150 years of music; Worcester Music Festival lineup packed with notable talent.


Byline: Richard Duckett

The Worcester Music Festival is the country's longest continuous festival of its kind, but the 150th season, overseen by Music Worcester Inc., will see some firsts and surprises as well as high-level recognition when it gets under way Oct. 16 with a performance and world premiere by the Orquestra de Sao Paulo in Mechanics Hall.

All in all there should be plenty to sing about as well as serenade and dance. Singing, in the form of the Worcester Chorus, is a tradition as venerable as the festival. The chorus was formed to sing in the first annual Worcester Music Festival in the newly built Mechanics Hall in 1858. And the chorus will be prominently featured in an ambitious season of four performances led by its new artistic director, Christopher Shepard. Also, fully staged opera will be part of the lineup for what may be the first time as the world tour of Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" comes to the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in March.

Internationally renowned orchestras continue to be an important part of the Music Worcester programming, beginning with the Orquestra de Sao Paulo. Chamber music, world music and jazz will get plenty of attention as Music Worcester also presents the 31st International Artists Series and the 15th Mass Jazz Festival.

For the second year, dance will come in the form of ballet staged at the Hanover Theatre. This year, however, there will be two ballet productions - "Don Quixote," an internationally acclaimed performance by The Israel Ballet, and "Sleeping Beauty" performed by The Moscow Festival Ballet

"I think, first and foremost, that our spectacular sesquicentennial performances will provide our audience with all the elements of an exciting celebratory season," said Music Worcester executive director Stasia B. Hovenesian. "And, secondly, the incredible cultural enrichment they offer will further enhance our music festival's international reputation as the longest running music series in the country and its recognition as one of the jewels in Worcester's cultural crown."

Opening events Oct. 16 will also include a pre-concert dinner, a commemorative program book with a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama, and a "surprise," Hovenesian said.

For more information, call (508) 754-3231 or visit www.musicworcester.org.

The schedule is as follows (performances begin at 8 p.m. unless noted otherwise):

Oct. 16: Orquestra de Sao Paulo - Kazem Abdullah, conductor. World-renowned...

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