N.C. Symphony making Valentine's Day visit to Sanford

Free local class precedes concert
Jan. 24, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

SANFORD — Locals looking for a classy Valentine's date — or those who simply love classical music — can still purchase tickets to the Feb. 14 concert by the North Carolina Symphony in Sanford.

Held at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, the show will feature a variety of composers and musical styles. And for the uninitiated, Carolina Trace resident Rodney Winther will be teaching a free class for anyone who wants to know more about the orchestra's selections.

Winther, a former music professor who still travels around the world as a conductor, already held one class about symphony performances in general in recent weeks. At 5 p.m. on Feb. 9, he will hold a second class to explore the six pieces that will be played at the concert.

He's conducted several of the pieces himself, he said, and had good things to say about them all. Prokofiev's "Symphony No. 1" he called "a little gem," and he said Britten's "Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell" is one of the best pieces for people to listen to in order to learn about an orchestra and the different instruments that constitute one.

And understanding, Winther said, is the key to enjoying.

"It's a little bit like watching a hockey game and not knowing how it's supposed to go, or soccer," he said. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, that's interesting,' but then turn it off after a little while."

The class is free and will be held at the ballroom in the Carolina Trace Country Club, and anyone and everyone is invited to attend, even if they're not members or residents of the gated community off of Highway 87 South. All attendees have to do is approach the gate and say they're there for the symphony class, Winther said, and they'll be let in.

Martha Oldham, a longtime classical music fan and local volunteer, said the N.C. Symphony has been visiting Lee County since the 50's. She noted that not every state has a symphony, and North Carolina residents shouldn't take this asset for granted, whether they've seen dozens of performances or none. The set list for Sanford's show is full of approachable songs, she said, and both the conductor and pianist are internationally known.

"It's marvelous music," she said. "These are professional, top-notch musicians, so the quality of the music is outstanding."

The symphony, conducted by Grant Llewellyn and featuring piano soloist Clara Yang, will perform Schuman's "Piano Concerto," Mozart's "Overture to The Magic Flute" and Purcell's "Music from Abdelazar" in addition to the Britten and Prokofiev pieces.

Tickets range from $6 to $24 and can be bought online, over the phone at (919) 733-2750 or in Sanford at the Temple Theatre, the Enrichment Center or either Capital Bank location. Several local restaurants will also be having dinner specials before the concert, which starts at 7:30 p.m.