River Cities Symphony show
It’s a program both in and tailored for Marietta.
The River Cities Symphony Orchestra will present a pops concert at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Peoples Bank Theatre that will include selections from movie soundtracks related to Marietta and a concert suite from a Broadway production composed by Josh Rosenblum, who grew up in the city.
“Naughty Marietta” derives its name from the main character, not the city, and is an operetta-style film from the 1930s starring Jeanette McDonald with music composed by Victor Herbert. The orchestra will play selections from that film, which is about a woman fleeing an arranged marriage.
The movie “Battle Hymn” was produced with Rock Hudson in the starring role as Col. Dean Hess, a real-life character who lived in Marietta for a time and attended Marietta College. The film was based on his autobiographical book about his moral struggle as a bomber pilot who mistakenly dropped bombs on an orphanage in Germany in World War II. He re-enlists as a fighter pilot instructor during the Korean War and establishes an orphanage for children displaced in that war.
Release of the film in 1957 was a huge event in Marietta.
“The really cool thing is that the world premiere of that film was given at Peoples Bank Theatre,” said River Cities Symphony conductor Robert Turizziani. “Rock Hudson was here, there was a parade, because of course Dean Hess, the man who wrote the book, was connected with Marietta. I was really just kind of cool that they brought all those stars to Marietta to open the film.”
The music for the film was composed by Frank Skinner, and the orchestra will play selections from the soundtrack.
Broadway musical composer and concert musician Josh Rosenblum’s work will also be featured in the Sunday matinee. Rosenblum grew up in Marietta.
“We’ll be performing Einstein’s Dreams, he extracted a concert suite from that, it’s quite nice, Broadway stage music,” Turizziani said.
The program will include familiar pops hits as well, such as those from Camelot and Oklahoma.
“It’s really accessible music, the kind you want to sing along to,” he said. “There will be a couple of classical pieces, the popular kind.”
The River Cities Symphony was established as a nonprofit in 1997, an expanded and regionalized group based on the Marietta Chamber Orchestra. Turizziani has been the conductor and music director for 15 years, and Mac Lichterman is the group’s volunteer administrator and a founding member. The orchestra is made up of paid professional musicians, nearly all of whom play in one or more other ensembles, and keeping the orchestra afloat is a perpetual challenge, Lichterman said.
“Over the years we’ve solicited enough in donations, grants, sponsorships and program advertising,” he said. “Like all but the very biggest orchestras, very few can manage on ticket revenues. We’ve managed to keep going, and it’s pretty amazing story for a regional orchestra on a shoestring budget. And it’s a very, very fine orchestra.”
Lichterman said the group’s annual budget is about $80,000. It performs in Marietta and other regional centers.
Like most of the orchestra members, Turizziani has a number of professional identities. In addition to conductor and music director for the River Cities Symphony, he’s also the principal clarinet for the West Virginia Symphony, music director for the Chicago Chamber Orchestra and a teacher at West Virginia Wesleyan College and West Virginia State University.
“I love coming to Marietta, the people are great, and that theater is a great place to perform,” he said. “I would love to see it full.”
Lichterman said the orchestra is well-regarded.
“The theater staff has often commented they consider us to be the same level of quality as the outside artists they bring in,” he said. “We have a lot to be proud of.”
The concert starts at 3 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices are $15 and up.
Michael Kelly can be contacted at email@example.com
River Cities Symphony Orchestra pops concert
¯ When: 3 p.m. Sunday.
¯ Where: Peoples Bank Theatre.
¯ Program: “Naughty Marietta” and “Battle Hymn” soundtrack selections, “Einstein’s Dreams” concert suite, selections from “Camelot” and “Oklahoma,” Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Dance of the Clowns,” Webber’s “Symphonic Reflections.”