KINGSTON — After a season without major concerts, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic is happy, as in spring-after-harsh-winter happy, as in joy-after-major-depression happy, to announce it’s back.
“We’re calling it ‘From Darkness to Light,’ ” executive director Nancy Sanderson said of the orchestra’s 2018-2019 season, which opens 8 p.m. Oct. 6 at Wyoming Seminary’s F.M. Kirby Center for Creative Arts in Kingston with some of the most uplifting music she could find.
The first concert, titled “Masterworks: Orchestral Blockbusters,” will start off with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Overture to the Marriage of Figaro,” which she described as “a really, really joyful piece of music. It sparkles. It’s so fitting.”
The evening also includes Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, which the Russian composer wrote after he emerged from a “period in his life when he was depressed and had to seek counseling. This concerto is his re-entry into the field of music, literally out of the dark period of his life,” Sanderson said. “It’s such an inspiring piece.”
The final number in the first concert also marks a celebration after a struggle. “We’re doing Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, and Symphony No. 1 took him between 14 and 21 years to write. Finally he mastered what it was that had been holding him back. He went to a beautiful town in Austria, took walks at a lake every day, and it only took him three months to write Symphony No. 2.”
Pianist Spencer Myer will perform the Rachmaninoff piece, Sanderson said, noting audience members may be familiar with him because “last year, when we had a chamber series instead of a full concert series, he played in three of the eight events and we had meet-and-greets afterward.”
“Spencer feels like a friend to Northeastern Pennsylvania,” she said.
“He has performed all over the United States and Europe with fine, fine orchestras,” she added. “He has a great reputation and The London Times said he’s a pianist you really have to watch.”
Leading the orchestra will be the new interim director, Melisse Brunet, who also is no stranger to the Philharmonic.
“They are a great group of musicians who want to play at the highest level,” Brunet told a reporter in February 2016, when she served as assistant director. “They want to be challenged.”
“She’s outstanding,” Sanderson said of Brunet. “She is such a good conductor.”
Following the October concert, the Philharmonic will continue with what Sanderson described as “a real people season,” emphasizing that the orchestra doesn’t want to put classical music “on some kind of pedestal that makes it intimidating.”
Other concerts in the people-pleasing season will be PNC Holiday Pops Performances with vocalist Erin Malloy and the Ballet Theater of Scranton, 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at Lackawanna College and 3 p.m. Dec. 16 at the F.M. Kirby Center for Performing Arts on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre.
• PNC Pops: Imagine with Music of The Beatles, 8 p.m. Feb. 16, F.M. Kirby Center for Performing Arts, Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
• MasterWorks: Inspired by Nature with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony Nov. 6, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, 8 p.m April 5, Lackawanna College.
• Chamber music concerts the orchestra has scheduled are “The Viennese Schools” with violinist Gabriel Schaff and pianist Steven Masi, 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at WVIA Sordoni Theater in Pittston; An Evening with Micah Holt, principal trumpet player, 7 p.m. Jan. 17, First Presbyterian Church, School Street, Clarks Summit; Showcasing the Cello, 7 p.m. March 7 at WVIA Sordoni Theater, and Exponential Ensemble: World Wind, with clarinet, oboe and flute; 7 p.m. May 9 at St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre.
For more information on the Philharmonic, see nepaphil.org or call 570-270-4444.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT