The 33rd season of the Piedmont Wind Symphony will offer its popular free outdoor pop concerts as well as its four traditional performances in the concert hall.
Guest artists will include internationally acclaimed composer Omar Thomas, NC singer Christal Rheams, Matt Niess of the Capitol Bones and soprano Lindsay Kesselman. The concerts will take place at various locations in Winston-Salem.
Last season, symphony orchestra officials focused on getting its musicians back to playing and returning to the community after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Mark J. Vaders, president and general manager of the Piedmont Wind Symphony.
Mark Norman had just joined the symphony as musical director and conductor.
“We walked out of the concert hall,” Vaders said.
“We played in churches and in the community in public spaces. It was all wonderful, but now, in this new season, we find a balance. It was such a hit, and we don’t want to leave that behind, so we’re keeping some of those outdoor gigs. I think it will become a tradition for us. We call it “Piedmont Pops in the Pits”.
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Norman said the new season has “an incredible lineup of performers, guest conductors, composers and premieres”.
On September 18, the Piedmont Wind Symphony will give concertgoers two free concerts in one at the Bailey Park Coal Pit in front of Incendiary Brewing in Innovation Quarter because its “Piedmont Pops 1 – Patriotic Pops in the Pit!” the concert scheduled for September 5 was canceled due to rain.
The first half of the concert will be heroes and villains themed. In “Piedmont Pops 2—Heroes and Villains!” Battle for the Pit!” concert, the Piedmont Wind Symphony said it “summons the heroes” and explores its “dark” side in this program of music from “Star Wars,” the Marvel Universe and more. Live music trivia will return so people will be encouraged to form teams and prepare to fight in the pit.
The second half of the concert will feature patriotic and American music, featuring singer Stephanie Foley-Davis.
“It will be an exciting and moving concert,” said Norman.
The symphony orchestra’s November 4 concert will be “Come Sunday!” at the Stevens Center at UNC School of the Arts.
The Piedmont Wind Symphony will share the stage with renowned soprano Lindsay Kesselman and the UNCSA Wind Ensemble as UNCSA welcomes internationally acclaimed composer and jazz musician Omar Thomas as Artist-in-Residence.
“Described as ‘elegant, beautiful, sophisticated, intense and crystal clear in its emotional intent,’ the music of Omar Thomas continues to move listeners in concert halls around the world,” said the Piedmont Wind Symphony.
Thomas will talk about his music from the stage.
“Omar is one of the best songwriters of this generation and really has a unique voice,” Norman said. “We are playing perhaps one of his most popular works – ‘Come Sunday’.
The Piedmont Wind Symphony will also present the East Coast premiere of Randall Standridge’s “Unbroken” and feature UNCSA faculty winds on Jeff Scott’s Latin jazz-influenced “Baile si quiere.”
On December 6, the symphony orchestra will present “Holiday Piedmont Pops: Christal Rheams and Matt Niess with the Piedmont Wind Symphony” at the Ramkat.
Audiences are invited to ring in the holiday season with the Piedmont Pops and special guest vocalist Christal Rheams performing holiday and jazz favorites.
Originally from Raleigh, Rheams performed with the US Army Blues Jazz Band for over 22 years and performed with Wayne Newton, Ricky Martin and Trisha Yearwood. Most recently, Rheams was one of five finalists on “America’s Got Talent” as a member of Voices of Service. Matt Niess of the Capitol Bones will be the guest arranger and soloist for the evening.
“Traditionally, we used to do our big guest artist concerts during the holidays,” Vaders said. “Four or five years ago we changed that because it’s so hard to compete for slots during the holiday season. We moved the guest artists concert to another time of the season, but we missed having something on our schedule at this time of year.
Concerts in February and April
The concert on February 11 will be “Mr. Tambourine Man” in the Brendle Recital Hall at Wake Forest University.
Renowned soprano Lindsay Kesselman will sing the powerful “Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan” with the Piedmont Wind Symphony.
“A fantastic and exuberant prologue precedes five monologues of research and reflection which form the heart of the piece; and the epilogue: ‘Forever Young’ makes a sort of folksong blessing after the end of the cycle,” the symphony said. “The five inner songs chart a journey of emotional and civic maturation for a deeply moving musical experience.”
Additionally, James Barnes’ Third Personal Symphony, commissioned by the US Air Force Band, will be played during the concert. The piece “progresses from the deepest darkness of the composer’s despair at losing his baby daughter, Natalie, to the brightness, fulfillment and joy of his son, Billy, born a year later,” said the symphony.
On April 22, the Piedmont Wind Symphony will present its last concert of the season — “Sousa! A Tribute to John Phillip Sousa and His Band” in Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel.
“We’re going to look, sound, act like the Sousa Band did when they traveled in their heyday from the 19th to the 20th century,” Norman said.
The evening will feature riveting marches, patriotic favorites and virtuoso soloists as the Piedmont Wind Symphony travels back in time to become the Sousa Band. Led by Sousa Specialist, UNCG Conductor Emeritus John Locke, the band will be in full costume and the venue will be decked out to resemble the days of Sousa’s Band as they traveled the world.
Norman said Locke impersonated Sousa perfectly.
“He becomes Sousa,” Norman said. “He looks like Sousa. He acts like Sousa.
Soprano Stephanie Foley-Davis, trumpeter Ashley Hall and percussionist John Beck will present solo works representing the legendary world-renowned soloists of their time.
“This is a concert not to be missed,” said Norman. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”