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Symphony season kicks off at Stephens Performing Arts Center

Friday marks the start of symphony season in Pocatello.

“It’s kind of a tradition in symphonies to kind of kick things off,” Heather Clarke, executive director of the Idaho State-Civic Symphony, said. “So, we kick it off with a tailgate.”

While not your traditional tailgate, the indoor barbeque featuring live music is what draws crowds into the Stephens Performing Arts Center for each season primer.

This year’s theme is the storied season.

“Each concert throughout the season will revolve around storied themes, so this first concert is the ‘Americana Stories,'” Clarke explained.

Friday, four compositions were played across two sets.

“One is called ‘Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman’ by Joan Tower, and we’ll follow that up with the ‘Symphony No. 3’ by Florence Price,” artistic director and conductor Julie Sorensen said. “Then, the second half will be the ‘Afro-American Symphony’ by William Grant-Still, and then ‘Transcend’ by Zhou Tian.”

The final piece, ‘Transcend,’ received its Idaho premiere Friday, having been commissioned in part by the Idaho State-Civic Symphony.

As a whole, the evening was planned to keep people interested and involved.

“It’s something that everybody can sit and enjoy and really get into and not be bored,” Sorensen said. “There’s too much excitement tonight, there’s no way you could be bored at the symphony.”

But nights like Friday don’t just happen, they take lots of planning and practice.

“My entire summer is usually spent prepping for these concerts,” Clarke said. “Certainly, our artistic director, Dr. Julie Sorensen, she’s already planning now for next season.”

Sorensen’s prep for the first night alone is incredible.

“You have to learn not only your part, but, as a conductor, you do need to learn all of the parts of the symphony of everybody that’s playing,” Sorensen explained.

A roster of about 90 people to create the sights and sounds of the symphony.

Clarke added that the symphony is accessible to everyone and is not the high-brow pearls and tuxedo extravaganza it may appear to be.

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