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RSO Season Introduces New Genres \ Public Participation

Jeff Midkiff and David Wiley perform.

The Roanoke Symphony Orchestra will introduce Bluegrass music into its repertoire, with a newly commissioned work, the Concerto for Mandolin and Orchestra, by composer and musician Jeff Midkiff.   Midkiff and the RSO will perform this piece in concert on Opening Night of the 2011-2012 season.

Midkiff, is an award winning mandolin player and fiddler and former member of the Lonesome River Band.  According to RSO Music Director David Stewart Wiley, Midkiff’s piece reflects the “rich and colorful palette of music performed and enjoyed right here in the Blue Ridge.”

The RSO made the announcement during a news conference this week announcing several major artists and concerts planned for the upcoming season including:

The RSO’s “Picnic at the Pops” series will grow to four concert events including The Music of Queen, a concert collaboration with rock bands and vocalists from group Jeans ‘n Classics (Spring 2012).  Other major solo artist confirmations for the new Pops series will be made as the season progresses.

Sir. James Galway – The internationally renowned flutist will perform with the RSO at the Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre (Fall 2011)

A free concert offered (Fall 2011)  –  part of a series presented by St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke

“Runaway Bunny”, a collaboration between the RSO, Hollins University, and the Taubman Museum of Art to commemorate the works of Margaret Wise Brown, an American author of childhood classics such as “Goodnight Moon.”

Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” presented by the RSO’s Roanoke Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Southwest Virginia Ballet.

“Roanoke’s vibrant arts community is deserving of top quality entertainment that stimulates mind, body, and spirit,” continued Wiley.  “Our patrons appreciate and expect entertainment variety, musical innovation, and leadership and the upcoming season will deliver.”

Adding to its pledge for variety and entertainment, the RSO announced that the upcoming season will offer an opportunity for pianists from around the world to vie for the opportunity to perform with the symphony, through its “Star City International Piano Competition”, presented in collaboration with the Jefferson Center, Hollins University, the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

The competition, before a live audience, will take place in January 2012 at Jefferson Center.  The first place winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize and will be featured as a soloist with the RSO in two concert appearances during April 2012, performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.  More information about the competition is expected to be announced later in the year.

As the community anticipates an exciting season line-up and international music competition, RSO Executive Director Beth Pline says “it’s more important than ever to ensure that performances are accessible to as many people as possible.”

To this end, the organization will offer reduced ticket prices on the popular three-concert Picnic at the Pops package, and more flexibility and affordability through a new set of  “Symphony Samplers” which will allow ticket buyers to create their own entertainment package of three, four, or five concerts from any RSO series at a discounted cost.

Current Masterworks subscribers will also see a new incentive to sample the variety of programming on the upcoming season by adding their choice of any one Pops Series concert to their renewal at no additional cost.  Other perks will include a pre-sale “invitation” to meet flutist James Galway during a private reception following his Roanoke debut performance, as well as “Refer-A-Friend” discounts to other events.

“This year will be an exciting one and we hope these new programs and options will make it easier for anyone who wants to enjoy the symphony experience to be able to do so,” says RSO Marketing Director Rodney Overstreet.

Much of the new programming and ticket options are thanks to a host of corporate sponsors, the largest number in the history of the organization, that have pledged support for the season.

“Our relationship with these many generous sponsors helps defray the cost of orchestra musicians,” adds Pline. “Partnering with other organizations, venues, colleges and schools adds variety and even more entertainment value to live music.”

Corporate sponsors for the 2011-2012 season include Advance Autoparts, AEP, Allstate, Brandon Oaks Retirement Community, Benefits Group, Business Solutions, Carilion Clinic, Caroline LaRocca Event Designs, Catawba Capital, Gentle Shepherd Hospice, Grand Home Furnishings, ITT, LeClaire Ryan, Member One Federal Credit Union, John Nordt & Company, the Roanoke Arts Commission, Roanoke Times, The Shenandoah Club, SunTrust Bank, Virginia Business Systems, Virginia Tech Foundation, Virginia Western Community College, Wells Fargo, and Woods Rogers.

The RSO’s 2011-2012 season, ‘Art that Entertains,’ goes on sale to subscribers in April, and to new subscribers in June.  For more information visit

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