Sat­isfy, Sur­prise, Sur­pass

SoNA sea­son in­tro­duces more mu­sic to love

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FAYETTEVILLE - BECCA MARTIN-BROWN

For this sea­son — and re­ally any sea­son — my goal is three­fold,” says Paul Haas, mu­sic di­rec­tor of the Sym­phony of North­west Arkansas. “First, to sat­isfy the au­di­ence mem­ber, to give them some­thing truly spe­cial. Sec­ond, to sur­prise the au­di­ence mem­ber, to sur­pass their ex­pec­ta­tions and give them a new ap­proach to the con­cert ex­pe­ri­ence. And third, to high­light the in­cred­i­ble mu­si­cians who make up this ex­tra­or­di­nary en­sem­ble.”

The 2017-18 SoNA sea­son kicks off on Oct. 14 with Master­works I: Tchaikovsky 5, fea­tur­ing guest trum­peter Christo­pher Co­letti of the Cana­dian Brass quin­tet. On Dec. 16, it’s A Very SoNA Christ­mas with the SoNA Singers and guest cho­ruses, fol­lowed by “The Snow­man: A Fam­ily Con­cert” on Dec. 17. On Jan. 27, Bruce Schultz, prin­ci­pal horn of SoNA and the Tulsa Sym­phony, takes the stage for Master­works II: Mozart & Men­delssohn, while on March 10, SoNA swings to the sounds of Pops: Fayet­teville Jazz Col­lec­tive. And, to fin­ish the sea­son on a high note on May 5, SoNA wel­comes an in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned cast of tal­ented opera singers for Master­works III: “La Bo­heme.”

All that be­ing said, Haas be­lieves “there are two con­certs that re­ally will be un­like any­thing else we’ve seen pre­sented in North­west Arkansas: First is the col­lab­o­ra­tive con­cert with SoNA and the Fayet­teville Jazz Col­lec­tive, play­ing the great­est cin­e­matic hits of the past cen­tury. Then, the fi­nal Master­works con­cert will be stag­ger­ing in scope, start­ing with the first act of Puc­cini’s best-known opera, ‘La Bo­heme,’ and blow­ing the roof off af­ter the in­ter­mis­sion with Strauss’ ‘Zarathus­tra,’ best known as the open­ing sound­track from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.”

Haas, who has been with SoNA since its re­vival un­der that name, is in the mid­dle of his own odyssey, which he says does af­fect him mu­si­cally.

He and wife Suzette Won Haas and their two daugh­ters are “in the mid­dle of mov­ing into our new home­stead in the Hud­son Val­ley, where we’re plan­ning on grow­ing most of our own food,” he says with en­thu­si­asm. “At this point, it’s all about fix­ing the things that need to be fixed and then mov­ing in all our fur­ni­ture — I know, ex­cit­ing stuff!

“Af­ter that, I get to build the mo­bile chicken coop, cut in a whole lot of swales and plant nut trees in the fall. And did I men­tion the birth of our son this com­ing Septem­ber?

“There’s a lot go­ing on in my life right now, all in­cred­i­bly rich and mean­ing­ful,” he says. “And yes, it does have a rel­e­vance to the mu­sic I write, which cel­e­brates the beauty that swirls around us, wait­ing to be no­ticed.”

That sen­ti­ment also res­onates with Matthew Her­ren, SoNA’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. His vi­sion for this and ev­ery sea­son is “more of the mu­sic that people know and love, com­bined with mu­sic people may not know that they will love.”

“He’s maybe a lit­tle riskier than I would be,” Her­ren says of Haas’ mu­si­cal se­lec­tions. “But he’s very in touch with the au­di­ence and very aware that the con­cert is for the au­di­ence, not for him.

“I wish that people who may be new to us would come and get hooked,” he adds. “One of the things about any orches­tra — and par­tic­u­larly SoNA — you can’t re­ally sam­ple it, you can’t de­scribe it, but when you’re in the room, you get hooked.

“Be­ing with other people for a shared ex­pe­ri­ence is still valu­able to hu­man be­ings,” Her­ren be­lieves. “The sym­phony may not be the most im­me­di­ate choice for mu­sic, but I don’t think we have lost what it takes to ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­pe­ri­ence. TV did not kill live sports! There’s still noth­ing like go­ing to a foot­ball game!”


Paul Haas, mu­sic di­rec­tor of SoNA since its re­vival un­der that name, is known for sur­pris­ing his au­di­ence. His first con­cert ended with the Ra­zor­back Fight Song.

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