The concert season has begun – and with the North Carolina Symphony kicking it off with a night of music under the stars, we can hardly wait to see what else awaits us. Under the direction of resident conductor William Henry Curry, the North Carolina Symphony exercised its mastery of music from classical works by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky to all-American marches by John Philip Sousa. Although Raleigh concert goers are accustomed to seeing and hearing the Symphony in their resident performance space at Meymandi Concert Hall, the new Downtown Raleigh Amphitheater proved to be a perfect location to enjoy the diverse program.

The concert opened with Johann Strauss I’s “Radetzky March,” followed by a warm welcome from Maestro Curry. Audience members were invited to sit back and relax, whether in the chairs of the amphitheater or on blankets spread out on the grass. Classic enthusiasts enjoyed the strengths of the strings in the next pieces, Beethoven’s “Consecration of the House” Overture and a sampling of music from Tchaikovsky’s first ballet,Swan Lake. Often, in the case of complex and intricate music, beats of silence are sacrificed for the sake of clarity and note accuracy. During the “Dance of the Black Swan,” the North Carolina Symphony illuminated the power of silence in building the tension and mystery of the piece. The set resolved well with a waltz, and the conductor introduced a new section of the program highlighting American composers. Ron Nelson’s “Savannah River Holiday” took audience members through bustling city streets with an opening movement, reminiscent of a ‘fifties movie, and then invited them to recall a warm night by a river with swelling strings and gentle woodwinds underscoring. The orchestra’s exciting rendition of “Raiders’ March” from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, and “Summon the Heroes,” both composed by John Williams, left spectators anxious to re-watch a marathon of Indiana Jones movies when they got home. By popular demand, the Symphony closed their program with music from Phantom of the Opera by musical theatre powerhouse Andrew Lloyd Weber. With a twist of contemporary with electric sounds and a drum set, the sounds of “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Angel of Music,” and finally “Music of the Night” nearly brought the evening to a close, except for the standing ovation that elicited an encore performance. William Henry Curry returned to the stage to lead the Symphony in W.C. Handy’s swinging “St. Louis Blues” to conclude the show. The perfect summer night provided the best conditions for listening to the sounds of the talented musicians of the North Carolina Symphony, sending adults, teenagers, and young children alike home with a renewed appreciation for music that reaches all generations. Catch the North Carolina Symphony next at Meymandi Concert Hall for their upcoming performances of Mozart’s Requiem September 8-11 and “Bernstein on Broadway” September 23-24. For details, see our calendar.