The Galveston Symphony Orchestra will begin 2017 with a pops concert. Music Director Trond Saeverud talked about the program, the orchestra and the ongoing season.

Q: The first concert of the second half of the season is a pops concert celebrating the New Year. What have you got planned?

A: After several unusual and themed pops programs, we can actually create variation by returning to a more traditional pops lineup — a fun mix of waltzes and marches, most of them very well known! But we are adding two surprises: a Rossini aria arranged for tuba solo — and a local Mariachi Band from Texas City High School.

Q: The first part of the season included a premiere of a new work by a living composer, Adrienne Elisha’s “New Overture.” It was an interesting piece, but it was also surprising — you don’t expect orchestras in small cities to tackle that kind of thing. But concerts ought to include some surprises — part of the fun is discovering new and unexpected things. Is that part of your thinking? Why does Galveston Symphony Orchestra get out on the cutting edge?

A: Programming is very much a balancing act — presenting all-time favorites while including enough new or less known music to keep it interesting — for both audience and orchestra. I think it is good with some occasional bold moves, such as new commissioned works, partly because it creates a historical perspective that can make us feel differently about the “old” works. And, yes, we enjoyed very much learning and premiering Adrienne Elisha’s overture!

Q: One of the things people have been talking about is Evelyn Chen’s spellbinding performance in Grieg’s Piano Concerto. Kristin Wolfe Jensen, a professor at the University of Texas, also gave a lively performance of Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in an earlier concert. Is an overactive imagination at work here, or is the orchestra performing more concertos?

A: Yes, you are correct in that we are consistently featuring a major soloist at all our masterworks programs. We are excited to be able to hire these excellent players. In addition to their audience appeal, they also serve as an important source of inspiration for the orchestra and me — helping us improve and grow both technically and artistically. We did actually have one more terrific soloist lined up: the concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony was scheduled to perform Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in February, but his orchestra schedule changed just before we were about to print our season program. We hope to see him — and many other great soloists — next season.

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