By Natasha Anderson
After a 15-month pandemic-imposed hiatus, The Blue Ridge Orchestra (BRO) has returned to live performances. Sponsored by Ingles Markets, the orchestra holds an unprecedented summer season in downtown Asheville. The al fresco chamber concert Summer Winds takes place Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25, at 5:30 p.m. at Wortham Center for the Performing Arts’ Market Street Courtyard.
“The Summer Winds program features chamber music by some of the greatest symphonic composers who ever lived,” says BRO music director Milton Crotts. “This is an opportunity to hear their genius in miniature, with 14 different wind instruments performing in four different ensemble configurations, as well as a vibraphone solo.”
Selections include Mozart’s Serenade No. 11 in E flat, Schubert’s Little Symphony for Winds, Bach’s Prelude to Cello Suite No. 1 in G major and Stravinsky’s Octet for wind instruments.
On September 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Diana Wortham Theatre, the full orchestra will present Heroes Among Us, a musical tribute that expresses the conflicting feelings engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 20th anniversary of 9/11—lamentation for lives lost, coupled with admiration for the heroes who made selfless sacrifices in the service of strangers. This program features a movement of Beethoven’s Eroica symphony, a musical ode to the concept of heroism, alongside Elgar’s darker Cello Concerto in E minor, which speaks of the sorrow and pity of the period following World War I.
“This concert honors not just the first responders from 9/11 but also all of the frontline workers who put themselves at risk in order to keep society functioning during the pandemic, and, accordingly, we’re offering $5 tickets to anyone who was considered an essential worker during that time,” says BRO executive director Melon Wedick. “We are especially grateful to Ingles Markets for making that possible by sponsoring the concert.”
Both performances are ticketed through Wortham Center for the Performing Arts. For ticket prices and purchases, visit WorthamArts.org. For full concert information, see BlueRidgeOrchestra.org.