Concert Season 2022-2023


Coastal Symphony of Georgia 2022-23 Concert Season
Michelle Merrill, Music Director and Conductor
Brunswick High School Auditorium
Monday, October 3, 2022, 8:00 p.m.


Carnival Overture: Antonin Dvorak
Ballet Suite:  from The Incredible Flutist Walter Piston
Symphony in E Minor “Gaelic”:  Amy Beach

Opening Night features a celebration of life, a busy marketplace, and the first successful symphony written by a woman.

The vivacious, colorful, and somewhat mysterious Carnival Overture (1891) opens the concert in a festive setting that Brahms called “merry.” Dvorak’s music was written for the second piece of a trilogy of overtures titled Nature, Life, Othello. The Bohemian composer gives special notice to a single tambourine which plays a large role at the end of the piece.

Piston’s Ballet Suite (1938) follows complete with dances, the arrival of a circus, a flutist who charms snakes – and women, and a polka finale set in a marketplace teeming with activity. The music is colorful, tuneful, and engaging. Be sure to listen for the dog!

Beach’s Symphony (1896), influenced by the melodies of Boston’s large Irish immigrant population at the time, closes the concert. Beach was responding to Dvorak’s invitation to American composers to write a distinctly American sound possibly including Native American and African American elements. But Beach, writing the first symphony by an American woman to gain public attention, was attracted to what she called the “simple, rugged, and unpretentious beauty” of Irish music.

Coastal Symphony of Georgia 2022-23 Concert Season
Michelle Merrill, Music Director and Conductor
Brunswick High School Auditorium
Monday, November 7, 2022, 8:00 p.m.


Fate Now Conquers:  Carlos Simon
Siegfried Idyll:  Richard Wagner
Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”:  Ludwig von Beethoven

Music from an exciting new composer, the brilliance of Beethoven, and a sweet expression of love from Wagner are featured in our second concert.

Carlos Simon says he was influenced by an excerpt from Homer’s Iliad that he found in one of Beethoven’s journals – “But fate now conquers, I am hers…” – as well as the fluid harmonic structure of the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. The result is frenzied arpeggios and free-flowing running passages in Fate Now Conquers depicting the uncertainty of life that hovers over us. The piece was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2020.

A mother and son theme informs the second piece on the program in Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll (1870.) Originally titled The Tribschen Idyll, the symphonic poem presented in sonata form celebrates private joys, domestic bliss, and the birth of a son. It has been described as a sumptuous piece of music that expresses his paternal and romantic love.

Beethoven’s brilliant Symphony No. 3, Eroica, closes the program. It is considered a milestone work of classical-style composition and marks the beginning of the Romantic period in classical music. Gigantic in scope, the symphony covers a wealth of emotional ground thematically and launches Beethoven’s creative middle period, unrivaled for its astonishing output.

Coastal Symphony of Georgia 2022-23 Concert Season
Michelle Merrill, Music Director and Conductor
Wesley United Methodist Church, St. Simons Island
Monday, February 6, 2023, 8:00 p.m.


Simple Symphony:  Benjamin Britten
Samarthana for Viola and Orchestra:  Johan Hugosson
Fratres for Viola, Percussion and Strings:  Arvo Part
Symphony No. 40:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Our Winter concert brings us music from a youthful Britten, a melancholy Mozart, and a renowned viola soloist.

The concert begins with the youthful exuberance of Britten’s Simple Symphony (1933.) Based on eight themes, two per movement, the music uses bits of scores he had written for piano as a teenager. Just 20 when he completed the symphony, Britten gives us a Boisterous Bourrée, a Playful Pizzicato, a Sentimental Sarabande, and a Frolicsome Finale. Prepare to be delighted!

Hugosson’s Samarthana (2021) follows. The young, Swedish composer has been described as “a national treasure” whose music is known for memorable melodies, both moving and joyful. International violist Brett Deubner will join the orchestra for this piece, as well as Part’s Fratres (1977/1991.) This work uses the tintinnabuli principle: not one but two melody voices a tenth apart, plus a third fill-in voice in the middle resulting in a rather meditative effect.

One of Mozart’s most frequently performed and greatly admired works closes the concert. Listen for the recognizable melody in the first movement and the resounding, swiftly ascending passage in the fourth. This is Mozart in a more serious mood, and it is only one of two symphonies he wrote in the minor key.

Coastal Symphony of Georgia 2022-23 Concert Season
Michelle Merrill, Music Director and Conductor
Brunswick High School Auditorium
Monday, May 8, 2023, 8:00 p.m.


Something for the Dark:  Sarah Kirkland Snider
Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra:  Giovanni Bottesini
Symphony No. 5:  Dimitri Shostakovich

Our Spring concert brings us music of endurance and resilience.

Snider’s piece was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony in 2016 as a result of her receiving the DSO Elaine Lebenbom Award for Female Composers in 2014. She says thinking about Detroit caused her to think about resilience – what it means to endure. The music opens with a bold statement of hope in the horns and trombones, then takes us through humbling passages to a delicate tune in flute, harp and celeste, and on to a testing tumult before finding a “kind of a clear-eyed serenity – maybe even the kind of hope that endures.”

Bottesini’s Concerto follows with its mysterious melodies and deep, rich sounds. It has been said the 19th Century Italian composer was to the double bass what Paganini was to the violin or Liszt to the piano – a virtuoso supreme. A guest artist will join the orchestra for the concerto.

The evening closes with Dimitri Shostakovich’s powerful and controversial Fifth Symphony. It was written at the height of Stalin’s purges: a time of death, fear, and artistic repression; and there is a constant sense of urgency, an overwhelming sadness to the music. The public heard the symphony as an expression of the suffering to which it had been subjected; the authorities claimed they found everything in the work they had demanded of Shostakovich.