Steve Vai to rock with Alabama Symphony Orchestra at Sound Edge Festival 2018. Get tickets for 3 unique performances Oct. 30-Nov. 2.

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Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Sound Edge Festival, Steve Vai
Steve Vai. Photo submitted

Gripping tangos, modern soundscapes, a new composition by Alabama native Martin Kennedy—and Steve Vai? One of the great guitarists of all time? You bet. Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s annual Sound Edge Festival expands the definition of a night at the symphony to our surprise and delight. Grab your tickets for three evenings of music at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham, Oct. 30, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.

Sound Edge Festival 2018

It takes two, plus a bandoneon player, to tango. Photo submitted

The Lineup

  • Piazzolla’s Tango Sensations, Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m., $29. Raul Jaurena, a Latin Grammy award-winning bandoneon player, joins Maestro Carlos Izcaray and Alabama Symphony Orchestra string players to celebrate the music of Astor Piazzolla, the world’s foremost tango composer. Olé! Learn more and buy tickets
  • Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 3, PLUS the world premiere of Martin Kennedy’s “Forest Dark and Stars Above,” Thursday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m., $25. Kennedy is the ASO’s 2018-19 Sound Investment Composer. Learn more and buy tickets.
  • Steve Vai, Friday, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m., $25-$45. Hello, rock-orchestra. Vai, a virtuoso guitarist, visionary composer and multi-Grammy award winner, takes the stage with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Learn more and buy tickets

Tip: Want to sample the artists and musical styles you’ll hear at Sound Edge Festival 2018 before you go? Visit one of the links above. At the bottom of the landing page, you’ll find a Spotify playlist that will give you a taste. 

A Sound Investment 

Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Kennedy, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Sound Edge Festival
Martin Kennedy, composer. Photo submitted

Every year, Alabama Symphony Orchestra commissions an original composition through its Sound Investment program. This year, Sound Investment brings home a native son—internationally acclaimed pianist and composer, Martin Kennedy, who was born in Tuscaloosa. You can catch the debut of Kennedy’s new composition along with Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 3 at the Sound Edge Festival on Nov. 1.

Bonus: the Nov. 1 performance is also part of ASO unwined, a happy hour concert series. Your ticket includes a complimentary drink. Score!

Dante’s Inferno partly inspired “Forest Dark and Stars Above,” Kennedy said. In the canto, the poet walks through a forest encountering evils and darkness. When he comes out the other side, he sees the stars and light above for the first time. Likewise, Kennedy’s composition moves from desolation to lightness.

“No matter who we are, we all enjoy being told a story,” Kennedy said. “In classical music, whether it’s Bach or Brahms or contemporary, the composer’s always trying to tell you a story. Anyone who comes to the symphony concert will have a fantastic experience with all of the pieces they encounter.” 

Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 3 is a rhythmic exploration of tension and relaxation. Image submitted

Very different in style, Glass’ and Kennedy’s works performed side by side by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra will open your mind to the breadth and range of modern-day composers.

Be among the first in the world to hear Kennedy’s “Forest Dark and Stars Above,” along with Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 3. Get tickets for Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. at Alys Stephens Center.

The Legendary Steve Vai

Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Sound Edge Festival, Steve Vai
Steve Vai. Photo submitted

When Steve Vai was 12, he was cutting his teeth with the great Joe Satriani. At age 18, he graduated to Frank Zappa. In the era of big hair rock, Vai shredded with likes of David Lee Roth, Ozzy Osbourne and Spinal Tap, among others. 

Vai has sold over 15 million albums, won three Grammy Awards, composed for blockbuster films and bestselling video games, and proven himself as a consummate audio producer.

“Vai is the Paganini of electric guitar, an artist whose total mastery of the instrument has redefined his craft,” said Carlos Izcaray, music director at Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

“His visionary approach transcends any musical genre, and it provides a sound world with infinite possibilities, one that matches perfectly with a full symphony orchestra.”

For the final evening of the Sound Edge Festival on Nov. 2, Vai will bring down the house with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra at the Alys Stephens Center.

Do I need to say it? Okay.

Holy cow, Steve Vai is coming to Birmingham! Get your tickets now!

The Recap

Who has time for scrolling up? No one. Here are the details again so you don’t miss a beat of Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Sound Edge Festival 2018. All performances take place at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham.

  • Piazzolla’s Tango Sensations, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m., $29. Buy tickets
  • Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 3, and Martin Kennedy’s “Forest Dark and Stars Above,” Nov. 1 at 6 p.m., $25. Buy tickets.
  • Steve Vai, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m., $25-$45. Buy tickets

And if you can’t wait another day to get to the symphony, check out Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Opening Masterworks, Oct. 19 and 20.

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Terri Robertson
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