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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2012-2013 SEASON

“Through a unique collaboration between ASO and GroundWorks DanceTheater, GroundWorks’ Artistic Director David Shimotakahara will create choreography to accompany the sounds of the symphony. ASO has taken this kind of staging before with great success (recall Porgy and Bess? Titanic?). We can’t wait to see how it comes together.” Spotlight: Akron Symphony Orchestra featuring diverse season, Westside Leader/Southside Leader, 8/23/12

“A big highlight…will feature the kind of freshness that Wilkins brought with him to the orchestra – drama on the stage, specifically by bringing dancers into the music. This year the ASO pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of composer Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring through a unique collaboration with GroundWorks Dance Theater, a Knight Arts grantee. It should be a great night.” Akron Symphony Orchestra aims for harmony in big musical lineup for 2012-2013, KnightArts.org, 8/24/12

“Wilkins, who conducted from memory as he would all evening, shaped a noble and well-paced performance of Beethoven’s third try at an overture for his only opera. The orchestra sounded strong and healthy from the beginning of Leonore No. 3, but the wind section particularly distinguished itself with its fine blend, balance and tone color. The five-member horn section was in fine fettle, and an offstage trumpeter Scott Johnston delivered his two fanfares from the grand tier level with assured brilliance.” Akron Symphony on Opening Night, Cleveland Classical, 9/18/12

“The Akron Symphony effortlessly tossed off a brisk, exhilarating performance of Bernstein’s Candide Overture – with spectacular work from the horn section – to preface the rest of the program…Bernstein’s nine-movement Symphonic Dances from West Side Story gave the orchestra plenty of opportunities to show off its panache and versatility, and there were many praiseworthy highlights, including fine work from the brass solo viola and horn and the whole percussion section.” Akron Symphony: Bernstein and Gershwin with pianist Levi Hammer, Cleveland Classical, 10/16/12

“After an attention-getting clarinet solo by Kristina Belisle Jones (not a continuous glissando but one with landings like a staircase), Wilkins established a brisk and cheerful pace that seemed to harken back to the Rhapsody’s 1920s roots. Levi Hammer brought a well-conceived and highly individual approach to the solo part, which he dispatched brilliantly with the complicity of his attentive colleagues. Ruminative pauses in the cadenza contributed to the sense of immediacy and improvisation that Hammer seemed to be out to achieve.” Akron Symphony: Bernstein and Gershwin with pianist Levi Hammer, Cleveland Classical, 10/16/12

“Wilkins drew exciting, dramatic, colorful playing out of the orchestra in Romeo and Juliet as the story unfolded…the Akron Symphony contributed admirable playing to the narrative of the star-crossed lovers. Wilkins gave every section its own stand-up at the end, but clarinetist Kristina Belisle Jones and violist Rimbo Wong earned recognition for particularly fine solo work.” Akron Symphony with Alexander Schimpf, Cleveland Classical, 1/22/13

“Flawless trumpeting from Scott Johnston and John Brndair, robust, golden horn calls from Meghan Guegold and Cynthia Wulff and the cheerful, reedy contributions of oboists Terry Orcutt and Cynthia Warren and bassoonist Todd Jelen crowned the expert string playing in the D major suite that ended the concert.” Akron Symphony with Jeannette Sorrell, ClevelandClassical.com, 2/12/13

“One of the Akron Symphony’s most eagerly anticipated programs is its Gospel Meets Symphony concert, now in its 20th year. With some 200 voices drawn from local church choirs, music programs and the community, joining their vocal power with the full orchestra, you just know the roof is going to levitate.” Gospel Meets Symphony in Akron, CoolCleveland.com, 2/16/13

“It [Gospel Meets Symphony] isn’t just a concert of music from the multitude of traditions. The music is a tool for bringing people together and inviting wholehearted participation by the community.” Voices of joy bridge Akron communities, Enjoy cover, Akron Beacon Journal, 2/21/13

“The Gospel Meets Symphony Choir was well-prepared by Jennifer Mekel Jones, who took on the daunting task of pulling singers from more than 70 churches into a cohesive ensemble. The Akron Symphony sounded excellent in the [Beethoven’s] ‘Ninth’ and, spurred on by the indefatigable Wilkins (who danced offstage to end the first half) fully got into the spirit of all the extra-classical styles on the program. Akron Symphony Gospel Meets Symphony celebrates 20th anniversary, Cleveland Classical, 2/27/13

“Wilkins paced the movements masterfully. The chorus, singing in mixed lineup, achieved a fine blend both among themselves and with the orchestra and articulated their German words with precision. The violins deserve a special nod for playing Haydn’s complicated fiddle lines with verve and accuracy. Robert Mollard’s harpsichord playing in the recitatives was fluent and stylish. At the end, a very spring-like bouquet was proffered to Linh Kauffman [solo soprano]. She earned it, but a second set of flowers might have been bestowed on Maria Sensi Sellner, who has really transformed the Akron Symphony Chorus.” Akron Symphony anticipates spring with Beethoven and Haydn, Cleveland Classical, 3/4/13

“The [Rite of Spring] project, which focuses heavily on community participation, furthers earlier work the Akron Symphony has done by bringing in Akron-area performers to produce the opera Porgy and Bess and the musical Titanic. For The Rite of Spring, the eight-member, professional GroundWorks company perform in collaboration with a 15-member student dance ensemble, with the 100-member Akron Symphony also on the EJ Thomas Hall stage. GroundWorks artistic director David Shimotakahara choreographed a new Rite of Spring dance that brings these diverse dancers together for a performance that promises to be wholly original.” The Rite of Spring still stirs passions, Life section cover, Akron Beacon Journal, 4/7/13

“No riot ensued Saturday at Akron’s EJ Thomas Hall, where the Akron Symphony Orchestra teamed with Cleveland’s GroundWorks DanceTheater in a spellbinding new version of ‘The Rite’ choreographed by GroundWorks artistic director David Shimotakahara. Instead, the audience reacted as if something galvanic had occurred. It had. The production compelled spectators to consider ‘The Rite’ from a contemporary perspective.” Akron Symphony and GroundWorks Dance Theater triumph in new Rite of Spring, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/14/13

“The performance was part of a series of community projects presented by the Akron Symphony, which deserves plaudits for helping put a new spin on a monument of the orchestral repertoire...Led by music director Christopher Wilkins, the orchestra played the score far upstage with fine attention to detail and sonority. Wilkins’ account was confident, generally brisk and mindful of contrasts in color and atmosphere.” Akron Symphony and GroundWorks Dance Theater triumph in new Rite of Spring, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/14/13

“Rundgren’s August show at the Akron Civic Theater…will be a unique experience even for the dedicated Runt fan…The ‘Rundgren Pops’ format is a fairly new one for Rundgren as he’s only performed a few shows with the Dutch Metropole Orchestra in Amsterdam in 2011 and 2012 and a couple with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra also in 2012. But when Rundgren plays Akron, the show will feature something new as he has never performed with two orchestras on the same stage, and it’ll be his first time jamming with a youth orchestra.” Todd Rundgren keeps coming back, Enjoy feature, Akron Beacon Journal, 5/9/13