This time of year, one is hard-pressed to see beyond the sweltering haze of summer, but if you peer hard enough through the heat waves, you can make out the cool, refreshing 2004-2005 seasons of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Austin. The ballet is offering five full productions, plus the return of its kid-oriented collaboration with Joe Scruggs, Not Afraid of the Dark, while the symphony is packing in eight classical concerts, four pops concerts, two family events, and a variety of free and holiday shows.
ASO launches its season with a bang, in the form of star violinist Pinchas Zukerman and his wife, cellist Amanda Forsyth, after which hometown violin prodigy Caitlin Tully makes a welcome return appearance with the symphony. Rounding out the fall is a pair of pianists, Christina Marton and Benjamin Pasternack, and the spring brings another celebrated performer, pianist Peter Serkin, pianist Hsing-ay Hsu, violinist David Brickman who will join Chorus Austin in helping the symphony perform Beethoven's grand Symphony No. 9 and, to close the season, the man who made Round Top an international destination for lovers of classical music, pianist James Dick. Next season's Sarah & Ernest Butler Pops Series has a decidedly Western tilt or swing, as in the case of Asleep at the Wheel with Ray Benson, who open the series at Riverbend Centre in September. They're followed by B.J. Thomas, Glen Campbell, and Pink Martini, the Portland, Ore., ensemble that fuses chamber and world music. Also of note is the spring family concert, which features Central Texas songbirds Kelly Willis and Sarah Hickman. For more information, call 476-6064 or 888/4-MAESTRO.
After its back-to-school reprise of the family-friendly Not Afraid of the Dark, the ballet says "Come fly with me." It's back to Neverland with Peter Pan, a remounting of the charming 2002 adaptation of J.M. Barrie's classic, choreographed by Washington Ballet's Septime Webre to the music of Carmon DeLeone. Then it's the holidays, which, of course, means The Nutcracker, with BA Artistic Director Stephen Mills choreographing the company's 42nd annual production. The ballet will return to the Paramount Theatre next February for another round of Director's Choice, with edgy, imaginative works from Thaddeus Davis, Gina Patterson, and Stephen Mills. That's followed by the world premiere of Light/The Humanity Project, an ambitious and personal work for Mills, a reflection on human resilience and transcendence that's being produced in collaboration with the Holocaust Museum Houston, the Warren Family Foundation's Teaching Fellowship, and scholars from UT-Austin's College of Education. The season winds up in May with a new version of the old favorite Swan Lake, updated and set in New York's high society of 1912. For more information, call 476-2163 or visit www.balletaustin.org.
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