Symphony plans 'jazzy' opening to season

Aug. 10, 2013 @ 04:06 PM

The Union Symphony Orchestra is launching its eighth season with a jazzy opening concert and an ending with a pop – Pops on the Plaza, to be exact.

The five-concert season runs the gamut from jazz to opera to holiday music and on to a free open-air pops spring concert in Downtown Monroe.

Charlotte pianist Ethan Uslan, one of the hottest names on the ragtime/traditional jazz scene today, joins the orchestra in its first concert – Jazz in Stride – on Saturday, Oct. 5. The performance features George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue,” Kurt Weill’s “Little Threepenny Music” and Richard Rodgers’ “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.”

“We are very pleased and excited to have a guest pianist of Ethan’s caliber join the orchestra in these famous pieces,” said Kim Norwood, executive director of the orchestra. “He is well-known across the nation, and we’re fortunate that he’s sharing his skills with Union County.”

Uslan won the 2007 World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and is featured in the upcoming ragtime documentary “The Entertainers.” He has performed on NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion” as well as in concerts and festivals nationwide. As a college student, Uslan complemented his classical studies by learning to play like Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton and Gershwin.

Jazz in Stride is set for 7:30 p.m. at The Batte Center on the Wingate University campus.

The season ends with a bang – or a pop – as the City of Monroe sponsors Pops on the Plaza on Sunday, May 18. The 4 p.m. concert will feature music that patrons love from throughout the years.

“It’s exciting for the symphony to perform its first pops concert,” commented Norwood. “We’re grateful to the City of Monroe for sponsoring what’s certain to be a very popular event.” Bring a chair and relax for this free open-air concert.

The Symphony will accompany Wingate University Opera in its Nov. 8 and 9 performances of Mozart’s “Bastien und Bastienne” and Offenbach’s “M. Choufleuri restera chez lui le.” This is the sixth year that Wingate’s opera and the Symphony collaborated on a performance.

Dr. Jessie Wright Martin, Wingate music director, directs the university singers. Both performances are at The Batte Center at 7:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Dec. 8, the orchestra will join Central United Methodist Church’s Festival Choir and a community holiday chorus in a Christmas concert of traditional music.  James O’Dell will direct the choral groups in this annual concert. The 5 p.m. free concert will be at the church in Monroe.

Spring’s first concert is set for Sunday, April 27, and features Lambert’s “Overture De Broceliande,” Satie’s “Relâche,” and Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 5 in f major.” The 4 p.m. concert will be in The Batte Center.

The non-profit adult symphony features 65 core members and is conducted for the third season by Richard Rosenberg, artistic director.

Season subscriptions are available, ranging from $75 and $55 for adults to $45 for seniors and students, and individual performance tickets can be purchased at the door.

For more information on the season or to purchase a season ticket, visit or call 704-283-2525.