Symphony Up and Running 

New season kicks off with Schumann, Strauss and Brahms

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The Colorado Springs Symphony kicks off its new season on Friday, Sept. 20, with something old, something new, and an "onomatopoeic tone-poem" to boot. Conducted by Lawrence Leighton Smith, this All-Orchestral Season Premiere will feature three diverse, transatlantic pieces that stretch both stylistic and chronological bounds.

Beginning with Schumann's "American Festival Opener," a "brash and brassy" reveille, the symphony will commence what may be its most eye-catching Classical Series lineup in recent memory. Strauss' "Don Juan" will be performed second, and the angst-ridden Symphony No. 2 in D major by Brahms will conclude the evening.

The premiere program, boasting both an adventurous and challenging triumvirate, may be as much a reflection of its creator, as it is of the popular demand for artistic ebullience. Smith, who programmed the entire 2002-2003 Classical Series, says his selections evoke a personal nostalgia.

"The Symphony in D major [Brahms] was the first piece I ever learned to conduct," says Smith, "and it has always rung a special bell for me." Indeed, the emotionally charged piece contains something almost "neurotic and brutally passionate" immediately attracting listeners with its earnestness.

Schumann's piece, which is only half a century old, represents the "new blood" of the program, though "Don Juan," a 19th-century piece, may impress some concertgoers with its surprisingly intrepid modernity. Derived from a poem by Nicholas Lenau, and based on the classic tale of a fast and loose Latin lover, the piece is best described as what Smith calls "a tone poem -- in symphonic form." Clearly, great music, like poetry, lies predominantly in how its story is told -- and for the Colorado Springs Symphony, a new chapter is about to begin.

--Joe Kuzma


Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra

All-Orchestral Season Premiere

Pikes Peak Center, 120 S. Cascade Ave.

Fri.-Sat., Sept. 20-21, 8 p.m.

Sun., Sept 22 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: $10-$50. Call 633-6698 or 520-SHOW.

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