By Natasha Anderson
After a summer season of pandemic-friendly, small-ensemble concerts, the full Blue Ridge Orchestra (BRO) reunites on Saturday, September 11, at 7:30 p.m., in Diana Wortham Theatre for a concert honoring first responders and essential workers.
“Over this past long, silent year, I think a lot of us were forced—and privileged—to sit on our hands, unable to do anything more than wait out the pandemic and try to be responsible from a public health standpoint,” says BRO executive director Melon Weddick. “But while we sat home, there were so many people out there every day, putting their lives on the line, either because they wanted to or because they had to.”
Heroes Among Us is an opportunity for BRO to give back by honoring not just first responders and medical workers but all of the people who keep our world turning, including grocery store workers, bus drivers, postal workers and food service workers.
In gratitude for their service, and with the help of sponsorship by Ingles Markets, the orchestra is offering $5 tickets to anyone who was an essential worker in 2020-21.
The September 11 program includes Beethoven’s Eroica, an ode to heroism that celebrates the triumph of man over adversity and reflects the admiration we feel for noble acts of self-sacrifice. Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor completes the program with a lamentation for lives lost. Local cellist Franklin Keel joins the orchestra as featured soloist in Elgar’s famously difficult work.
“For an orchestra performing for the first time in 18 months, it is a comfort to play familiar music that has been inspiring and uplifting musicians and concertgoers for centuries,” says BRO music director Milton Crotts. “The outer movements of Beethoven’s Eroica and Elgar’s Cello Concerto are companion pieces—the first a triumphant salute to heroism, the second an offering of solace in times of monumental sorrow.”
Diana Wortham Theatre is located at 18 Biltmore Avenue, in Asheville. Tickets are $20 general admission and $5 for essential workers, and are available through Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, WorthamArts.org or 828.257.4530. For full concert information, see BlueRidgeOrchestra.org.