As music director Kim Allen Kluge begins his second year of conducting the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) in the new Rachel Schlesinger Concert Hall, he couldn’t be happier.
“With the upcoming season, I feel triply blessed,” he said. “I get to stand in front of the orchestra, we’re on stage in the hall, and we have a phenomenal lineup of soloists.”
One of those soloists is Stephanie Chase, who will perform at the opening concert on Saturday, Sept. 21. “She’s one of the greatest violinists,” said Kluge. This concert, Legend and Lore, will be filled with “epic, sweeping stories that take you on a compelling emotional journey.” These include Shore’s “Lord of the Rings,” Strauss’ “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” Sibelius’ “Swan of Tuonela” from “Legends” and Sibelius’ Concerto for Violin. Following the concert will be a gala opening reception.
The season continues with “Benny!” a collection of Benny Goodman tunes in November; “Immortal Beloved-Secret Lovers” in February; “Music from Fantasia” in April; and “A Night at the Oscars” in May.
Dr. Robert Wineland, who has been a season ticket-holder for many years, said, “The new hall is great. The sound is wonderful, and you feel so upbeat being there.”
Wineland said that he has attended concerts by both the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra and said, “In most cases, Kim can match or better them. I think he’s a hidden jewel waiting to be discovered.”
THE RACHEL M. SCHLESINGER Concert Hall and Arts Center has proved to be all that Kluge hoped for — and then some.
“Last season I was thrilled. It exceeded all my expectations, and I was particularly delighted by the surprises,” he said.
One of those surprises was the effect of the musicians being able to hear themselves better because of the improved acoustics.
“A lot of us had come to expect a lot of the ASO musicians. What surprised me was how much better the orchestra became [at the new hall], not because the acoustics made them sound better but because the musicians could hear themselves better and played better as both individuals and as an orchestra,” said Kluge. “I felt fortunate to be a part of that sound.”
Kluge continued, “Another surprise was the relationship between the music happening on the stage and the audience. The direct energy from the stage to the audience and the audience to the stage exceeded my expectations.”
Because of his new intimacy, Kluge said that the thematic approach he uses for his concerts works even better. “The thematic approach offers windows through which the audience can see the music.”
Kluge was reluctant to specify which concert last year was his favorite, since he enjoyed all of them. However, he did say, “There was nothing like the inaugural performance. With so many community members involved and with it coming right after 9-11, it was an unforgettable experience.”
Kluge’s only regret thus far? “I wish I could have six performances of each concert. But it will happen,” he said.
The first ASO concert will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. ,at The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, 3001 N. Beauregard St. For tickets and information, call 703-548-0885.