The Prince William Symphony Orchestra begins its 15th season Saturday, intent on attracting people who know very little about classical music.
"We're trying to make them feel like they're not alone out there," said music director John Welsh, who has designed the second concert of the program of American music for those intimidated by classical music. On Saturday, the orchestra will play one of Aaron Copland's more popular pieces, "A Lincoln Portrait," as well as works by William Schuman, Charles Griffes and George Gershwin at Gar-Field High School, 14000 Smoketown Rd., near the Potomac Mills Mall.
During the first half of the second concert, on Nov. 7, Welsh will explain the workings of the orchestra, illustrating his points with music from Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite" and the scherzo from Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony. The second half of the program will include music by Sarasate and Mendelssohn.
Welsh credits the Prince William community with helping build the orchestra's audience and financial backing.
"The budget has grown tenfold in the last five or six years from $10,000 to over $100,000," he said. Season subscriptions topped 400 this year.
In January, the orchestra will perform an evening of Russian music, including Rimsky Korsakov's "Tsar Sultan Suite" and Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony ("Pathetique"). Christopher Harding, a pianist from Brentsville High School in Prince William, will play the 1st Piano Concerto by Prokofiev.
Music made popular by movies will be featured in the March concert. Mozart's 40th Symphony was played in "Amadeus," Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" accompanied the recent Vietnam War movie "Platoon," Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" was featured in a movie by the same name, and Mendelssohn's "Italian Symphony" was played in "Breaking Away."
All concerts will be at Gar-Field High School. Saturday's performance begins at 8 p.m. For more information, call (703) 494-6691.