RSO presents final Classics Concert May 8: ‘Symphony & Cinema’ features sounds of Coronado’s Grande Barton organ

Music Director Steven Larsen and the Rockford Symphony Orchestra will capture the essence of musical storytelling in “Symphony & Cinema” at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 8, in the Coronado Theatre. This is the final Classics Concert of the 2003-04 season.

The centerpiece of the concert is the premiere of Michael Daugherty’s Once Upon A Castle, commissioned by the RSO and a consortium of orchestras from across the country. The first work of its kind for theater organ and orchestra, the piece features Robert Bates, organist at Rockford’s Second Congregational Church, at the helm of the Coronado Theatre’s mighty Grande Barton organ. The concert opens with Jennifer Higdon’s “Blue Cathedral” and concludes with Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2.

“I wanted to compose a piece that would combine my passion for contemporary concert music with cinema, and the Hearst Castle in San Simeon seemed the perfect metaphor to combine the two,” says composer Michael Daugherty. “Randolph Hearst was a bigger-than-life figure who built larger-than-life structures, like the castle.

“Then there’s the famous Citizen Kane film by Orson Welles, which is inspired by Randolph Hearst and his mistress, Marian Davies, the silent movie actress from the 1930s,” Daugherty continues. “Having the organ with the orchestra has allowed me to hearken back to those days and write a larger-than-life piece in which I pull out all the stops.”

Michael Daugherty is one of the most performed and commissioned American composers of his generation. Born in 1954 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Daugherty is the son of a dance-band drummer and the oldest of five brothers, all professional musicians. He has created a niche in the music world that is uniquely his own, composing concert music inspired by contemporary American popular culture.

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra offers a free pre-concert lecture with Steven Larsen and Michael Daugherty prior to the concert. This unique and engaging talk is open to all ticket holders, and designed to enhance the concert-going experience by providing insight into the music and the composers. Pre-concert lectures begin at 7 p.m. in the Coronado Theatre.

Tickets for “Symphony & Cinema” are available by calling the Rockford Symphony Orchestra box office at (815) 965-0049. Ticket prices are $15, $28 and $36. This concert is part of the Conflux Design Classics Series. For more information about this concert or other RSO performances, please call (815) 965-0049, or visit the Web site at

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