When the Queens Symphony Orchestra books a gig at Flushing Town Hall, it skips the stage and heads straight to the floor.
“We want to bring the audience and orchestra physically closer together,” QSO Music Director Constantine Kitsopoulos said. “I like the idea of the audience right on top of the players.”
During the next few weeks, borough residents can snag a couple of free seats close to the hometown musicians as the symphony kicks off its new season with programs of jazz, classical and Spanish flamenco music. Although the symphony regularly plays free summer shows at parks around the borough, last spring Kitsopoulos decided to expand those opportunities and bring the tunes indoors.
“We wanted to get into the community more,” Kitsopoulos said. “We wanted to serve the community by doing more.”
The two opening shows, May 8 at Queens College, at 65-30 Kissena Blvd., and May 10 at Flushing Town Hall, at 137-35 Northern Blvd., will include plenty of music easily recognized by first-time concert goers. George Gershwin’s “Concerto in F” shares the bill with Peter Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5” at Queens College. Tchaikovsky pops up again at Flushing Town Hall, where his work accompanies music by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla.
Although the program may seem cobbled together, Kitsopoulos, who is in his sixth year as music director, said he tries to create an evening that makes sense and has an artistic flow. He knew pianist Reed Tetaloff, who won the symphony’s Young Soloist Competition last year, planned on performing the Gershwin piece at the May 8 show. From there, Kitsopoulos said, it was easy to make the leap to Tchaikovsky.
“The soloist is promised a chance to perform and Reed had prepared Gershwin,” Kitsopoulos said. “So, then it was what goes with that? Gershwin’s ancestors were from Eastern Europe and Tchaikovsky was Russian. I try to make those connections.”
Connecting with residents new to this genre is just as important to Kitsopoulos as crafting a well-balanced evening of music.
Because arts funding is usually the first line item cut in tight school budgets, Kitsopoulos said there are fewer people today exposed to symphonic performances.
“With the loss of arts in schools, we’ve lost a couple of generations of young people,” Kitsopoulos said. “You have the problem today that a lot of young parents don’t have the experience with this music, so we have to work to get the kids and the parents.”
If you go
Queens Symphony Orchestra free concerts
Wednesday, May 8, 7:30 p.m., at Queens College LeFrak Concert Hall, 65-30 Kissena Blvd. and Friday, May 10, 7:30 p.m., at Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd.
©2013 Community News Group
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