By Natasha Anderson
The Asheville Symphony’s (ASO’s) 2019 Asheville Amadeus Festival, a biennial multi-genre Mozart-inspired event, begins on Friday, March 15, and ends on Sunday, March 24. First held in 2015, Asheville Amadeus has since expanded from a week-long format to a grand ten-day celebration. This year’s festival includes more than 30 public and private events at multiple Asheville venues, featuring all-star musicians including Gov’t Mule front man and GRAMMY Award-winning vocalist, songwriter, producer and revered guitarist Warren Haynes.
“This festival highlights the things that make our community unique and special,” says ASO executive director David Whitehill. “At its core are one-of-a-kind collaborations between musicians, brewers, dancers, chefs and other creative professionals from across the city.”
Amadeus 2019 kicks off on Friday, March 15, at Burial Beer Co., with the release of the brewery’s Amadeus-inspired The Righteous and Barbaric Souls Imperial Stout.
The next evening, ASO joins Haynes in a symphonic performance of the rocker’s career-spanning material, Warren Haynes Presents: Dreams & Songs—A Symphonic Journey. Born and raised in Asheville, Haynes is recognized as one of the finest guitar players in the world and part of three of the greatest rock groups in history— The Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule and The Dead. For this special Amadeus performance, Haynes is also joined ASO’s 2019 Asheville Amadeus Festival by Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers Band, Dead & Co., The Aquarium Rescue Unit), John Medeski (Medeski Martin & Wood, Phil Lesh & Friends), and Jeff Sipe (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Leftover Salmon). Rich Daniels, the musical director of The City Lights Orchestra in Chicago, will conduct.
“This is a project I’ve been thinking about ever since I was given the opportunity to interpret and celebrate the music of Jerry Garcia with a symphony a few years ago,” says Haynes. “When I was recently asked to perform at the Amadeus Festival, it seemed like a great opportunity to start diving into my own repertoire and continue my symphonic journey.”
Over the next week, Amadeus kicks into high gear with performances ranging from Mozart, Mountains and Mickey Mouse, a family concert from Asheville Community Band with a lineup of Disney and Appalachian favorites, to Ballet with Bach and Rach with the Ballet Conservatory of Asheville. On Tuesday, March 19, Takács Quartet and star pianist Garrick Ohlsson join forces for a performance hosted by Asheville Chamber Music Series at Diana Wortham Theatre.
Other events include an Amadeus-only musical history LaZoom bus tour of Asheville, hosted by local musician Andrew Fletcher; a fashion show with the Asheville Symphonettes; a progressive chamber concert walking tour with Pan Harmonia; special screenings of Shine at Grail Moviehouse; and a flight night of Austrian wines at Burial Beer Co.’s new Forestry Camp Restaurant and Bar.
On Saturday, March 23, Ohlsson joins the Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra for the 2019 finale eve concert, featuring Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Mozart’s Overture to The Magic Flute and Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No. 2. This concert features all five orchestras of the ASYO: the Youth Orchestra, Philharmonia, Prelude Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and the Percussion Ensemble.
For the festival’s grand finale, ASO presents Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 and a powerhouse performance of two masterful Rachmaninoff compositions: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Piano Concerto No. 2—with expert Rachmaninoff interpreter Ohlsson on the piano. Asheville Symphony Music Director Darko Butorac will join the orchestra on Thomas Wolfe Auditorium’s giant stage, complete with a 32-foot extension that thrusts the Symphony into the audience.
“Ohlsson is a superstar of the piano, someone who brings half a century of performing experience with this repertoire,” says Butorac. “And instead of performing just one of the Rachmaninoff pieces, he will do both—a virtuosic feat. This is the kind of concert you would have a hard time finding even in New York.”
Event prices range from free to $72. Details and purchase instructions for individual events can be found at AshevilleAmadeus.org. For more information, call or visit the Asheville Symphony offices, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 828.254.7046, 27 College Pl., Suite 100.