Racine Symphony Orchestra (Racine, WI)

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Close up of faces of violinists in performance

The violin section of the Racine Symphony Orchestra during their 2007 concert season. Photo by Brad Jaeck

Summertime Pops concerts by the Racine Symphony feature light and lively fare: Broadway classics like Annie Get Your Gun and soundtracks from films such as Star Wars and On Golden Pond. Supper is served at these casual concerts, and the conductor engages with the audience between numbers, making them almost a dinner theater experience rather than a traditional concert. The Pops concerts are Racine favorites, drawing up to 700 people per night.

The Racine Symphony Orchestra (RSO) hoped to extend the popularity of its summer season into its fall season. To do this, the RSO planned to produce a showstopper concert featuring works by the greats, plus a new piece by their new music director, Andrew Massey. “We try to pinpoint those who enjoy the lighter classical fare in the summertime,” said Executive Director Keith Hampton. To present this event, the RSO received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000.

Light classics at the opening performance meant Benjamin Britten’s Suite on English Folk Tunes. This work in five movements is based on traditional folk songs and dance tunes. Also on the program were Ludwig von Beethoven’s Overture from Coriolan, Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 (Symphonie Classique), and Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor.

To make the whole evening more accessible to Racine’s audiences, RSO created extensive program notes for each work. By giving the audience background information on the pieces, they hope to make the classical concert-going experience not only more understandable but enjoyable for any and all audience members.

(From the NEA 2007 Annual Report)