Mobile Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will repay a debt. If you read MSO Music Director Scott Speck’s online confessional, it makes sense their season finale is all by composer John Williams. It traces back to a killer shark.
“Can you imagine ‘Jaws’ without those two notes?” Speck asked in his MSO website essay on being captivated by Williams in 1975. “Using only two notes just a half step apart [the smallest interval in Western music], John Williams compelled us to feel the unrelenting power and terror of a great white shark.”
Speck said the 52-time Academy Award winner has lived long enough at age 90 to see his work break into the overly discriminating classical music realm. Once derided for his accessibility, Williams’ compositions have been featured by highbrow, staid outfits lately, like the notably “stodgy” Vienna Philharmonic orchestra.
Speck said Williams compelled him to pursue film scoring before redirecting to leading orchestras. Even then, Williams’ time with the Boston Pops provided inspiration.
“The opportunity to see him live and watch him transform my world was absolutely formative,” Speck admitted.
This show features the largest orchestra MSO has felt comfortable with since the pandemic began. It’s apparent in the program, which includes several pieces from “Star Wars,” work from “Jaws,” “Schindler’s List,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Saving Private Ryan” and more.
The Saturday, May 21, show is at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday, May 22, matinee is at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20-$89, $10 for students.
Through MSO’s Big Red Ticket program, sponsored by the Alabama Power Foundation, students in grades K-12 can attend any of the season’s six classical Sunday performances for free when accompanied by a paying adult (excludes special events like the annual holiday concert).
Tickets are available by calling 251-432-2010, at mobilesymphony.org or at the MSO box office at 257 Dauphin Street.
Based on new CDC guidance and the decline in COVID cases in our area, masks will not be required at these performances. The MSO continues to welcome and encourage masks, particularly for those in high-risk populations.
This concert is performed in memory of MSO patrons Paul Low and Allan Rowe. Sponsors are WKRG-TV, Red or White, Anne Low and Nancy Rowe.
Concerts are made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Film honchos tour Africatown
In the wake of “Descendant,” a documentary about the Africatown community that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, a group of production companies visited to size up the community formed by the last captive Africans to arrive in America bound for slavery. According to community activist and film subject Joe Womack, representatives from Netflix Productions, Participant Productions and President Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions got a first-hand look at the area. Those companies bought streaming rights for the film.
Film producers met the stars of “Descendant” during an April reception at Africatown’s Robert Hope Community Center. Locals voiced hopes about a possible miniseries or a dramatic film down the road. A three-hour bus tour took place the next day.
The representatives gave no firm date on the start of streaming availability for “Descendant,” though Netflix has been in the news for a recent drop in stock values and subscribers.
New arts fest at Midtown’s Murphy High
Instructors for Murphy High School’s (100 S. Carlen St.) Four Arts club have coordinated a Summer Splash Festival for Thursday, May 26, 4-7 p.m., featuring both student and community creatives. The disciplines of chorus, theater, visual art, band, and dance — yes, that’s five in the Four Arts program; bear with us — merge with the Culinary Arts programs to raise money for the landmark campus’s facilities.
Dance instructor Sarah Strada said the idea grew from the transformation of the school’s “dance barn” into a roughly 200-seat black box theater. Grant money provided some funding, but more is needed. That means enterprising students and local supporters pick up the slack.
The festival includes visual art booths with guest artists, live performances and refreshments. The band department will provide live music. A stage play collection of character vignettes entitled “Almost Maine” starts at 6 p.m.
General admission is $10 and includes access to booths and refreshments. The $15 All-Inclusive admission adds admission to the play. Tickets are available via QR code on promotional material and on Murphy High School’s website.
The event is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Mobile Arts Council and Mobile County Public Schools.
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