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Indy orchestra coming to Center Grove area for concerts

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Some of history’s greatest musical compositions are coming to Johnson County.

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is hitting the road to perform pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin and Gustav Mahler.

Conducting a cacophony of crashing cymbals, flitting woodwinds and frantic violins, international classical superstar Krzysztof Urbanski will lead a full orchestra to the Center Grove area.

In a rare partnership, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will bring its entire company to the county this year for a series of three full concerts. The Center Grove area is one of only two locations for what is being dubbed the 317 Series, joining Avon in the new symphony program.

Supporters hope the close proximity to home and discounted tickets will encourage more people to show an interest in world-class orchestral music.

“We all want to make Johnson County a destination by using the arts to do that, bettering our community and making the cultural environment very inviting,” said Karen Wilkerson, president of the Greater Greenwood Arts Council.

Local residents will be able to hear Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No. 4,” Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and Mahler’s “Symphony No. 5” all within minutes of their homes.

The performances will be full shows equivalent to what the symphony presents during its regular season in Indianapolis. Attendees will see the same musicians and the same conductors and in some cases hear the same selections.

“At the end of the day, one thing I’m confident of, when they hear a great orchestra, they respond. We made a commitment to bring down our best conductors and best musicians and best selections,” said Gary Ginstling, CEO of the symphony. “When people in Greenwood see how amazing a live orchestra is, they’ll want to come back.”

To make the series a reality, symphony officials had to find communities surrounding Indianapolis that were supportive of the arts and had the venues to host an entire orchestra.

“We looked at aspects such as growing school-based music programs, a commitment to the arts and communities that were interested in growing the arts,” Ginstling said. “We certainly saw that in Greenwood.”

Working with the Greater Greenwood Arts Council, they worked out the locations that featured ample seating, professional sound systems and room for the orchestra’s nearly 80 musicians.

Center Grove High School’s auditorium and Mount Pleasant Christian Church were chosen to host the concerts.

“Our goal was to get the (Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra) and our music-making in front of more people as possible,” Ginstling said. “We wanted to reach out our base further than outside downtown Indianapolis.”

Part of the appeal will be a discounted ticket. All adult tickets will be $20, while students need only pay $10. That’s half the price or a normal ticket to the symphony.

On Monday, representatives from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Greater Greenwood Arts Council gathered at Mallow Run Winery with community leaders and educators to discuss the partnership’s potential.

Leaders also are crafting an educational component to go along with the full concerts. Smaller recitals with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra musicians are being discussed, as well as bringing musicians to area schools and presenting a behind-the-scenes look at the symphony.

“Our goal is to create an ongoing relationship with the community,” Ginstling said. “We do a series of programs at the Hilbert Circle Theater that goes deeper into the musical content or chance to engage with one of our guest artists.”

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