Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra Announces Expanded '08-'09 Season With Della Reese, Tokoyo Oratorio Society and More


Della Reese
Della Reese

The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra (NFSO) at Okaloosa-Walton College, under the baton of Jeffrey Rink, announces its 2008-09 concert season and the availability of season tickets. The expanded new season of the NFSO will include seven concerts and will feature beloved masterpieces, international guest artists from Japan, a Pops concert with Grammy-nominated vocalist and screen star Della Reese, collaborative performances with the Northwest Florida Symphony Chorus and more.

Rink noted that the addition of two more concerts to the NFSO season is especially exciting as he enters his second season leading the NFSO as conductor and as the professional orchestra begins its 22nd performance year in the region. Among the highlights of the expanded season, Rink said, "The concert with the prestigious Tokyo Oratorio Society in conjunction with the Northwest Florida Symphony Chorus and a trio of excellent soloists will be a fantastic visual, sonic and musical experience. Over two hundred instrumentalists and vocalists will join together to perform Haydn's beautiful oratorio The Creation in English." He noted that the NFSO Goes Pops concert on March 14, 2009 with legendary performer Della Reese will be a fundraiser to benefit the symphony's year-round programs and will include the opportunity to purchase front row seats and attend an exclusive post concert reception with Reese.

"Other upcoming NFSO concerts include the season opener with the Gold Medal winner of the national Wideman Piano Competition; a Night at the Opera featuring arias, ensembles, choruses and symphonic works from the world of opera; and a first ever collaboration with the OWC Dance program for a chamber orchestra event," said Rink, who noted that the orchestra will also perform its normal Holiday Pops and Stars of Tomorrow concerts as well. Season tickets for a series of six NFSO concerts are now available for $120, a more than ten percent savings over single ticket prices. Those who purchase season tickets also have the first opportunity to purchase tickets to the Pops Concert with Della Reese, which is not part of the NFSO season package. Tickets for the fundraiser "NFSO Goes Pops" event with Della Reese are $45 each, with a special section of limited front-row seats available for $100 each which include an exclusive post-concert reception with Reese. NFSO season tickets are available now for purchase in-person or by phone from the OWC Mattie Kelly Arts Center Box office at (850) 729-6000 or online at

In addition to adding more concerts to its performance season, the NFSO has also expanded benefits for all Season Subscribers to include a new Season Subscriber membership card, pre-concert talks with Jeffrey Rink and guest artists, a season opening reception, the first opportunity to select reserved seats, and more. "The new Season Subscriber card will serve as the 'admittance ticket' to our new pre-concert talks, receptions and other events that will be exclusively open to our season patrons," said Rink. "In addition to the regular season subscriber discount over regular ticket prices and first selection of reserved seating for subscribers, we decided to thank our season patrons with exciting new benefits that will truly enhance their concert experience throughout the year."

Rink said that in addition to expanded benefits for regular season subscribers, the NFSO has also added a new subscriber category - the Conductor's Circle that is open to the first 80 season subscribers who also make a tax-deductible gift of $250 or more to the NFSO when they purchase their season tickets. Conductors Circle members will receive all the benefits of the season subscriber plus an exclusive reserved parking section at the OWC arts center for each NFSO concert and complimentary wine at all pre-concert talks. "We've already had quite a few folks join the Conductor's Circle by making an additional tax-deductible gift to support the symphony. I really think they love the idea of reserved parking as that has never been done before at the center," said Rink. "The Conductor's Circle membership is limited, so I encourage interested friends of the NFSO to participate as soon as possible." Rink said season subscriptions, contributed income and corporate underwriting are the foundation of the orchestra's varied endeavors, including educational programs for area youth. For information on various levels of underwriting for the Symphony, please contact Carla Reinlie at the OWC Foundation at 729-6468.

At the NFSO season opening concert, "Good as Gold" on September 27, guest artist pianist Janice Ingrid Fehlauer, the 2007 Gold Medal Winner of the prestigious Wideman Piano Competition, will perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 with the NFSO. The Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 is known as the "Emperor Concerto" and was Beethoven's last piano concerto. The powerful themes and heroic note of the composition lead to the name Emperor for this concerto. The opening concert of the NFSO season will also feature Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D major.

"A Night at the Opera", the NFSO's second concert event of the season on November 1, will feature the Northwest Florida Symphony Chorus under the direction of Lois Van Dam in an evening of arias, duets, and symphonic selections from classic operas. On December 12, join the NFSO as the orchestra and the Northwest Florida Symphony Chorus present "Holiday Pops!" an evening filled with popular holiday fare. In 2009, the NFSO collaborates with the OWC dance program to present "Symphonic Miniatures" on January 30, a chamber orchestra program that will feature Strauss' Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite, Handel's Concerto Grosso in B flat, Op. 3 No. 2, and Mozart's Serenade in C minor set to dance choreographed by OWC dance faculty. The "Stars of Tomorrow" concert on February 20, 2009 features winners of the prestigious regional Concerto Competition and performance of Britten's Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra. The "NFSO Goes Pops: an Evening with Della Reese" on March 14, 2009 features singer, actress, and author Della Reese. With a stellar career that spans more than sixty years, Della Reese is truly an icon and will perform with the orchestra as well as with her own ensemble.

The NFSO season concludes on May 9, 2009 with Haydn's "The Creation". This stunning concert features the Northwest Florida Symphony Chorus and guest soloists Jane Redding, Adam Kirkpatrick, and Robert Honeysucker. Also featured is the Tokyo Oratorio Society direct from Japan and conducted by Hiroshi Gunji. The Tokyo Oratorio Society was founded in 1983 by Gunji to study and perform classical sacred music, especially Oratorio works. The more than 70-member choir has made over sixty international concert tours, including to Germany, Austria, Ireland, Korea, U.S.A., Norway and Israel and has sung under the baton of renowned conductors worldwide.

Season tickets are available through the Box Office and may be purchased by phone, mail, in-person, or online at Only season package and tickets to the Della Reese concert for season subscribers are now available. Individual tickets for all performances dates of the NFSO, including the Pops Concert with Reese will not be available until September. The Mattie Kelly Arts Center is located on the Niceville campus of Okaloosa-Walton College at 100 College Boulevard and is easily accessible via U.S. Highway 285, Highway 85 and the Mid-Bay Bridge.

Prior to joining the NFSO in July 2007, Maestro Rink served concurrently as the Music Director of Chorus pro Musica in Boston, Massachusetts and the Newton Symphony Orchestra, Director of Orchestral Activities at the Longy School of Music, where he conducted the Longy Chamber Orchestra, and was on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He was previously conductor of the New England Philharmonic for eight years in which he won four ASCAP awards for adventuresome programming and commitment to new music.

The talented professional musicians who perform with the NFSO come from across the greater panhandle region and many of the symphony's guest artists have an international reputation. The orchestra has performed continuously each season since 1987, providing cultural programs to thousands of area residents in its 20+ year history.

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