Celebrating Success

Celebrating Success

SoNA sets traditional but varied season


The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas is announcing what some might consider a very traditional season — Verdi, Chopin, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and the three B’s — Brahms, Bach and Beethoven. Music director Paul Haas is both astonished and delighted that’s possible.

“It’s almost unheard of in this country for an orchestra to be selling out straight-up classical concerts, and yet here we are, doing just that,” says Haas, who joined the orchestra eight years ago for its resurrection as SoNA. “This is the first season we’re shifting the balance of what we do. We’re retaining the Christmas and July 4 traditions we’ve established over the years and devoting the rest of our mainstage appearances — four — to Masterworks concerts. Over the past seven [seasons], we’ve witnessed a love affair blossoming between SoNA and our audiences, and we can’t wait to give them even more of what they want.”

That doesn’t mean there aren’t goals, says Matthew Herren, SoNA’s executive director.

“I hope we can continue to change the perception of orchestral concerts as stuffy, exclusive things that one needs to study up for,” he says with enthusiasm. “Music goes from the ear directly to the heart — and you don’t need to know anything about it to be moved.

“I think our success comes from a mix of programming, a loyal and generous community and a ‘slow-but-steady’ approach to growth,” he adds.

Haas promises the depth and breadth are still there in this year’s programming, even in a selection of the classics.

“This season is rich and varied,” he says with his trademark energy. “We feature repertoire from four centuries — from Bach to Bernstein and beyond — with four exceptional soloists, two of whom come from our own orchestra.

“Of course, we also have a dazzling Christmas spectacular in the works, as well as our fifth annual ‘Snowman’ performance – two of my favorite holiday traditions. There will truly be something for everyone!”

In addition to his work with SoNA, Haas is also music director for the Thunder Bay Bay Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, Canada.

“It’s a full-time professional orchestra during their October-April season, which means it’s a fabulous group to work with. I can’t believe how lucky I am to be able to work with both the TBSO and SoNA. They’re two extraordinary ensembles, able to play pretty much anything I put in front of them,” he says.

“[But] SoNA and our audiences are my first love. This was my first professional conducting position, and it’s been here that I’ve learned so much about conducting and being a leader. I can’t imagine ever wanting to leave this place. Northwest Arkansas is my musical home, and SoNA and our audiences have become an extended but very close-knit family to me.”

Paul Haas



SoNA Season

Nov. 3 — Masterworks I: Bernstein & Brahms: including Rautavaara, “Come un sogno”; Bernstein, Three Dance Episodes from “On the Town”; Brahms, Symphony No. 1, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 15 — “A Very SoNA Christmas”: A collection of favorite sacred and secular music celebrating the magic and beauty of Christmas and featuring the SoNA Singers, regional high school choirs, and special guest soloists, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 16 — The Snowman: A Family Concert: A special screening of the award-winning film “The Snowman” as SoNA musicians bring to life the extraordinary score in an afternoon that is sure to enchant your little ones, 2 p.m. Tickets are $9.

Jan. 26 — Masterworks II: Verdi & Chopin: Including Verdi, Overture to “La Forza del Destino”; Chopin, Piano Concerto No. 2, with pianist Andrew Tyson; Schumann, Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish,” 7:30 p.m.

March 9 — Masterworks III: Bach & Beethoven: Including Cerrone, “High Windows”; Bach, “Concerto for Two Violins,” with violinists Zsolt Eder and Miho Oda Sakon; Beethoven, Symphony No. 2, 7:30 p.m.

May 4 — Masterworks IV: The Rite of Spring: Including Revueltas, “Sensemayá”; Tchaikovsky, Variations on a Rococo Theme, with cellist Edgar Moreau; Stravinsky, “The Rite of Spring,” 7:30 p.m.

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — Season subscriptions are $135, $195 and $250; single tickets are $32, $44 and $55

INFO — 443-5600 or sonamusic.org

Categories: 'Tis the Season