FSO brings diversity through music
For its 61st season, the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra (FSO) is set to broaden its horizons and combine seemingly unrelated music and performances with a pre-established set of classical hits.
Though some of this season’s concerts are returning from previous years, including the holiday classic showing of “The Nutcracker,” new styles and trends are being incorporated into the FSO’s many performances. Some of these changes include the addition of bluegrass music and a farewell symphony in which performers stand up and exit the stage until there are only two strings left playing.
Laura Kelly, executive director of the FSO, said this shift in style and substance came from the relationships the FSO has with NAU and other organizations around Flagstaff.
“We like the idea of partnership, where we can share an idea with other organizations,” Kelly said. “Why don’t we marry what we do with what you do?”
Todd Sullivan, director of NAU’s School of Music and member of FSO’s board of directors, said the school has worked with the FSO since its earliest days.
“I think our relationship dates back to the entire history of the FSO,” Sullivan said. “Many of our faculty and students are part of the FSO. Our relationship is long, deep and built on history.”
Kelly said the relationship the FSO has with its musicians provides the organization with opportunities to expand its reach.
“Our musicians play other types of music, as well,” Kelly said. “They approach us. For our second concert, four of them came to us and wanted to play solo. We highlight internal talent in the spotlight.”
So far, the FSO has had two concerts this semester (“The French Connection” and “Echoes of Vienna”) that helped illustrate a global view of music. Concerts set to take place next semester will feature American bluegrass by the Kruger
Brothers and traditional Chinese music in partnership with the Shenyang Conservatory of Music.
Sullivan said some of the changes in programming come from the need to entertain the ever-growing community.
“We’re sharing the richness of culture,” Sullivan said. “It’s very clear the audiences appreciate it. We have a very adventurous local audience.”
Elizabeth Schulze, artistic director and conductor for the FSO, said she anticipates the challenges that come with change.
“I’m really excited about the collaborations this season,” Schulze said. “I think it allows us to reach new audiences and think out of the box in terms of what an orchestra is and what it can do in the 21st century … These collaborations will really stretch us as musicians in new and important ways.”
The next show on the FSO’s schedule, “The Nutcracker” ballet, is one of the few concerts not going through drastic changes this season. But despite her tenure in the FSO, this is Schulze’s first year conducting “The Nutcracker.”
“I’ve loved having the opportunity to study the work as a whole,” Schulze said. “It really flows so beautifully, and Tchaikovsky is amazing in his ability to paint the scene in sound. I’m especially looking forward to working with the young dancers and singers. This has become an annual event in Flagstaff, and I’m so glad the community has included us in their holiday celebrations.”
Sullivan said students should take advantage of the opportunity and view not only “The Nutcracker,” but other performances by the FSO starting next semester.
“Your years as a college student, in many ways, are the richest cultural experiences,” Sullivan said. “Students owe it to themselves. Almost without exception, after the first time, you’re hooked.”
“The Nutcracker” will be shown this Friday and Saturday at Ardrey Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. A “Lollipop Matinee” will also be shown Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the NAU Central Ticket Office or online. For more information on the FSO’s upcoming schedule, visit flagstaffsymphony.org.