Music for moonlight

Published 7:20 pm Friday, January 24, 2020

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Orchestra returns thanks to Camp Foundation


Adam Turner

If you have ever heard the Virginia Symphony perform in any venue, then you are already aware of the musical heights the orchestra can take its listeners. Next Saturday, Feb. 1, the musicians will send their audience to the moon and planets, all the while as we sit comfortably in the auditorium of Southampton High School.

One feature that will make this journey especially enjoyable is that it is free to everyone. You read correctly. Your ticket to ride requires no money, but simply your time and willingness to listen. According to Franklin-Southampton Concert Association President Nancy Rowe, the open admission is courtesy of the generosity of the Camp Foundation, which annually sponsors this visit.

Adam Turner, who is the artistic director of the Virginia Opera, will be guest conductor for this occasion. Regular concert-goers might recall Turner’s first visit in 2018 when he brought three singers for that evening’s program of opera highlights. This time, though, only one singing soloist will grace the stage.

Symone Harcum

Symone Harcum, a soprano, will perform the enchanting “Song to the Moon” from Antonin Dvorák’s “Rusalka.” She’ll later perform “Old Devil Moon” by Burton Lane.

According to information provided by the VSO, Harcum earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Norfolk State University, then became a choral director for Norfolk Public Schools until 2016. Most recently, Harum has received her master’s of music degree from the Peabody Conservatory at John’s Hopkins University. She’s also trained in the studio of renowned singers Denyce Graves and Margaret Baroody.

Harcum belongs to the VOA’s Hernon Foundation Emerging Artists Program this season, and will make her debut on Friday as Clorinda in Gioachino Rossini’s “La Cenerentola,” or as we better know the central character, Cinderella. She is expected to sing in “Aida” in March. Visit for details of other performances.

Christopher Palestrant

Other celestial favorites will include Claude Debussy’s Clair De Lune, Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” and “Mars” by Gustav Holst.

In the second half, Christopher Palestrant will narrate James A. Beckel Jr.’s “From the Earth to the Moon and Beyond.”

The VSO reports that Palestrant is Professor of Music Composition and chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Elizabeth City State University, where he was honored as the 2010 “Teacher of the Year” by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

As a composer, his works and arrangements have been performed throughout the country by ensembles including the Samuel Barber String Quartet, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, the Albemarle Symphony Orchestra and the Tidewater Winds.

Speaking of Tidewater, Dr. Palestrant is a member of the well-known blues band, Uphill.

The program begins at 7:30 p.m. Should you miss this event, heaven forfend, then there’s a chance to hear the orchestra at First Flight High School Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, also at 7:30 p.m., on Saturday, Feb. 29.

For more information, call Rowe at 653-7914.