Free Concert At River Heritage Park Closes Symphony Season

Apr. 9, 2009


CONCERT HAS BEEN MOVED TO NORTON AUDITORIUM.

Sypmphony at the Movies

FLORENCE, Ala. – The Shoals Symphony at UNA will present a rare Saturday evening concert at an exciting new venue – River Heritage Park on the Tennessee River – at 7 p.m. May 2. Admission is free and open to the public.

The event is an effort to increase community awareness of the symphony and draw those who haven’t attended previous performances, which are typically held on Sunday afternoon. The concert is a joint effort by the city of Florence, the University of North Alabama and the Shoals Symphony at UNA.

“Symphony at the Movies” promises an entertaining evening for the whole family, with music from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “Chicago.” The finale will feature the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky and a fireworks show.

“The Shoals Symphony at UNA’s mission is to enhance the cultural life of residents of the Shoals through musical performance and education,” said Allen Wall, president of the symphony’s board. “By offering a free concert to all Shoals residents, we are attempting to expose the community to the great performing arts program offered at the University of North Alabama via the Shoals Symphony.

“Our goal with offering this concert is to create a fun venue that will increase awareness and attendance to the last concert of the 2008-09 season; and open up exciting possibilities for the 2009-10 season and beyond,’’ Wall said.

Conductor Viljar P. Weimann, who consistently and effectively combines the classical and popular music catalogues for Shoals Symphony performances, said this concert will be even more entertaining than usual.

“Classical music concerts do and should always have an educational element to them: You hear something new or learn something about a composer, etc. This concert has none of that. You just have to come with your chair or blanket and enjoy your evening and let the music take you down memory lane to some of the most beautiful and memorable movies of the past,” Weimann said.

Two guest soloists – an electric guitar player and a singer – will add another dimension to the concert, Weimann said.

Bruce Howart, who plays the horn in the orchestra, will show off his electric guitar talents and the arrangements he’s created of “Reeling in the Years,” “Classical Gas,” “Where Were You” and “Tumeni Notes.”

“This is going to be a very interesting collaborative mix of classical and rock music,” Weimann said. “You do not want to miss that.”

The second soloist, singer Danita Luna, who recently moved to the Shoals, will offer a mellower song collection that should have listeners floating on air under the night stars with “Sweet Dreams,” “At Last” and “Colors of the Wind,” the latter from the sound track for Walt Disney’s “Pocahontas.”

A grand festive and patriotic piece, the 1812 Overture, written to commemorate Russia’s defense of Moscow against Napoleon’s advancing army, will close out the evening.

“This is a tour-de-force piece for a full symphony and will challenge every player in the orchestra,” Weimann said. “A unique element in this piece is that it calls for the use of canons at the end. If everything goes well, we will have some canons out there shooting in synchronization with the orchestra.”

Special seating at the concert will be available for symphony season-ticket holders. Others attending should bring lawn chairs or blankets. Coolers will be allowed and some beverages and food items will be offered for sale at the event.

The concert is made possible in part by a grant from the Alabama State Council of the Arts and by corporate sponsor TNT Fireworks, of Florence.

The River Heritage Park, which opened in May 2008, is located near the Wilson Dam in Florence between the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa and the Florence Conference Center. The orchestra will play from under the 4,000-square-foot pavilion. There should be plenty of room for the crowd on the large lawn between the playground area and fountain. Lawn space is first-available for non-season-ticket holders, so arrive early for the best spot.

As this season ends, the symphony is already making plans for the next, and tickets will be on sale at the May 2 event for the 2009-10 season. For more information, visit www.una.edu/shoals-symphony.

Contacts: Viljar Puu Weimann, music director/conductor (256) 303-2116 (C), Allen G. Wall, president, (256) 764-1000 (W); Cheryl N. Schmidt, public relations, (256) 443-4173 (C).