Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ernest shares his excitement for "Christmas with the Symphony!"

Check out Ernest on YouTube... and while you're at it, become a "follower" of the Omaha Symphony Blog!

Thanks for checking in & HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Get ready for a rich, resonant Handel's Messiah

"Every conductor has a "Messiah" story.

Thomas Wilkins still talks about the one he conducted in college."

To read the rest of John Pitcher's story in the Omaha World-Herald, click here.

Get your tickets to Handel's Messiah!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vivaldi verdict

The Omaha World-Herald's John Pitcher reviewed Friday's performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Read his review here...

For tickets, call 342-3560 or visit us at

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thomas on Handel's Messiah

The Omaha Symphony has found a new way to connect with music lovers -- YouTube. Check out our channel @ All updates will be posted right here on the blog and on our official Web site,

Here Thomas discusses Handel's Messiah in 2 parts...
In part 1, learn more about why this piece is so special.

In part 2, learn why people stand during the famous "Hallelujah" chorus.

Vivaldi violinist shares concert insight

Read all about it!

The Omaha World-Herald's John Pitcher talks to guest artist Margaret Batjer about her instrument and this weekend's Vivaldi's Four Seasons concert.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bring canned food to upcoming concerts...


ConAgra Foods Arts for the Holidays Celebration Begins November 21

The Omaha Symphony, Omaha Performing Arts, and Opera Omaha are proud to announce the kick off of the ConAgra Foods Arts for the Holidays Celebration on Friday, November 21, 2008. This collaborative event is sponsored by ConAgra Foods and will feature a food drive at the Holland Performing Arts Center and Orpheum Theater. Patrons are encouraged to bring canned food and other non-perishable items to both venues when attending any performance through December 31, 2008. All donations will support The Food Bank of Omaha.
“Hunger is an issue that affects millions of Americans across the country, including more than 300,000 people in the Heartland who benefit from The Food Bank and the more than 50,000 people in Douglas County who live below the poverty line,” said Kori Reed, executive director, ConAgra Foods Foundation. “As part of our Shine the Light on Hunger campaign, during Omaha’s Holiday Lights Festival, we are proud to collaborate with our community arts organizations to raise more food and funds for The Food Bank, ultimately making a difference in the fight against hunger.”In addition to the collection of canned food and other non-perishable items, informational exhibits promoting awareness about child hunger and nutrition will also be displayed at both the Holland Performing Arts Center and Orpheum Theater.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Keeping Score!

Have you ever felt lost at a symphony concert? Like you didn't know what to listen for? Like you didn't understand the piece's background?

Well, we're trying something new this weekend for the Vivaldi's Four Seasons concert, called "Keeping Score," designed to help you find more meaning in the music!

It's the brainchild of guest conductor Michael Christie. "Keeping Score" is a short, easy to follow “real time” guide to the music being performed, including brief notations about the composer’s intentions and the orchestra’s interpretation of the music. Keeping Score was created to give the listener immediate information about the piece of music being played as the performance occurs. Descriptive terms are used to assist the listener in identifying musical gestures and pointing out extra-musical ideas the composer is trying to express in the music. Musical terminology is translated and briefly explained. To allow each audience member the opportunity to enjoy the performance in his or her own way, the numbers corresponding to those in this program are discreetly projected above the orchestra.

Get your tickets to this interactive concert here. Then check out the insert in your program and look for the numbers projected above the orchestra... sync them up and voila! We hope this adds to your concert experience. Let us know!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Creative Response to Choral Collaborative

On November 2, the Omaha Symphony presented Choral Collaborative... a concert that featured 7 local high school choirs, singing large choral works with professional musicians. A lot of hard work went into that performance to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these talented teens. One of those teens, Camille Akers of the Westside choir, wrote a fantastic poem about what Choral Collaborative meant to her... check it out!

If in a battle of the tunes,
Opera would be sure to lose.
Compared to rap, pop, and soul,
Some think opera can’t fill the hole
Inside where all good music lies,
But opera is a special prize
That only some of us can see,
It can really set you free

I must admit I was quite scared,
While at the music we all stared.
This was stuff I’d not done before,
I did not know what was in store.

