A CONVERSATION WITH THE CONDUCTOR
Updated: Sep 17
Demetrius Fuller Weighs in on ‘Thrilling’ Season 16
By Zandra Wolfgram
Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s 2021-2022 season lineup is big. As in big Broadway stars and singers, film cult classics, legendary bands, classical connections, blockbuster movies and more.
Putting together a season that will thrill is an artform and Sinfonia Music & Artistic Director Demetrius Fuller has answered the call for the 16th time. We talked with the maestro to get the inside scoop on the upcoming season and here is what he had to say:
ZW: You are kicking things off with a delicious nod to Broadway. Tell us why.
DF: September 14 we are featuring A Tribute to Broadway Featuring Shoshana Bean. We chose this date because it marks the official reopening of Broadway. We wanted to create a cabaret-style evening and showcase a true artist who has a tie to Broadway. We have that in Shoshana Bean. From the Broadway perspective, her debut was as Shelly in the original revival cast of Hairspray, she was Idina Menzel’s replacement for Elphaba in Wicked, and most recently she was Jenna, the lead in Waitress. She's an amazing singer with No. 1 hits on Billboard, and she's been on TV and film across the gamut performing with the likes of Ariana Grande, David Foster and even Michael Jackson. Everyone says experiencing our intimate events at Seagar’s is kind of like bringing New York to our little area, so we wanted to keep that feel for sure.
ZW: Psycho in Concert (Oct. 23) is terrifying in a fabulous way. Tell us a bit about this classic thriller.
DF: We always try to make things relevant by tying in all aspects of culture, whether it's classical culture or pop culture. Everybody knows the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. This was a fun opportunity to stage a classic film and concert in the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village the week before Halloween. The famous shrill, spine-tingling sound in the film score is accomplished solely by strings, so we will be featuring Sinfonia’s string players performing live which will surely amplify the terrorizing moments that captivated movie buffs from the start.
ZW: November 13 you are featuring the Classical Mystery Tour a tribute to The Beatles. Now, that’s a great way for everyone to “come together.”
DF: Yes, in returning to the stage we wanted to keep the programming fun and light. Everybody loves The Beatles and it's literally the longest running tribute that has performed with a symphony. They've sold millions of tickets worldwide and we’re happy to have them and have our orchestra perform with them.
ZW: December 10 we have Holiday Pops with Nicholas Rodriguez who is already a friend of Sinfonia stage.
DF: The holiday concert is such a family-friendly concert. We always try to have fun, family-friendly artists perform. Nick has performed as a special guest artist at Crescendo! and he also did a Broadway concert with Morgan James, but he's never had his own concert with the orchestra. So, now that we know him, we know how amazing he is, it just seemed right to be able to feature him in his own performance. He’ll do holiday favorites, but also selections from the Great American Songbook and some pop songs — it will be a nice array of music.
ZW: January 8 we warm up winter with Time For Three. They are described as a classically trained garage band. That’s got our attention, tell us more.
DF: Yes, we are excited to bring back a few familiar faces. Time for Three (Charles Yang, Nicolas “Nick” Kendall and Ranaan Meyer) has performed at one of our Fourth of July Pops concerts and Nick Kendall has performed for our audience in the past. Grammy-nominated composer and jazz legend Chris Brubeck will return to the Sinfonia stage to perform the Southeast U.S. premier of his concerto entitled “Travels in Time for Three,” which he wrote for them. Mind you, all of them are from the top conservatories in the country, so beyond the concerto, it's going to be a big jam session, basically.
ZW: Exciting! And then we have a Classi-Palooza Classical Connections concert March 12 with two intriguing pieces.
DF: We get our taste of classical taste here in a riveting way. Igor Stravinsky wrote The Soldier’s Tale, which is basically a classic mini narrated theater piece set to music. It is very exciting, pointed, and theatrical music. And then, we have Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A Major on the opposite end of the spectrum, which is whimsical, joyful, and playful. Aaron King Vaughn is conducting, which is wonderful.
ZW: April 30 we go big and bold as always by capping this season with Raiders of the Lost Ark in Concert.
DF: So, this is John Williams’ epic score paired with the full showing of the famous adventure film. It comes alive even more because the soundtrack is removed and replaced with Sinfonia’s live orchestra. A bit of the back story is that the licensing for the Indiana Jones series, especially the Raiders of the Lost Ark is expiring at the end of April, so we just may be the last orchestra to perform this arrangement of the production. This is timely, because Disney has a new Indiana Jones movie featuring Harrison Ford coming out in May. So, audiences can gear up for that by watching our live concert.
ZW: Congratulations, maestro, on a truly thrilling lineup. So much to look forward to and, of course, tickets are on sale now at SinfoniaGulfCoast.org.