Top 5 reasons we’ll be at Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Opening Masterworks on Oct. 19 and 20, including dueling pianos. Get tickets now.

Birmingham, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Opening Masterworks, Alys Stephens

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Birmingham, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Opening Masterworks, Alys Stephens
Alabama Symphony Orchestra rehearses at the Alys Stephens Center. Photo submitted

Do you have your tickets yet to hear the Alabama Symphony Orchestra perform Opening Masterworks: Don Juan & Concerto for Orchestra? Bham Now has five reasons why you should. Get those tickets and mark your calendar. Performances happen Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19 and 20, at 7 p.m. at the Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham. Tickets range from $24 to $74.

Birmingham, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Opening Masterworks, Alys Stephens

1. Beginning With The Best

If you’re new to the symphony, there’s no better first experience than the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Opening Masterworks. If you’re a longtime symphony fan, this is your chance to hear three favorites in one evening. The series opener features monumental works by three of the world’s most notable composers: Richard Strauss, Francis Poulenc and Béla Bartók.

“The opening of our Masterworks Series is always a great opportunity to display our fantastic Alabama Symphony Orchestra in its splendor,” said Music Director Carlos Izcaray.

“Both Strauss’ Don Juan and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra are staples of the symphonic repertoire, showcasing the ensemble at its fullest. Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra is an opportunity for us to collaborate with two fantastic soloists, Vanessa Perez and Stephen Buck, who will be making their debut with our Alabama Symphony Orchestra.”

That brings us to our next point.

2. Dueling Pianos

Everyone loves a healthy dose of wit and irony. Poulenc composed with it. The largely self-taught French composer debuted “Concerto for Two Pianos in D minor” at the International Society for Contemporary Music in Venice in 1932. This energetic piece intermingles Mozart, jazz and a little Javanese gamelan. Watch Perez and Buck pull off Poulenc’s work beautifully in their premiere performance with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

Get your tickets to hear the Alabama Symphony Orchestra perform Opening Masterworks at the Alys Stephens Center on Oct. 19 and 20.

Fun fact: socialite and American Singer sewing machine heiress Princess ‘Winnie’ de Polignac commissioned Poulenc’s “Concerto for 2 Pianos in D minor.”

3. If Someone Calls You A Don Juan…

You can tactfully redirect the conversation. Simply respond, “You mean my nobility is best expressed by a slow melody played by four French horns, like in Strauss’ musical dramatization of Don Juan?”

Hear it firsthand. Strauss’ composition is first in the Alabama Symphony Orchestra lineup of Opening Masterworks.

4. Carpe Diem

Birmingham, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Opening Masterworks, Alys Stephens
Seize the music with the fabulous acoustics at Alys Stephens Center. Photo via UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, Facebook

Bartók’s health was failing badly in 1943. That is, until a conductor named Serge Koussevitzky went to his hospital room and commissioned an orchestral composition. That gave the Hungarian composer a new lease on life, and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra was the result. Though Bartók died less than a year after the debut performance, his final stunning masterwork lives on.

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra ends each evening of Opening Masterworks, Oct. 19 and 20, with Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. Daring solos from each section of the orchestra, along with those killer acoustics at the Alys Stephens Center, will wow you.

5. World-Class Performance

Birmingham, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Opening Masterworks, Carlos Izcaray, Alys Stephens
Carlos Izcaray. Photo submitted

As the music director of Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Izcaray puts Birmingham on the world map.

He’s garnered praise from the international press and has won top prizes at the Aspen Music Festival and the Toscanini International Conducting Competition. He also happens to be a dual citizen of Spain and Venezuela and has lived in Berlin. We think it’s pretty cool that he’s now a full-time Birmingham resident.

What does Izcaray love about the Magic City?

“The magnificent foliage, our great dining scene, the city’s cultural offerings, our medical community, super friendly people and, of course, our fantastic Alabama Symphony Orchestra!” Izcaray said.

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