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Opening orchestra concert features favorites

Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17-18, 2008, 8 p.m. · Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall

The Princeton University Orchestra will open its 31st season under conductor Michael Pratt with concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17-18, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

The concert will feature four favorites from the French, Russian and American repertory. It will open with a short work, the "Hungarian March," from "The Damnation of Faust" by Hector Berlioz, and continue with one of Russian master Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's most popular works, "Capriccio Espagnol."

"One of a relatively small handful of orchestral works by Rimsky-Korsakov (he was primarily an opera composer), the 'Capriccio' makes brilliant use of Spanish dances and song," Pratt said. "It's virtuosic solo work and infectious energy make it a perennial favorite."

After intermission the orchestra will play one of Igor Stravinsky's most important works from his neo-classical period, the Symphony in Three Movements. "Stravinsky was a student of Rimsky-Korsakov, and through all his music we can hear the brilliance of the old master's orchestration," Pratt said. "The symphony was inspired by newsreel images of World War II and captures both the dramatic struggle and eventual triumph of those years, and is music of driving intensity."

The program concludes with one of American master George Gershwin's most enduring and beloved works, "An American in Paris." "Whether he was writing for Broadway or the full symphony orchestra, his inspiration matched that of any composer of his time, and he was widely admired by all the European masters," Pratt said. "'An American in  Paris' may be about strolling down the Champs Elysees, but the sound of the music is pure NYC -- sassy, bluesy, soulfully ecstatic, Gershwin's beloved New York."

Tickets for the concert are $18 for general admission, $15 for seniors and $5 for students, and are available at the Richardson Auditorium and Frist Campus Center ticket offices, or online through University Ticketing.

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