DOWNEY – The Downey Symphony Orchestra will celebrate Downey’s 60th anniversary at the opening concert of its 57th season on Oct. 22.
The Orchestra will pay tribute to Downey’s important role in space exploration by performing Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite The Planets. Also on the program is the world premiere of the Downey Celebration Suite, composed by long-time resident Lars Clutterham.
The third movement of Clutterham’s piece, “Salsa Caliente,” salutes Downey’s many Latino residents. Mayor Alex Saab and other political and civic leaders are expected to be in attendance.
“The Orchestra’s first concert was just three years after the incorporation of the city,” noted Larry Lewis, President of the Downey Symphonic Society. “We’re proud that we’ve been a key part of Downey’s rich cultural life since the beginning and delighted to be celebrating this milestone for the city.”
The performance is supported in part by a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
While the music is the heart of the evening, the concert will be enhanced with art and poetry as well as other festivities. In partnership with the Downey Arts Coalition, an exhibit of work by local artists under the title “Cosmic” will be on view in the theatre lobby.
The Symphony also partnered with Poetry Matters, a monthly reading series curated by Lorine Parks, to sponsor a contest for the best poem on a space-related theme. The winner, Peggy Dobreer, will read her poem from the stage, following a pre-concert talk in which Music Director Sharon Lavery will interview Lars Clutterham.
A free champagne reception will follow the concert and the Columbia Astronomy Club will set up telescopes for star- and planet-gazing. Earlier in the day, the Columbia Memorial Space Center will offer a day of family-friendly events, including a panel by noted astrophysicist Dr. Theodore Clarke.
The Symphonic Society has led the way in partnering with other arts and cultural organizations in Downey to create events all month that residents can join in to express their pride in the City.
The “Stardust Arts Festival” kicks off the month on Oct. 2 at the Downey Theatre with the “Stardust Arts Festival,” the opening of the art exhibit “Cosmic,” and free showings of films from Glennfest.
Rounding out the afternoon will be a panel titled “Journey to the Stars and Beyond,” organized by the Aerospace Legacy Foundation.
The Columbia Memorial Space Center will present twilight films on Oct. 8 and 15. On Oct. 20, Poetry Matters will present a reading at Stay Gallery, where poets will present the best from the space-related poems as well as poems related to Downey.
One of the key features of these events is the presentation of new works of art—paintings and sculpture, films, poetry, and in particular, symphonic music.
“This is in keeping with the Symphony’s commitment to presenting new work,” says Music Director Sharon Lavery. “In past seasons we have offered our audience a number of world premieres, and Lars Clutterham’s work extends that tradition. I know the audience is going to love his music and take pride in its special connection to Downey.”
The concluding piece in Holst’s suite includes an off-stage choir, and the Symphony is partnering with Whittier’s Chorale Bel Canto, whose soprano section will sing with the orchestra.
“This collaboration between our two musical organizations is an exciting new development,” said Maestra Lavery.
The Symphony’s season will continue with two more concerts. In January, two musicians who performed in past seasons to great acclaim will appear--violinist Michelle Tseng and baritone Anthony Moreno. Pianist Robert Blake will join them for an evening of solos, duos, and trios by an array of composers.
And in April, cellist Benjamin Lash will play Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme.” Also on the program will be Rossini’s William Tell overture and Beethoven’s mighty Symphony no. 5.
A special thank-you reception exclusively for subscribers will be held following the January concert.
Season and individual concert tickets may be purchased from the Downey Theatre online at downeytheatre.org; by phone at (562) 861-8211; or in person, at the theater box office.
For full information about the concert and the entire month’s 60th anniversary events, go to downeysymphony.org