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14 May 2007

Music at McClellan Concert Series
Opening Concert - May 26
"Maestro's Choice"

Featuring Maestro Justin Brown

An outdoor concert series surrounded by friends, great food, historic preservation, and the beautiful Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge

The former Fort McClellan will once again come to life with the signs and sounds of noted musicians and our own Alabama Symphony Orchestra (ASO)! The 2007 concert season will feature Saturday concerts of the ASO performing classical and light “Pop” favorites under the stars in a beautiful, outdoor setting. Hear the best music that Alabama has to offer and make memories by enjoying this family friendly and festive atmosphere.

Opening Concert - May 26, 2007
Maestro Justin Brown
Alabama Symphony Orchestra
Music Director and Principal Conductor
The Elton B. Stephens Chair

Date:     Saturday - May 26, 2007 

Where:  The Longleaf Park (also known as Duck Pond Park) at the former Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama. Plan to relax on the grass with a picnic that you've ordered ahead or packed at home. Bring a chair or blanket and of course – bring friends!

Time:     Grounds open at 6:00 p.m., and concerts start at 8:00 p.m. at Longleaf Park, McClellan. or e-mail

Fee:      Tickets can be purchased on campus at the TMB bookstore.

Maestro Justin Brown

Maestro Justin Brown now leads the Alabama Symphony Orchestra as the Elton B. Stephens Music Director and Principal Conductor beginning with the 2006-2007 Season. Brown comes to this appointment having established a reputation of artistic acclaim.

Born and raised in Sussex and London, Brown was playing the piano and violin by the time he was ten. After graduating from Cambridge University, Brown studied at the Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts with Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein. His conducting debut was the British premier of Bernstein’s Mass.

Since then, he has conducted nearly all of Britain’s top orchestras, and he has performed and conducted across the world—everywhere from Helsinki to Tokyo to Sydney. The Swedish press complimented his skill as a piano soloist, calling him “one of the most sensitive and emotionally rich chamber musicians in recent years.” Despite all his travels,

Operatically, Justin Brown’s performances of Fidelio at Lisbon’s Teatro San Carlo, La Traviata and The Love for Three Oranges in Stuttgart, Don Giovanni in Frankfurt, Il Turco in Italia in Nantes and Carmen, La Traviata and Un Ballo in Maschera at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo have brought him great success.

Brown says that his new job in the States still brings a welcome challenge.

“What I love about the U.S. system, as I see it, is that the community feels a responsibility to its artists and art institutions; and in return we feel a much greater responsibility to the community than is the case in Europe. So here, you have a sense of connectedness, a clear sense of the value of what you’re doing, and I believe that helps us as musicians to give our best.”

He performs regularly now as both soloist and conductor in Mozart and Beethoven concertos, including the Beethoven Triple Concerto, and will direct more concerto performances in coming seasons. ASO audiences will have several opportunities to witness Maestro Brown at the piano during concert performances.

As the new music director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Brown has plans for new material, new concert venues, and new audiences.

“I start from a very simple notion: music is for everybody,” Brown says. “It’s wrong to assume that people don’t listen to classical music because it’s too difficult for them. If they don’t listen, it’s because it hasn’t been presented to them in a good way. I don’t want to pretend that the music we play is always easy to listen to or grasp the meaning of, but that’s true of any art that has value. People are always looking for value and meaning in their lives, and I believe that music—orchestral music, choral music, chamber music, opera—can play a vital role in helping them find that.”

Among Brown’s many plans for the ASO is a three-year project performing all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies, symphonies that Brown calls “incomparable” in their genius.

“For an orchestra, Beethoven is the pinnacle. . . . Beethoven achieved that seemingly paradoxical goal of creating music which is at the same time profoundly serious and intellectual and yet immediately accessible to anyone who hears it.”

The Beethoven project speaks to Brown’s conviction of cohesion not just for a singular evening’s program, but for the orchestra’s entire season.

“I think the essential point about the symphonic form—certainly from Beethoven onwards—is that it tells a narrative, it takes us on a journey; and at the end of it we’re not quite the same as we were when we started out. In that way, the symphony reflects our experience of life, of destiny. To me, symphonic music is dramatic music, and a symphony concert should be a single, almost theatrical experience. So I try hard to construct programs in such a way that each concert feels like a satisfying whole.”

Brown also has strong convictions about finding new and unique venues for the orchestra to play in. He likes the idea of juxtaposing familiar music with unfamiliar surroundings. In addition to its regular venues across the state, including its summer concerts in Birmingham’s Caldwell Park and Anniston’s McClellan, the ASO will play an entire series of concerts at new locations in Shelby County. Brown also has a desire to perform in more area churches.

Another important theme for Brown is his desire to see all of Birmingham’s arts institutions work together as one community, and to encourage more and more people to feel they can be a part of the cultural life of the city.

“We need to show that what we do is relevant to everyone’s lives.”

Brown envisions the idea of mini-festivals around a particular theme, and involving as much of the arts community as possible. One such festival, already being discussed with the Civil Rights Institute, would entail an exploration into the city’s Civil Rights history, which Brown acknowledges as a crucial part of the city’s roots. But with all the possibilities and challenges that lie ahead, Brown’s vision for the ASO will always be ultimately personal.

“I’m only going to program music that I personally care about and believe in.” “What I love about the U.S. system, as I see it, is that the community feels a responsibility to its artists and art institutions; and in return we [artists] feel a much greater responsibility to the community than is the case in Europe.”

Jacksonville State University is a primary sponsor of this event and encourages participation.

Please go to the exciting new web site to hear the orchestra and learn more about this nationally acclaimed outdoor concert series. Check the Concerts page for details.

May 26th - Maestro's Choice
                  with Maestro Justin Brown

June 2nd - The Orchestra Strikes Back
                Star Wars 30th Anniversary

June 9th - Bravo Broadway
                  featuring Susan Egan & Sal Viviano

June 16th - Classics Under The Stars
                  with the 1812 overture cannons


 For more information contact Pete Conroy by calling 782-8010 or e-mail

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