about doing something meaningful to mark 20 years,” said Joiner. Although a music faculty member at Furman University and HSO Music Director and Conductor, his professional music roots are as a violinist. Joiner knew he wanted to display and celebrate the versatility of the instrument. “The violin is used in so many musical styles, from classical and country, to bluegrass and rock.”
Focusing on the violin, Joiner then thought back about past artists who have performed with the HSO. “I looked back and three violinists came to mind: Jamie Laval, Andy Carlson, and Dianna Joiner. The HSO performed with all of these artists in concert; each specializing in Celtic, bluegrass, and classical respectively.”
Joiner has a meaningful connection with each performer. Dianna is Joiner’s daughter and an accomplished classical violinist. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, she has completed post-graduate studies in violin and has embarked on her professional concert music career.
Carlson is a former undergraduate student of Joiner when he taught at the University of Georgia. Adept at American fiddle, Carlson now teaches at Dennison University in Granville, Ohio, where he started the Bluegrass music program. He has done studio work for major recording labels and played with such artists at R.E.M. Billy Bragg, and the Cowboy Junkies.
Laval is a noted fiddler exploring and expanding traditional Scottish fiddle music. A native of the Northwest, and now a resident of Tryon, he is lauded on both sides of the Atlantic for his fiddle work that is described as “Celtic Tradition and Innovation.” He is a frequent concert performer, recording artist, teaches courses in traditional playing.
“This really is a celebration of the violin,” said Joiner. “It will be an enjoyable mix with faces that everyone knows. I wanted to create something for all four of us to play (solo and together). All of our paths have been different, and we are all doing very different and interesting things with the violin. It will be a great experience to have us all come together. The result will be a neat program, tinged with nostalgia and the love of friends and family.”
The concert will feature traditional violin works by Mozart, Vivaldi, and Mendelssohn, yet is balanced out with works that feature the creative and artistic strengths of the guest performers.
“From an orchestral point of view, I am excited by composer John Williams’ suite from the film ‘Far and Away.’ It is a beautiful orchestral score that is not as well-known as his other compositions, like ‘Star Wars.’ It is very challenging and creates the Celtic atmosphere to let Jamie really shine.”
Laval relishes the opportunity for a return engagement with the HSO. “Hendersonville has a really special vibe,” he said. “The musicians are there to play. They love music and this is evident in their spirit. They all play at a high professional level.”
Last performing with the HSO in 2013, Laval previously reveled in the chance to “create arrangements and work with the orchestra. That meant a lot.” He is tapping into this creative synergy again by premiering an original work as part of the concert. “Dans Breiz: Folk Dances of Brittany,” employs ancient bagpipe melodies from Brittany in a concerto-style symphonic piece. “It is a 10-minute composition using hauntingly beautiful melodies,” said Laval. “Emotional lamenting to exuberant, vigorous rhythms are all embedded in this work.”
“It is really exciting to be a part of this process; creating something new,” said Joiner. “We (the HSO) help support and create the circumstances to foster these new compositions. It is something the entire Hendersonville community should be excited about, both long-time supporters and people just discovering the symphony this season.”
Laval and Carlson will also present sections that capture and explore their personal musical journeys. “This is my journey in music, and how I feel it can be relevant for other people on their own life journey,” said Laval. “It is a message of figuring out your passion and doing it with a vengeance.”
Looking back over 20 years of musically leading the HSO, Joiner is “humbled to see the years mount. It is unusual for a music director and conductor to be with an orchestra for 20 years. Further, it is humbling that we are still together doing great things.”
Some of Joiner’s artistic highlights through the years have included collaborative works with the Flat Rock Playhouse, partnering with area choirs and dance ensembles, and creating new, innovative performances with regional artists. “Our Beethoven symphony cycle was a personal highlight,” said Joiner. “It was a great achievement for both myself and the orchestra.”
With the benefit of two decades to reflect upon, Joiner is proud of how the HSO continues to thrive, improve, and evolve. “The orchestra has become more professional in so many ways, with just one fact being that the musicians all are paid for their services.” He points out that the HSO is strong due to the commitment of its leadership, its musicians, and the community it serves.
“We are opening our 46th season in September,” said Joiner. “The fact that the HSO still exists, while Hendersonville has changed and grown, and the larger world of symphonic music had endured so many challenges, it is a testament to the orchestra and what it means to the community. We are unique and the HSO maintains its energy and value to the community. We invite everyone to come to our concert, to be a part of our season, and to live our slogan of ‘Be the Music.’ ”
Single reserved seat concert tickets are $40 adults, $20 Generation Now (age 40 and under) and $10 students. In addition, season reserved seat tickets are still available: $155 adults, $100 Generation Now and $35 students for all five season concerts
The Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1971, exists to enrich the Hendersonville and Henderson County communities with live symphonic performances and music education opportunities for youth and adults.
For more information or to purchase season tickets, visit hendersonvillesyphony.org, or call the HSO office at 828-697-5884.