NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 11, 2012

A season of change

Symphony by the Sea turns more attention to Newburyport

Symphony by the Sea will launch its 32nd season this weekend with an eye toward increasing its presence in the Newburyport area.

The 35-member orchestra will be joined by three young singers for “An Opera Lovers Delight” Sunday afternoon at 3 in the Performing Arts Center on the campus of The Governor’s Academy on Elm Street in Byfield.

In addition to its traditional fall, winter and spring performances, the ensemble is adding a fourth concert to its program this year, a Thanksgiving weekend special family concert at Newburyport City Hall on Friday, Nov. 23, at Newburyport City Hall.

The additional concert represents the start of a stronger commitment to Newburyport, according to Symphony by the Sea spokesman and board member Matthew Sagal.

“Symphony by the Sea recognizes that we have two ‘centers of gravity’ — Marblehead and Newburyport,” Sagal said in an e-mail message. “For historical reasons, we have been somewhat ‘Marblehead-centric,’ For example, last year’s sold-out family concert was only in Marblehead. As part of an overall strategy ... we are increasing our emphasis on Newburyport.”

Sagal said the orchestra board is “actively making plans for deeper Newburyport connections, but we are not able to announce anything yet.”

Sunday’s initial concert features some of opera’s greatest hits, with instrumental pieces, such as the overtures to “The Marriage of Figaro” and “The Barber of Seville” rendered by the orchestra, and arias, duets and trios sung by soprano Sara Heaton, tenor Michael Kuhn and baritone Ross Benoliel.

Music director and conductor Donald Palma is enthusiastic about the entire upcoming season.

“All the concerts are going to be wonderful,” he said. “I like all the programs for different reasons.”

Palma will introduce programs from the podium this season, doing away with the formal pre-concert lectures of years past.

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