Performing Arts

A Season of Firsts at ASO

A Season of Firsts at ASO

Darko Butorac, conductor. Photo by Michael Morel.

The Asheville Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO’s) 59th season offers an abundance of enhancements, beginning with the addition of five new named chairs and including several first-time experiences for audiences. Concert attendees can enjoy both well-known works and new and unusual pieces in grand concerts, recitals featuring world-famous pianists and celebratory events in honor of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

The orchestra will be larger than ever as new music director Darko Butorac fills positions that had been open for several years. The wind and brass sections are the first to expand with the addition of flute no. 2 Kellie Henry, flute no.3/piccolo Dilshad Posnock, trumpet no. 3 Christopher Underwood, bass trombone Jeremy Marks and principal tuba Bethany Wiese.

“We have another round in early September dedicated entirely to string openings,” says Butorac. “As music director, I think this is one of the most important parts of my job because it lays the foundation for our orchestral sound for years to come.”

On Saturday, September 21, at 8 p.m., the Symphony’s season begins with Masterworks 1: ¡Exótico!, including works by Ginastera, Piazzola, Revueltas and Ravel. This is the first concert in ASO history to focus entirely on pieces from South America and the first time ASO will perform the works by Ginastera and Piazzola.

“Programming is centered around Ravel’s celebrated Bolero,” says Butorac. “The other works are all complementary: Ginastera’s Estancia Dances is inspired by the Argentinian pampas, Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires has roots in the sultry sound of tango and Revueltas’ Sensemaya is a wild, savage work that portrays a snake ritual from the Caribbean.”

Other firsts this season include a Masterworks 2 performance of Masquerade, a piece by contemporary composer Anna Clyne, a live recording and mastering of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony during Masterworks 6, and LudwigVaniversary, a tribute to Beethoven’s 250th birthday. The four-month celebration includes larger concerts, piano concertos from world-famous pianists and an art installation at LEAF Global Arts Center that stretches Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 to 24 hours.

“We’re looking forward to the season, especially celebrating LudwigVaniversary,” says ASO’s executive director David Whitehill. “We’re celebrating with all things Beethoven, including food, music and a creative installation.”

Thomas Wolfe Auditorium is located at 87 Haywood Street in Asheville. Single tickets and season ticket packages can be purchased online at, by phone at 828.254.7046 or in person at the U.S. Cellular Center box office at 87 Haywood Street.

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