Winston-Salem Symphony to Open Classics Season with Beethoven’s Ninth

Winston-Salem Symphony Chorale, UNCSA Cantata Singers, and
Renowned Guest Singers to Perform

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (SEPTEMBER 30, 2016) – The Winston-Salem Symphony and Music Director Robert Moody will open the 2016-2017 Classics Series with concerts featuring Ludwig van Beethoven’s masterpiece Symphony No. 9 on Saturday, October 15, Sunday, October 16, and Tuesday, October 18. In addition to performing Beethoven’s Ninth, the Symphony also will play contemporary composer Mason Bates’ Ode, which is an interpretation of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the final movement of the Ninth Symphony.

Guest artists Christina Major, soprano; Stephanie Foley Davis, mezzo soprano; Vale Rideout, tenor; and Solomon Howard, bass; along with the Winston-Salem Symphony Chorale, Dr. Christopher Gilliam, director; and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Cantata Singers will help bring Beethoven’s monumental masterpiece to life.

Under the baton of Maestro Moody, the concerts will take place on Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, October 16 at 3 p.m., and Tuesday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Stevens Center of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, 405 West Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem. Tickets range from $20 – $67 and are available in advance by calling the Symphony Box Office at 336-464-0145 or online at

The Saturday, October 15 performance is part of the Kicked-Back Classics Series. Kicked-Back Classics concerts are full-length but have a more informal atmosphere and include educational insights from the conductor.

Several pre-concert programs will take place and will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about the upcoming concerts:

Musical Morning, a lively and informative pre-concert program with featured guest Peter Perret, will take place on Saturday, October 8 at 10 a.m. at Salemtowne Retirement Community, located at 190 Moravian Way in Winston-Salem. This event is free and open to the public and includes light refreshments. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 336. 725.1035, extension 227.

Music Lovers’ Luncheon, a fun and informative pre-concert lunch with Maestro Moody and special guest Dr. David Levy will take place Friday, October 14 at noon at 1703 Restaurant, located at 1703 Robinhood Road in Winston-Salem. The luncheon is $20 per person and is a great opportunity to learn more about the concert in a relaxed atmosphere. Reservations are requested for the Music Lovers’ Luncheon and can be made by calling 336.464.0145.

Students of all ages can enjoy a free open rehearsal with the Symphony on Friday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the Stevens Center of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, 405 W. Fourth Street. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn how a professional symphony orchestra rehearses, to watch how musicians and conductor interact with each other musically, and to discover interesting things about the repertoire being performed. Free tickets can be reserved online at or by calling the Symphony Box Office at 336-464-0145.

The concerts will open with contemporary composer Mason Bate’s Ode, which is a reflection on Beethoven’s great masterpiece. Beethoven’s work, written in 1824, conveys a promise of peace and hope. Bates takes a look at whether history since the piece was written supports this dream of peace. He reverses the order of the movements, beginning with joy and progressing backwards chronicling the world wars and major conflicts that took place since 1824. He ends on a more unsettling and ambiguous note than Beethoven, leaving the listener to wonder about our world’s ability to find peace.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is one of the world’s most beloved and revered masterpieces. Its timeless message of peace and joy has resonated since its first performance. Not only is it played constantly in concert halls throughout the world, but it has been sung by Chilean demonstrators during the Pinochet dictatorship, broadcast by Chinese students during the stand at Tiananmen Square, and performed following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

American Soprano Christina Major is a rising star, known for her sumptuous and agile “Italianate sound.” In Opera News, she was hailed as being a “sensitive actress” who “provided the highest emotional stakes of the evening.” The San Francisco Chronicle said she is a “fascinating and hugely talented singer,” with a “magnetic presence and vocal brilliance,” and the Oakland Tribune called her performance of Violetta as “literally and figuratively worth dying for.” She has performed with opera companies throughout the United States and is equally at home on the concert stage. Major was a Grand Finalist at the 2012 and 2013 Irene Dalis Vocal Competition, a Grant winner at the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation competition in 2009 and 2010, a second prize winner in the Gerda Lissner Foundation in 2010 and second prize winner in the Trujillo, Peru Concurso Internacional de Canto Lirico in 2007.

Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Foley Davis was praised by the New York Times in her Glimmerglass Festival debut as “a poised, touching Ma Moss,” and Opera News said she was “a loving, careworn Ma, warm of voice and presence.” She has performed across the nation in numerous operas, oratorios and concerts. Davis received a Professional Artist Certificate at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she studied with Marion Pratnicki. She completed her Master of Music degree in vocal performance with Robert Wells at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Davis earned her BA in Vocal Performance and BS in Sound Recording Technology from the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Tenor Vale Rideout has garnered critical acclaim for his musical artistry and superb stagecraft throughout the United States and Europe. Possessed of both a beautiful instrument and an ability to consistently deliver passionate, energetic performances, he is equally in demand for leading tenor roles from the standard repertory to contemporary works. The Colorado native can be heard on his recently released solo CD of Britten and Finzi songs, as well as on live recordings of Rio de sangre (Albany Records, GRAMMY Award nomination) and, as Frank Shallard, in Elmer Gantry (on Naxos, received two GRAMMY awards, and voted No. 1 by Opera News “Best of the Year”), both produced by Florentine Opera. He has performed on numerous opera stages and in concert halls in the United States and abroad to great acclaim. Rideout was awarded first prize in Savannah Music Festival’s 2006 American Traditions Competition and was a 2003 regional finalist in the Metropolitan National Council Auditions.

A recent graduate of Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, bass Soloman Howard is garnering superlatives from the press for his vivid performances on the opera and concert stages. His voice is called “sonorous” by The New York Times, “superhuman” by The Denver Post, and “spectacular” by Maryland Theatre Guide. Soloman Howard’s 2015-2016 season included performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel conducting both the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra on tour and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Highlights of the recent past for the Washington National Opera feature Sarastro in The Magic Flute, Ole Joe in Show Boat, Commendatore in Don Giovanni, and the High Priest of Baal in Nabucco.  As a part of the Company’s American Opera Initiative, Howard created the role of Muhammad Ali in the world premiere of Approaching Ali by composer D. J. Sparr.  Of his performance, The Washington Post noted, “the accomplished young bass Soloman Howard, a Washington native, gave powerful voice to Muhammad Ali with equal parts humor and proud bluster.”

For a listing of full artist biographies, please visit

This concert and the Winston-Salem Symphony are sponsored by Season Presenting Sponsor Bell, Davis, & Pitt, P.A.; Classics Presenting Sponsor Wells Fargo The Private Bank; Kicked-Back Classics Series Underwriters Chris and Mike Morykwas; Concert Sponsor Arbor Acres; 89.9 FM WDAV Classical Public Radio as well as the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and the North Carolina Arts Council.

About the Winston-Salem Symphony

The Winston-Salem Symphony, one of the Southeast’s most highly regarded regional orchestras, began its 70th anniversary performance season in September 2016. Under the baton of Music Director Robert Moody, the season includes a special 70th anniversary opening gala concert, Classics and Kicked-Back Classics series, Plugged-In Pops series, Discovery Concerts for Kids, annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, a concert featuring Winston-Salem Symphony and Youth Symphony musicians, holiday concerts, three youth orchestra ensembles, and a multitude of educational and community engagement programs. The Symphony is supported by Season Presenting Sponsor, Bell, Davis & Pitt, P.A. and generous funding from the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, the North Carolina Arts Council, and other dedicated sponsors. For more information, visit

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This project was supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.

The Winston-Salem Symphony receives operational funding from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County

Educational initiatives made possible with funding by Wells Fargo, The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and The Winston-Salem and Forsyth County Schools.