While in the stage of struggling,
I felt like I was juggling
A dozen eggs and a bowling ball,
While trying so hard not to fall.
It was discouraging at times,
For we had yet to reach our prime.

When J. Gawf came to see us here,
Beads of sweat started to appear.
The languages of life and love—
How could we fit it all above?
We said the words right after him
And we all stepped out on a limb.
To make him happy was our goal,
It was like walking on hot coal.
Big heavy voices got us burned,
So how to laugh is what we learned.
Light and crisp was the new sound—
The perfect opera was found!

From that day on we really worked,
While closer still the concert lurked.
We thought that we had it all right,
When Ernest then showed us the light.
Our Maestro had a vision set,
But we just couldn’t see it yet.
We spent with him an hour or two,
Him telling us all what to do.
I really think that it was best
That we did not have time to rest,
Because then all his needs were met,
And we did not have time to forget.

For a few more weeks we worked off these
Directions—we began to please!
We sounded great and we could see
The complicated melodies.
For opera is—as we have found,
A blend of many different sounds.
It floats from us into the breeze,
Made from the sopranos’ high Cs.

Now that the dirty work had past,
The impression now began to last.
It was plain that I could see
Opera, in fact, has changed me,
In ways I couldn’t see before,
When I thought I was fighting in a war,
Against the words I couldn’t say
For good luck, I began to pray.

But it turned out we didn’t need
Any luck, for I could read
The many faces in the crowd
Looking at us, all so proud.
The concert now is finally done,
It really was a lot more fun
Than I ever thought it’d be,
The experience has stuck with me.
I tried my best at something new
And by the end, we all said, “Phew!”
And though I’m not the next big star
In operas written from afar,
I know that opera’s found a place
In my heart and on my face,
Smiling at the funny thought
That pirates are a scurvy lot!

Thank you, Camille... for your wonderful response & for sharing it with others!
To learn more about the symphony's education programs, check out this link.

Principal Cellist in the Spotlight

Learn more about this weekend's Rococo Variations by Tchaikovsky AND more about the Omaha Symphony's principal cellist...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In the news...

Did you read Saturday's review?

Read what the Omaha World-Herald had to say about the Omaha Symphony, featuring tenor Mario Frangoulis and soprano Sarah Lawrence.

Check out our web site,, to hear about our future Symphony Pops performances!

Great tickets @ low prices!

Hello Music Lovers,

Here are some great ticket offers you should take advantage of:

1/2 price tickets to the Sunday 7 p.m. performance of "Christmas with the Symphony!"
(This is only until November 15th, so ACT FAST!)

1/2 price tickets for Kids to the Saturday & Sunday matinees of "Christmas with the Symphony!"

Monday, November 10, 2008

On November 14th .... (drum roll, please)

...the Omaha Symphony will be launching a new & improved HOME PAGE!

It's designed with YOU in mind. More pictures, more cool links to check out...
Plus, it should make it easier for you to learn more about our upcoming concerts & get your tickets FAST!

Mark your calendar, make a mental note... just make sure you check it out Thursday, November 14th!!!

