Four seasons in one day? That’s nothing for the Olympia Symphony Orchestra, which Sunday will open an entire season full of — well — seasons. Five concerts in October, November, February, March and April will take the audience through the end of summer, darkening autumn, frozen winter, boisterous spring and a new cheerful summer, with composers from Brahms (winter) to Butterworth (fall) and local soloists such as the Olympia Youth Chorus and Tacoma violinist Svend Rønning.
“It’s my 14th year, and I’m running out of catchy concert ideas,” jokes director Huw Edwards. “No, seriously, if you name a concert something like ‘Romantic Fusion,’ it sounds more like a teabag at Starbucks.”
So why seasons?
“I’ve lived in places where there are only two seasons,” says the conductor, who’s originally from Britain. “Like Dallas: hot summer or chilly spring. Or Chicago: deep winter or humid summer. Here we have all four seasons.”
The first season comes this Sunday with “Summer Departs,” featuring music that definitely feels the daylight fading. Opening will be Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” March no. 4, with a noble lyricism that laments the passing of England’s golden age. Beethoven’s Symphony no. 2, written during Napoleon’s occupation of Vienna, is also dark, beginning with thundering chords and breaking away from traditional classicism with dissonance and hyperactive movement. Girls from the Olympia Youth Chorus will give a moment of light with John Duggan’s ethereal setting of a medieval hymn by Hildegard of Bingen, but the shadows return with Debussy’s three “Nocturnes,” describing the muted moodiness of night.
The rest of the season follows the seasons. In November there will be a reflective autumn program of Schubert’s “Unfinished” symphony; songs by Purcell, Gershwin and more by Seattle mezzo Cheryse McLeod Lewis; and Richard Strauss’ introspective “Death and Transfiguration.”
Winter follows in February with Brahms’ dark Symphony no. 1 and Sibelius’ Violin Concerto no. 1, with icy harmonies and tumultuous emotions. Tacoma Symphony concertmaster Svend Rønning is soloist.
“I heard Svend play the Sibelius years ago at Pacific Lutheran University, but he’s always been busy until now,” says Edwards.
Then comes spring in March, “boisterous and happy,” says Edwards, with an all-strings program featuring Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, a Finzi clarinet concerto (soloist David Hattner) and more. Finally summer returns in April, with youth soloist Ben Hodson of Olympia High School playing the joyful Haydn Trumpet Concerto, plus music by Rossini, Mendelssohn and Dvoràk.
In addition to its youth soloist, the Olympia Symphony annually sponsors a youth scholar who plays in every concert and receives a grant toward their college costs.
The November concert will include a new matinee time to offset shorter daylight hours and worse weather.
Who: Olympia Symphony Orchestra, directed by Huw Edwards, with Olympia Youth Chorus girls.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Washington Center for Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia.
Information: 360-753-0074, olympiasymphony.com.