The kickoff concert for the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra season will deliver a blend of the expected and the unexpected, according to conductor Stephen Gunzenhauser.
“Classical Inspiration,” set for Saturday, Sept. 12, and Sunday, Sept. 13, includes Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 and Prokofiev’s “Classical Symphony.” It also offers Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variations,” an elegant work evoking Russia in the age of the czars.
Written for the cello, the latter piece features the symphony’s principal cellist, Lukasz Szyrner.
“He is brilliant, and this gives us the opportunity to showcase him,” Gunzenhauser says.
That’s the expected; now for the unexpected:
The opening concert includes something sweet — literally.
“Chocolats Symponiques,” by Canadian composer Maxime Goulet, features four movements.
“Each movement is connected with a type of chocolate,” Gunzenhauser says, and each movement is just over two minutes long. “The first is caramel chocolate, then dark chocolate, then icy mint, and the fourth is espresso.”
To make full connection with this music, audience members will receive four pieces of Miesse candy to eat during the performance.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Gunzenhauser says. “They can eat a piece of chocolate while listening to a piece of music. We thought, ... ‘How can we do a chocolate symphony in Lancaster without having samples of chocolate for the audience?’ ”
Not only is this approach unique to a classical concert, he says, but the composer himself is unique to the genre.
“He is not a traditional classical composer,” Gunzenhauser says, of Goulet. “He’s known for doing music for videogames.”
In fact, Goulet has scored more than 25 games, including “Shrek Forever After,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Iron Man 2.”
Fun is the goal
Gunzenhauser says audiences should expect a fun time when they come to the symphony’s kickoff concert, and that’s his goal for the entire season.
“I want to make coming to the symphony an entertaining afternoon or evening for everyone,” he says. “I want it to be an interesting experience, where they’re going to leave and say, ‘Wow, that was incredible.’ ”
Gunzenhauser acknowledges that “symphony orchestras get kind of a bad rap. They’re always guilty of doing the same thing: dressing up in tails and putting on a certain type of performance. I wouldn’t say it’s something that all people would associate with a very entertaining evening.”
He’s eager to change the perception.
Gunzenhauser says he has focused this season on providing a wide range of music that will appeal to a variety of audiences, giving them something for the time and money they invest in the concerts.
“When people come to a concert by Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, we want them to leave excited,” Gunzenhauser says. “We want them to say to their friends, ‘If you didn’t hear that concert last night, you missed out.’ ”