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11-25-09 Athens Symphony announces launch of food drive in conjunction with 2009 Christmas concerts

Symphony Partnering with the Salvation Army to Feed Hungry Georgians-Christmas Concerts to be Presented December 12 and 13- Concerts to Feature Selections from Handelís Messiah

Athens symphony Launches food drive at its 2009 christmas concerts

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Symphony Partnering with the Salvation Army to Feed Hungry Georgians

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Christmas Concerts to be Presented December 12 and 13

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Concerts to Feature Selections from Handel’s Messiah

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ATHENS, Ga., November 24, 2009 — The Athens Symphony will present its annual Christmas concerts featuring the Athens Symphony Chorus Saturday, December 12 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 13 at 3:00 p.m. at the Classic Center in Athens. This year, the symphony is partnering with the Salvation Army in collecting canned and other non-perishable foods to help feed Northeast Georgia families.

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In addition to selections from Handel’s Messiah, the concerts will include J.S. Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria; Dream Pantomime from “Hansel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck; and a variety of Christmas carols and medleys. As a grand finale, Conductor Albert F. Ligotti will lead the orchestra, chorus and audience in a sing along of holiday favorites.

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“The Christmas concerts have become a tradition of holiday celebration for many Athens families,” said Ligotti. “I’m hopeful that the spirit of joy that we share through this music will be further shared through our drive for the Salvation Army.”

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Symphony’s New Movement

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The Athens Symphony is partnering with the Salvation Army to collect non-perishable food items for families in need this holiday season across Northeast Georgia. Audience members are encouraged to bring canned or boxed goods with them to the Classic Center to donate to the drive.

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“We really wanted to give back to the community that has supported us for the last 32 years,” said Dr. Dick Hudson, president of the Athens Symphony. “We know that the need for these goods is particularly acute this year, and we’re proud to offer our audience an opportunity to get involved.”

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Collection boxes will be placed outside the Classic Center all day December 12 and December 13. Audience members may drop off donations on their way to the concert, or any area residents who wish to contribute may drop items off with no concert ticket necessary. All goods collected will be donated to the

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A Most Wonderful Christmas

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The programming for 2009’s Christmas concerts includes a variety of traditional and contemporary seasonal selections. “Just about everyone’s favorite is bound to be represented,” noted Ligotti. As in years past, selections from Handel’s Messiah will be featured, including the Overture, the Pastoral Symphony, and the majestic Hallelujah Chorus presented with the Athens Symphony Chorus.

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The Hallelujah Chorus concludes Part Two of Handel’s most famous oratorio, describing the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. After composing this section, Handel is said to have exclaimed, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!” Upon hearing one of the earliest performances of the Hallelujah Chorus, King George II spontaneously rose to his feet in a spirit of exaltation—a tradition repeated by audiences to this day.

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Johann Sebastian Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria, both devotional pieces characterized by their simple but universally stirring melodies, have become not only a staple of Christmas celebrations, but also familiar and beloved pieces in traditional wedding literature. The Dream Pantomime from “Hansel and Gretel” by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck is an all-orchestral movement from a full opera based on the fairy tell by the Brothers Grimm.

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Following the intermission, the Christmas Concerts’ program moves from inspirational classical selections to contemporary Christmas pops selections and carols to include Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Good King Wenceslas, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, The First Noel, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, O Come, All Ye Faithful, White Christmas and many more.

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At the concert’s close, the audience will join the Athens Symphony Chorus in a Christmas carol sing along, forming a chorus of up to 2,000 voices in the hall of the Classic Center Theatre.

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Admission to the Christmas concerts is free but tickets are required for entry, and will be available for pick up at the Classic Center Theatre Box Office beginning Monday, November 30 at 10:00 a.m.

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The Christmas concerts feature the Athens Symphony Chorus, a group of volunteer singers including seasoned choir singers, enthusiastic amateur singers and former and current professional singers. Membership to the chorus is open to any adults over the age of 18 with the ability to read music. Anyone interested in joining rehearsals for the Pops concerts this Spring may find more information at www.athenssymphony.org or on the Athens Symphony Orchestra page on Facebook.

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About the Athens Symphony

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The Athens Symphony was founded in the summer of 1978, when a group of local musicians convened following a survey by the Clarke County Office of Cultural Affairs that determined a strong desire within the community for a symphony orchestra. Early on, it was decided that the orchestra should be a not-for-profit organization, that its members should be unpaid volunteers from Athens and the surrounding communities, and that its concerts should be both free of charge and appealing to general audiences. Al Ligotti was immediately identified as the ideal conductor due to his wealth of musical experience, enthusiasm and high musicianship, and continues to lead the orchestra as it embarks on its 32nd season.

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The non-profit organization operates through the generosity of private donors and the support of its sponsors: Athens Area Health Plan Select; Athens Banner-Herald; Athens First Bank & Trust Company; AT&T; Blasingame, Burch Garrard, Ashley, P.C. Attorneys at Law; Chick Music; The Classic Center; Georgia Power; Jackson Spalding and WGAU 1340 am.


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