By Kristi Casey Sanders
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is the only U.S. orchestra to simultaneously perform and operate in two major amphitheatres: the 6,500-seat Chastain Park Amphitheater and the new 7,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta’s Encore Park for the Arts.
The Verizon Wireless Amphitheater officially opened May 10 with Music Director Robert Spano leading the ASO in a program of Bernstein’s Candide Overture and Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Special guests included the Marcus Roberts Trio, performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue; soprano Christine Brewer, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop, tenor Vinson Cole, baritone Gordon Hawkins and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus singing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy;” and 320 young marching band musicians from Alpharetta and Milton high schools, who joined the Orchestra in the show finale: Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
Other ASO concerts scheduled for the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park include programs focusing on Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, a “romantic” program featuring Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff, an all-American July 4 celebration, a concert with the legendary Julie Andrews, and a Telarc CD release party/ASO concert of Puccini’s La bohème. On Aug. 16, Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies will host a special cinematic ASO program combining film clips and music from movies such as Gone With the Wind, Dr. Zhivago and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The amphitheater also will be a gathering place for community events, such as high school graduations and rock concerts by artists such as the Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Rod Stewart. And on Aug. 14, ASO Assistant Conductor and League of American Orchestras Conducting Fellow Mei-Ann Chen will lead a free ASO Connects performance.
The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation supported the construction of the amphitheatre at Encore Park with a $5 million grant; two $1 million grants came from the City of Alpharetta and the Fulton County Arts Council. Phase two development of Encore Park is expected to add a performing and visual art complex, and an education center.
Single tickets for ASO concerts are available at Ticketmaster outlets (including Publix Super Markets), online at Ticketmaster.com and over the phone at 404-249-6400. Covered, reserved seating and general admission lawn seating are available. For updated schedules and information, visit vzwamp.com.