After a pandemic absence of more than two years, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra returns to the UGA Performing Arts Center’s Hodgson Concert Hall on March 4 at 8 p.m.
Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles leads Mahler’’s epic “First Symphony” and Michelle Cann is the soloist for “Piano Concerto in One Movement” by Florence Price (1887-1953), the first Black American woman to have a symphony played by a major orchestra.
Following decades of neglect, Price’s music is having a moment. The Philadelphia Orchestra is recording all four of her symphonies. When Cann, the Eleanor Sokoloff Chair in Piano Studies at the Curtis Institute, played Price’s concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra last year, the Philadelphia Inquirer called her performance “exquisite.”
In advance of this Athens concert, WUGA is broadcasting “The Price of Admission: A Musical Biography of Florence Beatrice Price,” a one-hour documentary by Terrance McKnight of WQXR in New York. It will air in the time slots usually occupied by “Athens News Matters,” Friday, Feb. 25 at. 1 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 26 at 10 a.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 27 at noon.
Runnicles, who also serves as general music director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and music director of the Grand Teton Music Festival, is most at home in Romantic and post-Romantic repertoire. Thus, the Mahler “First” is in his wheelhouse. A symphony like no other, it opens with the unforgettable sound of a still, quiet note in the highest and lowest strings, then woodwinds imitating bird calls, and offstage trumpets.
The second movement is a vivid Austrian folk dance, the third a sardonic funeral march based on “Frère Jacques.” By the time the piece reaches its glorious end, the French horns stand up to deliver a chorale as radiant as Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus.
The Atlanta Symphony will appear again at Hodgson Concert Hall May 1, with Runnicles and two soloists, violinist David Coucheron and harpist Elisabeth Remy Johnson. That concert is during the Performing Arts Center’s 25th anniversary week, which begins with an April 24 performance by six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald. The orchestra helped inaugurate the hall in 1996 and has visited the venue consistently in the years since.
Classical music in the UGA Presents season continues with Edgar Meyer and the Scottish Ensemble (April 1) and the Pacifica Quartet and clarinetist Anthony McGill (April 19)
For each of these performances, 25 tickets are available for just $25, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Performing Arts Center. Tickets for UGA students are always $10.
For a complete list of UGA Presents performances, visit pac.uga.edu/organizer/uga-presents.
To learn more about all UGA Performing Arts Center events, visit pac.uga.edu.
Three Ways to Order
- Purchase tickets online at pac.uga.edu.
- Call the Performing Arts Center box office at 706-542-4400, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Visit the UGA Performing Arts Center box office, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (five-minute parking is available in the drop off circle at the Performing Arts Center for purchasing or picking up tickets.)
For information about the Performing Arts Center’s COVID-19 protocols, visit pac.uga.edu/safety-first. Flexible ticketing will be in place for all performances occurring through May 2022. Patrons may exchange tickets for another performance or receive a full refund until noon on the day of the performance, if occurring on a weekday, or by Friday at 5 p.m. if occurring on a weekend.