YSO scales back for 2018-19 season

Financial concerns are forcing the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra to shrink its 2018-19 season from seven to five concerts.

Youngstown Symphony Society President Patricia A. Syak said the orchestra will continue to use other avenues to bring classical music to the Mahoning Valley.

“We have kept the number of pops concerts the same (three) and changed the number of classical concerts we’re doing (from four to two) with the idea as we go on to look for other opportunities to do other forms of classical music.”

Powers Auditorium traditionally is the orchestra’s home, but last month it used the more intimate Ford Family Recital Hall to perform Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and other Baroque-era works.

“It was very, very well attended, and we did a survey and got very favorable results on that type of concert in that particular venue,” Syak said. “We’re looking to do other things of that nature.”

The orchestra also will continue its Stained Glass Concerts in 2018-19 with free performances planned at Holy Family Parish in Poland on Sept. 30, the St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital Chapel in Youngstown on Nov. 4 and St. Patrick Church in Hubbard on March 10, 2019.

The two classical offerings created by YSO Conductor and Artistic Director Randall Craig Fleischer will have some nontraditional elements. The season will open Sept. 29 with “Amadeus Live: Love and Romance.” The concert will include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, arias from his operas sung by soprano Misook Kim and baritone Thomas Scurich and the composer’s letters read by Youngstown Playhouse Operations Manager James McClellan, who has played Mozart in Peter Shaffer’s play “Amadeus.”

A Veterans Day salute on Nov. 3 will include the Youngstown premieres of Paul Murtha’s “In Selfless Service” and Chris Brubeck’s “Quiet Heroes,” a tribute to flag raisers at Iwo Jima during World War II. A video tribute to U.S. veterans will accompany Samuel Barber’s Addagio and Aaron Copland’s “Quiet City.”

“Our classical concerts are not your standard format,” Syak said. “Both are different, and that’s in response to the desire to reach out to new subscribers and single ticket buyers while also not offending any of our longtime, true classical musicgoers.”

Youngstown native Phil Keaggy, formerly of Glass Harp and a Dove Award-winning solo artist, will return for the opening concert of the pops series on Dec. 1. “A Very Merry Christmas” will include a mix of gospel, Christian rock and traditional holiday music performed by the orchestra, Keaggy and the Celebration Community Choir, directed by Pastor Timothy Mattern of North-Mar Church in Warren.

On Feb. 16, 2019, the orchestra will present what is being described as a semi-staged version of the musical “Guys & Dolls,” which includes such songs as “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” The orchestra will be joined by a mix of actors, singers and dancers — both local performers and Broadway veterans — for the concert.

“It’s a way for us to reach out to theatergoers and pops symphony-goers by combining those two elements in a way we haven’t done before,” Syak said.

The pops season will conclude March 9, 2019, for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day concert featuring Celtic violinist Mairead Nesbitt and students from the Burke School of Irish Dance. Nesbitt was a founding member of Celtic Woman and has worked with Fleischer on his classical-rock fusion production Rocktopia.