Symphony brings the sound of the orchestra to the great outdoors



The Hartford Symphony Orchestra is vacating the city for the summer to give the fans of orchestral music (newcomers) the opportunity to experience the sounds of the symphony under a canopy of stars.

The symphony will be presenting its annual Talcott Mountain Music Festival, from June 29 through July 27 at Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center in Simsbury.

HSO’s assistant conductor Adam Boyles will be wielding the baton as the HSO presents evenings of pop concert repertoires as well as joint ventures with the likes of the legendary Doc Severinsen.

In an email exchange, Boyles spoke about the upcoming summer season.

Observer: What do you like about concerts in the open air and the tradition of a “pops” concert series—rather than the traditional orchestral classical music bent inside a music hall?

Boyles: The experience of the concert hall is geared toward a communal focus and meditation on the music alone. When listening to music al fresco, the music forms one part in the whole of the event, which could also include eating, taking in the scenery, and enjoying the company of others. There’s a certain informality to it which adds a nice balance to the more serious music, which makes up the brunt of the indoor season.

O: What do you like about exposing the sound of an orchestra to a wide variety of age groups?

B: It’s about sharing what I love, and meeting people wherever their musical journey is at the moment. Some people will be hearing a symphony orchestra and symphonic music for the first time, while others might be celebrating multiple decades of coming to concerts. I like to hope that we give a memorable performance for everyone in that spectrum.

O: As a musician and conductor, let’s talk about each of the different concerts coming up and why you like them and why audiences will like them?

B: With the first concert, “Celebrate America” (June 29), and the fourth concert, “Magical Movie Music” (July 20), my HSO colleagues and I assembled these programs from scratch, so apart from the enjoyment of the repertoire itself, I hope our audiences also come away with a satisfying narrative/thematic experience. With the other three shows, Brass Transit – The Music of Chicago (July 6), Doc Severinsen (July 13), and Rewind – The Music of the 80s (July 27), audiences will get to enjoy top-notch musicians from around the country in a wide variety of genres.

O: One of the highlights of the season is Doc Severinsen, the band leader for Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show” for many years. What’s exciting about the opportunity to work him?

B: Can you believe that the week before our concert with him Doc will turn 91? He’s a legend, one of the greatest performers and entertainers in this country, and our concert will be his final symphonic performance. (It’s) truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. To say I’m excited about it doesn’t quite do it justice.

O: How much input did you have in selecting the series? What does the HSO look for when crafting a summer series?

B: All of us on the HSO staff contribute ideas during the course of the year with the goal of crafting a summer with variety and fun. From there, it’s a matter of finding the right performers, and working out the puzzle that is scheduling.

O: This summer also will be a first for you in that you will be conducting the entire series. How does it feel?

B: I’m deeply grateful and honored that the HSO has given me the entire series. Making music with my supremely talented and dedicated colleagues is one of the great joys in my life, and I’m anxious for our month-long collaboration to begin.

O: Ultimately, why will audiences enjoy coming out to the summer series?

B: Great music, a great setting, something for audiences of all ages…what’s not to love?

The schedule for the Talcott Mountain Music Festival is as follows:

“Celebrate America!” is Friday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m. (Rain date is Saturday, June 30.) Fireworks will follow. The concert will feature the Asylum Hill Congregational Church Choir, the Newington Church of Christ Congregational Choir, and soprano Sonja Dutoit Tengbland. This program will include patriotic favorites, plus a tribute to Leonard Bernstein.

“Brass Transit – The Musical Legacy of Chicago” is Friday, July 6 at 7:30p.m. The concert is rain or shine. This Chicago tribute will team up with HSO for songs such as “Saturday In The Park,” “If You Leave Me Now,” “25 or 6 To 4,” and “You’re The Inspiration.”

“HERE’S DOC! Celebrating 60 Years in Show Business is Friday, July 13, at 7:30 p.m. It’s rain or shine. Doc Severinsen will pay homage to the American songbook and highlights some of his favorite tunes of the Big Band era and beyond.

“Magical Movie Music” is Friday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m. It will be held rain or shine. The evening will include music from Academy Award-nominated films, including “Chicago,” “The Godfather,” “Forrest Gump,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Amadeus.

“REWIND: Celebrating the Music of the 80s” will be Friday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m. (Rain date is Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m.) “REWIND: Celebrating the Music of the 80s” will include a rock band and vocalists, who will join HSO to play music from Wham, U2, INXS, Kool and the Gang, REM, Billy Joel and more.

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