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Gulf Coast Symphony to perform Beethoven's 9th

January 9, 2013
North Fort Myers Neighbor

Experience One of the Greatest Pieces of Music Ever Written: Gulf Coast Symphony Performs Beethoven's 9th on Sunday, Jan. 13, at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall

The Gulf Coast Symphony, Southwest Florida's premier community orchestra, presents the next of this season's Classical Access Concerts on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. The program features Beethoven's 9th Symphony, largely regarded as his best. The Gulf Coast Symphony will be joined by the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers and soloists Jennifer Braun, Jody Kidwell, Christopher Lorge, and Paul Corujo. Also on the program is Beethoven's beautiful "Elegiac Song," Op. 118 for chorus and strings. Tickets start at $25 and are available through the Barbara B. Mann box office (, 239-481-4849).

About the Program

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Opus 125, is the last work completed by the orchestral giant Ludwig von Beethoven and is considered by many to be his masterpiece. A familiar favorite, Beethoven's 9th thrills audiences with its emotion, culminating in the final movement that brings together an impressive array of soloists, chorus, and orchestra in the famous and climactic "Ode to Joy."

Maestro Andrew Kurtz, the Gulf Coast Symphony's music director, said, "The opportunity to bring this amazing choral masterpiece to the Southwest Florida community is a special treat for everyone involved. It stands as one of the greatest pieces ever written for chorus and orchestra, and often stands in the hearts to inspire. What an uplifting way to begin the new year."

Also on the program is one of Beethoven's lesser-known pieces, "Elegiac Song," Op. 118. This brief but heartfelt work was originally written for string quartet and four vocalists, but later adapted for orchestra and chorus.

Special Guests

Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers

The Gulf Coast Symphony will be joined in the fourth movement by the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers. Under the direction of Jeff Faux, this 75-voice ensemble of vocal musicians enjoys a reputation of musical excellence and innovative programs. The group performs approximately six to eight concerts each season, providing an opportunity for experienced singers to perform a wide range of choral music with strong emphasis on the masterworks, thereby promoting and enhancing the choral art form in the Southwest Florida community. Selection of music is intended for the enrichment and growth of the singer as well as for the enjoyment of audiences, so encompasses a variety of music for both large and small audiences in sacred and secular settings. Learn more at

Jennifer Braun, Soprano

Jennifer Braun is a young artist at the Center City Opera Theater in Philadelphia. She has been a soloist with the Toledo and Westerville Symphonies and has performed with both Opera Columbus and the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio. Ms. Braun's operatic credits include Norina (Don Pasquale), Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte), Violetta (La Traviata), Cunegonde (Candide), and Rosalinda and Adele (Die Fledermaus). Most recently, Ms. Braun performed the role of Rosalinda at Opera in the Ozarks, for which she was awarded best performance in a female leading role by her colleagues. Ms. Braun is a graduate of Otterbein College and received her master's degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder. She has sung in masterclasses given by Suzanne Mentzer, Thomas Hampson, Mark Calkins, and Libby Larsen. Other upcoming roles include Bea (Three Decembers), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Musetta (La Bohme) with Center City Opera Theater.

Jody Kidwell, Mezzo Soprano

Jody Kidwell was a winner in the third Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition, and was later chosen by Mr. Pavarotti to appear in Luisa Miller filmed by PBS. Gian Carlo Menotti directed her in his opera, The Saint of Bleecker Street, in which her portrayal of Desideria was heralded by critics as "all stops out singing--haunting ... steamy ... intense." As Zulma in Opera Company of Philadelphia's L'Italiana in Algeri, Ms. Kidwell was heard and seen on WHYY's Philadelphia Performs series. Other roles include Carmen (Carmen), Isabella (L'Italiana in Algeri), Olga (Eugene Onegin), and Maddalena (Rigoletto). Recently Ms. Kidwell appeared with Opera Columbus as Aldonza/Dulcinea in Man of LaMancha, and as Dido in Dido and Aeneas, with the Lehigh Chamber Symphony in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Ms. Kidwell is equally known for her character work as Czipra in The Gypsy Baron, Mrs. McLean in Susannah, and Mrs. Peachum in Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera. At home on the concert stage, Ms. Kidwell has performed the major concert works of Verdi, Beethoven, Rossini, Elgar, DeFalla, Mahler and Mozart with the North Carolina Symphony, The Las Vegas Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The National Symphony of San Jose, Costa Rica and Bogota, Columbia. She has also sung the major oratorio works of Bach, Handel, and Mendelssohn. She can be heard on the Lyrachord label in Mozart's Requiem with Vox Ama Deus. Additionally, Ms. Kidwell has performed with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops and is a regular guest with the Ocean City Pops on the famous Jersey Shore Boardwalk at the Music Pier.

