Asheville Symphony Announces 2023-2024 Season

Free Symphony in the Park Concert takes place Sunday, August 27.

Symphony in the Park Concert
The Symphony in the Park concert takes place in Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville. Photo: Mike Morel

The 23-24 season will be the first to take place outside the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium since 1975, and will feature seven Asheville Symphony premiers, Star Wars, and more.

The Asheville Symphony kicks off its 2023-2024 season on Sunday, August 27, 2023 at 7 p.m. with the third annual Symphony in the Park concert in downtown Asheville’s Pack Square Park.

The entire community is invited to this free event, and each year over 7,000 people from across Western North Carolina join to enjoy this popular concert. Led by Asheville Symphony Music Director Darko Butorac, the 2023 Symphony in the Park concert features selections from classic movie scores by Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, James Horner, and more.

Symphony in the Park kicks off a season that is set to be like none other. For the first time since 1975, the Asheville Symphony will be performing all shows outside the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. This move was necessary due to the recent failure of the HVAC system at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium that affects the ability to heat or cool the house of the auditorium for the foreseeable future.

Even with the relocation of 10 symphony shows, the 2023-2024 season is set to be one of the Asheville Symphony’s most ambitious to date, featuring a seven-concert Masterworks series which now includes matinee and evening performances. The four-concert ALT ASO series features everything from rock to klezmer to music of the 80s. The series will include a Star Wars concert held in conjunction with Beer City Comic Con, a soulful New Year’s Eve show, a world-class piano recital, and the debut of the new Asheville Symphony Artist Residency.

“We are excited to continue the growth and expansion of the Asheville Symphony, even in light of losing the space that has been our home for nearly five decades,” said Asheville Symphony Executive Director Daniel Crupi. “Last season saw our first-ever award from the National Endowment for the Arts—one of the highest marks of excellence in the country.

“We worked to defy expectations, presenting an operatic-themed Masterworks concert; strong representation from contemporary composers; a bluegrass-themed Amadeus Festival; and significant experimentation on the ALT ASO series, which featured everything from the music of Kishi Bashi to a hybrid Balkan Brass-New Orleans Jazz Band.”

Crupi says that the success of the previous season has poised the Asheville Symphony to build upon that growth and plan for exciting and unique offerings across western North Carolina.

The Masterworks Series premieres on Saturday, September 23 with, “Masterworks 1: Out of the Shadows,” at the First Baptist Church of Asheville, with both matinee and evening performances. This show features cellist Sterling Elliott, the winner of the Senior Division of the 2019 National Sphinx Competition, a national competition that supports Black and Latinx strings musicians who are early in their careers.

The 2023-2024 Masterworks Series includes seven Asheville Symphony premieres, including one newly commissioned work. The season will feature Jennifer Higdon, William L. Dawson, and Ukraine’s Valentin Silvestrov alongside favorites by Johannes Brahms, Aaron Copland, Gustav Mahler, and more.

Season soloists include violinist Blake Pouliot, Olga Kern on piano, and others. “Masterworks 3: American Portraits” will feature narrator and vocalist Bryan Terrell Clark, who has performed major roles in successful Broadway shows including as George Washington in Hamilton and as Marvin Gaye in Motown: The Musical.

The Asheville Symphony will expand programming with a new pops concert on the outdoor stage at Salvage Station on Sunday, October 1. “Star Wars: Celebrating a Galaxy of Music” is presented in collaboration with Beer City Comic Con and will feature a selection of John Williams’ iconic music from Star Wars.

New Year’s Eve will feature a tribute to Soul and R&B with the legendary Capathia Jenkins, who is known for her performances on and off Broadway including The Civil War, Godspell, The Look of Love, and shows including 30 Rock, The Sopranos, Law & Order, and more.

The Symphony’s popular ALT ASO series takes the orchestra on the road to unique locations throughout Asheville. In the 2023-24 season it will continue its genre-bending streak, featuring music of the 1980s at Highland Brewing, rock and heavy metal at The Orange Peel, folk and klezmer at the Asheville Masonic Temple, and immersive projection art at the Mule at Devil’s Foot Beverage Co.

In the spring, the Asheville Symphony plans to launch the new Asheville Symphony Artist Residency, which will celebrate one instrument and explore its impact on the musical world, held in collaboration with a world-renowned artist. The inaugural year will explore the global legacy of the violin and feature Asheville native Noah Bendix-Balgley, First Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic.

“Featuring Brahms, Copland, and Mahler alongside heavy metal, folk, and klezmer, and representing everything from Star Wars to Soul to immersive projection art—not to mention 10 relocated programs and a brand-new artist residency program—this year is going to be truly wild,” said Crupi. “Our goal is to make the Asheville Symphony resonate with everyone in our community. Our 2023-2024 season takes us one step closer to that goal.”

To view the full season lineup and concert programs, visit www.AshevilleSymphony.org. Tickets can be purchased online at www.AshevilleSymphony.org, by phone at (828) 254-7046, or in person at the Asheville Symphony office at 27 College Pl., Suite 100.