Tenor Mario Frangoulis visits with Omaha teens

It’s not every day that students at Omaha’s South and Central high schools get to hear from an international singing sensation. Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis, who performed November 7-9 with the Omaha Symphony, stopped by to share his talent and personal story with the schools’ choir classes last week.
Even with his creamy tenor voice, dreamy looks, and skyrocketing career, Frangoulis’s message to Omaha teens was decidedly down-to-earth: “No matter what your background is, no matter how much trouble in your life, no matter who your parents are or what money they have, you can come out of it ahead. Don’t give up. Keep your passion going.”
It’s a message these students have heard before, but rarely from someone who has become so successful in such a competitive field. Frangoulis has not only made a name for himself in the world of opera, singing beside greats like Marilyn Horne, Luciano Pavarotti, and Jose Carreras, but he’s also nabbed some of Broadway’s top roles. He’s starred as Raoul in Phantom of the Opera, Marius in Les Miserables, and Tony in West Side Story in productions across the globe. Most recently, he’s embarked on a recording career.
“It wasn’t always easy for me,” he admitted to the teens. Born in Africa, Frangoulis was sent to live with his aunt in Greece when he was 4 years old. He didn’t see his parents again until he was 8. In the years in between, music started molding his life.
“I was always noisy, always too much. I couldn’t always express myself clearly. I had to do something with my energy and focus it in a productive way. Music was a source of healing. It has done miracles in my life.”
South High School student, Sidney Coleman II, nodded his head as Frangoulis spoke of music’s uplifting power. At 17, Coleman has dreams of pursuing music professionally and knows he’ll need encouragement like this on his journey.
“Music broadens my mind. Even when I was little and got in trouble, if my TV was taken away, I’d be okay. But I didn’t want anything to take away my music,” Coleman explained.
A love of music isn’t the only thing that he shares with this international talent. He goes on, “Mario’s background reminds me of myself. I’ve stayed with my aunt since I was 3. I got into music young, too. Him saying that caught my attention.”
While it’s clear that the words of Frangoulis resonated with these music students, the real magic happened when he opened his mouth to sing. Mouths dropped, eyes widened, and a hush fell over the typical teenage chatter. After he finished a short Greek love song, the room erupted into applause.
“It’s not all about me. This is about you. It’s about sharing,” Frangoulis concluded. That’s why he works with the Horatio Alger Assocation to create scholarships and educational opportunities for high school students who have the odds stacked against them. That’s why he finds school visits like these in Omaha so important.
Before he left South High School and headed on to Central, Frangoulis encouraged two of the young men in the audience to perform for him. Nervous at first, the teens belted out a beautiful duet, slowly gaining confidence. Frangoulis looked on intently, his toes tapping and eyes sparkling. Reflecting on his young audience of musicians later in the day, he said, “If I can inspire even one of them to keep going and to follow their passion, I’m happy.”

Romantic "Rococo Variations" this weekend

What: Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, Omaha Symphony Chamber Series concert featuring principal cellist, Paul Ledwon

When: Saturday, November 15 at 7 PM
Where: UNO Strauss Performing Arts Center 6001 Dodge Street

Tickets: $30 General Admission; available by calling 402.342.3560 or at

Comprised of a theme and seven variations, Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations is one of the most popular works for cello and orchestra. The word “rococo” comes from a decorative style of 18th century architecture, known for elegance and lavish ornamentation. You’ll hear those traits as the Omaha Symphony presents this warm, romantic piece Saturday, November 15 at 7 p.m. at the UNO Strauss Performing Arts Center.

Cellist Paul Ledwon is featured. Ledwon has served as principal cellist of the Omaha Symphony since 1999. He has performed with the Chicago Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, South Bend Symphony, and Chicago Opera Theater orchestras. Andrew Grams, guest conductor, has served as resident conductor of the Florida Orchestra and assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. One of America’s most promising and talented young conductors, Grams has also appeared with the Chicago Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and the National Symphony, among others.

Also featured on this program is Haydn’s Symphony No. 49, also known as “The Passion.” This work dates from the composer’s “Storm and Stress” period, meaning you can expect an exciting, dramatic listening experience. Tickets are $30 and are available at 402.342.3560,, or at the symphony Box Office, 1605 Howard Street.

Experience Vivaldi's Four Seasons - in an exciting, new way!

What: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
When: Friday, November 21 and Saturday, November 22 8 PM
Where: Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas Street
Tickets: $15-$78; 402.345.0606, 402.342.3560 or

With winter upon us, do you find yourself missing the charm of spring and warmth of summer? Experience them this month, as the Omaha Symphony presents Vivaldi’s Four Seasons November 21 and 22 at the Holland Performing Arts Center. This musical postcard of spring, summer, autumn, and winter is one of the most beloved classical works of all time.

This program involves an exciting first for Omaha Symphony audiences! Guest conductor Michael Christie has written “Keeping Score,” a short, easy-to-follow “real time” guide to this concert’s music, including notes about the composer’s intentions and the orchestra’s interpretation. Numbers corresponding to those in the guide are then discreetly projected above the orchestra. Christie is the Virginia G. Piper Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony and music director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. This concert also features violin soloist, Margaret Batjer. She currently serves as concertmaster of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Batjer is also a faculty member with the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California.