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NC Symphony puts on free “Concerts in Your Community” this summer

The N.C. Symphony recently began its annual Concerts in Your Community series, featuring 10 free outdoor concerts across central and eastern North Carolina.

“The North Carolina Symphony has been known for a long time for state-wide service — that’s really what we do,” said Joe Newberry, a spokesperson for the symphony. “So this is a way for us to go around and be a presence in communities.”

The series began on June 1 and will run until July 4. The symphony will be in Chapel Hill on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Southern Village’s Village Green.

Evan Gray, a student at Appalachian State University, attended the first concert in the series in New Bern.

“One thing that I just loved about it was listening to the whimsical music while seeing the birds fly by, and the sun was setting as we were listening to it, and the weather was perfect,” he said.

Gray said having this free, open venue is important for people who may not often be exposed to classical music.

Amy Mason, a violist with the N.C. Symphony and lecturer at UNC, said the series is one of the many ways the N.C. Symphony tries to reach people across the state with classical music.

“I think that the great thing about the North Carolina Symphony is that we have a lot of different types of concerts,” she said. “We have educational concerts, we have different classical music series and we have these free concerts. And I think all of those concerts do a great job of getting classical music to as many people as we can.”

The series will host seven free performances in June. These concerts, named “Beethoven’s Fifth,” will feature Aaron Copland’s “Outdoor Overture,” Terry Mizesko’s “Sketches from Pinehurst” and Beethoven’s famous Symphony No. 5. These concerts will be conducted by Music Director Grant Llewellyn and Resident Conductor William Henry Curry.

Curry has been resident conductor for the N.C. Symphony for almost 19 years and will be conducting the concert in Chapel Hill Sunday.

“We are doing Beethoven’s fifth symphony, which everyone thinks they’ve heard, but generally they’re only little bits and pieces on TV and cartoons and cellphones and whatnot, so we’re having to do one of the really great transcendental pieces of all time,” he said.

Curry said he is also excited about the other works on the program. He said Copland was one the greatest composers of American orchestral music.

“We’re doing a piece he wrote that’s perfect for the setting called ‘An Outdoor Overture,’” he said. “And what he meant by that is that it should be breezy, uninhibited, casual, robust, not intimate, not so tender, but outdoors music. I think it’s a great title.”

Curry said “Sketches from Pinehurst,” a five-movement piece composed by Terry Mizesko, describes the physical beauty of the community at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, NC.

The symphony will also perform three free Independence Day concerts in early July to honor the United States on its 238th birthday. These concerts will include selections from Copland’s “Rodeo,” John Philip Sousa’s “Washington Post March,” Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and more.

Mason said the community concerts draw many enthusiastic audience members of all ages.

“It’s a wonderful experience,” she said. “It gives us a chance to interact with a crowd of people that don’t always come to the symphony, and sometimes we get to see those people again because they enjoyed the free concert so much that they come back for more.”

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