Christopher Lorge, Tenor

Christopher Lorge is a resident artist with Center City Opera Theater in Philadelphia. He has appeared as a soloist for numerous ensembles in the southern New Jersey area, as well as with the Ocean City Pops Orchestra. In 2009 he made his debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall as a finalist for the Accadia Foundation's inaugural Competition for Operatic Voice. Previous roles include Ferrando in Cos Fan Tutte, and Stravinsky in the world premiere of Danse Russe. Other upcoming engagements include Rodolfo in La Bohme with Center City Opera Theater.

Paul Corujo, Baritone

Paul Corujo has appeared with the Baltimore Opera Company, Chesapeake Chamber Opera, Opera Lancaster, and Center Stage Opera, among others. He has appeared as an oratorio soloist with the Baltimore Baroque Band, the San Francisco Early Music Society, and Apollo Arts, and has an affinity for the works of J.S. Bach. Recent performances include the Father in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel with Chesapeake Chamber Opera, the Count in The Marriage of Figaro, Marcello in La Bohme with Opera Lancaster, and the title role in Don Giovanni with Center Stage Opera. Last season he sang the roles of Roger Corboz in the North American premiere of Edward Rushton's The Shops with Center City Opera Theater. Mr. Corujo is a graduate of the University of California, Davis and received his master's degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

Classical Access Concerts

Each program in the Gulf Coast Symphony's Classical Access Concert Series engages the audience as active listeners. Maestro Andrew Kurtz will discuss the musical selection and demonstrate, using orchestral excerpts, various elements that make the evening's program special. Highly interactive, the concert is both entertaining and educational, and the casual atmosphere of these concerts only enhances the concertgoer's experience. Following the concert, the conductor will hold a question-and-answer session with interested audience members. Detailed program notes can also be found at

Gulf Coast Symphony General Information

The Gulf Coast Symphony is Southwest Florida's premier community orchestra.

Its 18th season features its highly popular Symphonic Pops Concert Series (Hollywood Hits! on January 27; Dancing & Romancing on Feb. 16; Andrew Lloyd Weber Unmasked on March 10; and Broadway Showstoppers on April 7) and the Classical Access Concerts (Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring rising guest star pianist Di Wu on Nov. 18; Beethoven's 9th Symphony, featuring the Fort Myers Mastersingers on Jan. 13; and La Traviata, featuring Philadelphia's Center City Opera Theater on May 18), both of which are held at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. A holiday concert, "Deck the Halls," on Dec. 16 at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, an outdoor pops concerts on March 3 at Four Freedoms Park in Cape Coral, and youth concerts on Oct. 28 and in June are also scheduled. Look for additional Gulf Coast Symphony ensemble performances throughout Southwest Florida from October through June. For more information on orchestra membership, call the Gulf Coast Symphony office at 239-277-1700 or email us at

Music Director

Dr. Andrew M. Kurtz enters his eighteenth season as Music & Executive Director and Conductor of the Gulf Coast Symphony. He was the winner of the prestigious 2007 "Performing Artist of the Year" Angel of the Arts Award and the first prize winner of the Accademia Dell'Arte di Firenze International Conducting Competition. Kurtz is also General & Artistic Director and founder of the Center City Opera Theater (CCOT), a professional opera company in Philadelphia with an international reputation for its dedication to new work. Kurtz's conducting has been called "passionate, expansive, expert, and musical." His repertoire encompasses a wide range of music styles from baroque to contemporary, and multiple genres including opera, symphonic, ballet, musical theater, jazz, cantorial, and symphonic pops. He is the international tour conductor of "CANTORS: A Faith In Song," featuring three of the world's leading cantors. Kurtz served on the board of the Conductors Guild and is a past president of the board of the Lee County Alliance for the Arts. Kurtz completed his doctoral studies in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where he received his master's degree in music history and a bachelor of arts degree in music and drama.

Gulf Coast Symphony Sponsors

The Gulf Coast Symphony's 2012-2013 season sponsors include: Dr. Jacob Goldberger and Margarita Suarez and family; 21st Century Oncology; the Bireley Family Fund; Advanced Pain Management & Spine Specialists; Mayer Family Dental; Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A.



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