Symphony plans concert in School Park Preserve

Musicians think outside the theater
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal features editor
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The Auburn Symphony started rehearsals Tuesday evening for its 25th season – the first with Maestro Peter Jaffe at the helm.

Jaffe splits his time between conducting here and in Stockton, where he leads the symphony there. The symphony here has been in recess for several months, but the past few weeks have seen Jaffe make the trip for fundraisers, and to preview the season.

“I’ve got to say, the drive is feeling shorter and shorter,” he laughed. “It has just been a pleasure to come up here, and it’s going to be a very full season.”

That season starts with Symphony in the Park on Sept. 8, when the full orchestra will gather in School Park Preserve to present a free concert for all. The theme this year is “Fancy Footwork.”

“It’s a combination of dance pieces and marches, so it all has to do with moving your feet,” Jaffe said.

The toe-tapping lineup includes the “Toreador March” from “Carmen,” Saint-Saens’ “Bacchanale from “Samson et Dalila,” a waltz from “Swan Lake,” Sousa’s “Liberty March” and the “Superman March.”

“I think it’s a nice mix of light classical with a little pops,” said Carole Darlington, a flutist and founding member of the symphony.

Darlington and fellow founding member Kathleen Sailor, violin, agreed that the prospect of playing under Jaffe’s direction is exciting.

“I think he’s going to challenge us like we’ve never been challenged before,” Sailor said, pointing out his enthusiasm and keen interest in getting the audience involved in the music. 

Darlington said she looks forward to the outdoor concert each year because it’s a chance for families to bring chairs and a picnic to the park and enjoy the  music.

“I like the fact that we reach more people who maybe haven’t been exposed to our music,” she said. “It’s families of all ages, and just a real variety of people who get the chance to hear us, sometimes for the first time.”

The show will begin with an opening performance by the Auburn Youth Symphony, a tradition started by the late Maestro Michael Goodwin.

Jaffe said the sound system at the outdoor concert will help with the vastly different acoustics.

“It isn’t quite the same as playing in a theater,” he said, “but what we gain by it is the wonderful atmosphere with everybody enjoying themselves – that kind of casual atmosphere. We really like that kind of engagement.”

From here on out, the symphony is in rehearsal every Tuesday for the upcoming season. As soon as the park performance is over, the players will focus on preparing for the first Masterworks Concert Oct. 27.

When asked why the symphony puts on a show for free, Jaffe replied that in any enterprise, one of the most important things to do is acquaint people with what you provide.

“You can go into Trader Joe’s or other places like that, and they will give you a free sample of something, just so you can taste how delicious it is,” he said. It’s no different with Symphony in the Park. “You get the experience of this wonderful art form, and then you’ll come back. I think it’s a great way to sort of acquaint the whole community with how wonderful the symphony orchestra is.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at Follow her on Twitter@AuburnJournalAE.



Symphony in the Park

When: 6-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 (gates open at 5:15 p.m.)

Where: School Park Preserve, 55 College Way, Auburn

Cost: Free

Info:; (530) 823-6683

Bring a flashlight to illuminate the way back to your car after the performance; picnic dinners and low-backed chairs welcome.