Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Richmond Symphony recasts series with move downtown next season

The Richmond Symphony is betting almost all its chips on the new downtown Richmond CenterStage theater complex, scheduled to open in September.

In a letter to patrons, the orchestra announces that next season it will move its mainstage Masterworks concerts back into the Carpenter Theatre (formerly Carpenter Center), presenting Saturday night and Sunday matinee performances. This will mark the end of Monday night concerts, which the symphony has staged since its debut in 1957.

Pops concerts also will return to the Carpenter Theatre, continuing on Saturday nights, with an additional Sunday matinee for the Christmas-season "Let It Snow!" program. The 1,750-seat venue will be used for a single performance of Handel’s "Messiah."

The symphony will discontinue its Kicked Back Classics casual concert series after this season, replacing it with a "Lollipops" series of educational family concerts, staged at the Carpenter Theatre on Saturday mornings.

The only subscription series to maintain a suburban presence will be four chamber-orchestra concerts. In recent years, they have been festivals centering on composers (Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Haydn). The series will be renamed "Metro Connection," with concerts at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland paired with performances at other, yet to be named venues in the metropolitan Richmond area.

David Fisk, the orchestra's executive director, writes that the changes follow audience "surveys and comments over the past 18 months." He adds: "[E]very effort is being made to assure that there is ample, safe, affordable downtown parking."