The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra (WSO) announces its 2023-2024 season, titled Music at Play. The season centers around the six-concert Capitol Series, consisting of three Masterworks concerts and three Pops concerts. Designed to appeal to a broad audience, Masterworks performances center on classical repertoire while Pops concerts feature music that’s recognizable even to those who do not regularly listen to classical music. In addition to the Capitol Series is the Community Concert series, which provides free concerts in local outdoor settings. In addition to these two concert series are two special-event concerts: the Opening Night Concert and Celebration featuring Broadway star Sutton Foster and the WSO holiday tradition Symphony on Ice.
Music at Play will continue the WSO’s mission of highlighting living American composers and experimenting with concert formats. The season will feature selections by American composers such as Clarice Assad, Kevin Puts, and Michael Ellis Ingram, as well as a new work by composer Arlene Sierra. This piece, titled Kiskadee, was commissioned for the WSO thanks to funding from the League of American Orchestras’ Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Orchestral Commissions Program; the WSO will premiere the piece on May 10 during the Contact performance.
“This season embodies everything we are about here at the Wheeling Symphony,” says WSO Music Director John Devlin. “Throughout the year, we will feature great American music and artists; a world-premiere on each of our Masterworks concerts; stories that relate to our community and to our state; the fantastic WSO musicians as soloists and programmers; and a Pops series that will bring beloved memories to life. Each concert has been carefully designed with our patrons in mind, and I cannot wait to begin our season in the Capitol on September 29th with the incomparable Sutton Foster!”
The season will begin with the Opening Night Concert and Celebration on September 29, featuring Broadway star Sutton Foster. Foster, a Tony Award–winning actress, singer, and dancer, is perhaps best known for her starring roles in Broadway shows like Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Music Man, Anything Goes, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Young Frankenstein. Foster’s performance with the WSO will include Broadway selections alongside stories and other surprises. As part of the kickoff celebration, before the concert the WSO will host a pre-concert celebration in the Capitol Theatre Ballroom with heavy hors d’oeuvres and beverages.
On October 19, the Masterworks series will begin with Violins of Hope, a performance that will explore the intersections of music, trauma, history, and hope. Violins of Hope is a national organization that displays restored violins and other instruments that were played by concentration camp prisoners during the Holocaust. In addition to displaying these instruments before the performance, several WSO musicians will perform on these historic artifacts during the evening’s performance, which will highlight Jewish artists as performers and composers. In the weeks leading up to the performance, the WSO will host a Festival of Ideas, a series of panels, lectures, and other events designed to enhance concertgoers’ experience and understanding of the performance. Selections on the Violins of Hope concert include Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony no. 3 in A minor, Pastoral Variée by Paul Ben-Haim, and the newly discovered Piano Concerto no. 2 in A minor by Walter Bricht.
On November 30, the WSO will continue their holiday tradition, Symphony on Ice, at WesBanco Arena. This special event brings together the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra with several local middle and high school choirs, local figure skating clubs, and Olympic-level professional skaters.
The WSO will begin their Pops performance on January 20 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: In Concert, a film-with-live-orchestra event. The WSO will perform John Williams’ score live alongside an HD screening of the first film in the beloved Harry Potter franchise. Harry Potter themed décor and activities will be available in the Capitol Theatre prior to the concert.
The following month on February 16, Renée Elise Goldsberry, star of the international phenomenon Hamilton, will perform for the WSO’s second Pops performance. A Tony award-winning actress, Goldsberry is best known for originating the role of Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton. Goldsberry’s other Broadway credits include Rent and The Color Purple, and she currently stars in the Tina Fey comedy Girls5eva and Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Goldsberry’s performance will include genres like soul, gospel, folk, and pop in addition to Broadway selections.
On March 8, the WSO will welcome back composer/performer Clarice Assad for Music at Play, the second Masterworks concert of the season. For this performance, Assad—who performed with the WSO during Forces of Nature this past March—will perform one of her new compositions alongside the WSO and guest artists Third Coast Percussion. Titled “Play,” this piece will feature children’s toys as instruments and is inspired in large part by Clarice’s two small children. In addition, this concert will include performances of Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Ballade in A minor by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
The WSO will end its Pops season with Sinatra and Beyond, featuring guest vocalist Tony DeSare, on April 26. DeSare and the WSO will perform a selection of Sinatra favorites, like “New York, New York” and “Come Fly with Me,” as well as other numbers from the Rat Pack days.
Finally, Music at Play will end on a celebratory note with CONTACT on May 10, featuring the critically acclaimed string trio Time for Three. Time for Three will perform Kevin Puts’ Contact—the piece that won the 2023 GRAMMY for Best Classical Composition. In addition, this concert will feature Brahms’ Third Symphony, the “musicians’ choice” piece for the season, as well as Arlene Sierra’s Kiskadee.
As for the Community Concert series, the WSO recently took their Celebrate America! tour on the road, providing free July 4 concerts to communities in Weirton, Canaan Valley, Clarksburg, and Wheeling. The next Community Concert is the annual Music Under the Stars concert, held on Labor Day weekend at Oglebay Park. This year, the theme for Music Under the Stars is “Shaken, Not Stirred”: the Music of James Bond. WSO favorites Jeans ‘n Classics and soloists Gavin Hope and Rique Franks will join the WSO on September 3 at the Anne Kuchinka amphitheater for this free performance.
Single ticket sales for the Opening Night Concert and Celebration featuring Sutton Foster will begin on August 15.
Subscription packages to the six-concert Capitol Series, the three-concert Pops series, and the three-concert Masterworks are on sale now, with single tickets becoming available September 1.
“This is an exciting time for the WSO,” says WSO Executive Director Sonja Thoms. “In the coming season, we offer such a wide variety of programming that everyone should be able to find a concert that excites them. I look forward to seeing the Capitol Theatre filled with fans of live orchestral music!”
Subscriptions for the WSO 2023-2024 season, Music at Play, are on sale now. To reserve your subscription, reach out to the WSO box office at 304-232-6191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets for the Opening Night Celebration featuring Sutton Foster go on sale August 15. The concert begins at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 29, 2023. Tickets will be available via the WSO website or by contacting the WSO box office by phone at 304-232-6191, email at email@example.com, or in person at the WSO Box Office, located at 1025 Main Street, Suite 811, Wheeling, WV 26003.
Single tickets for the ’23-’24 season go on sale September 1.