The first concert of a new season that honors the 125th anniversary of the 1889 Johnstown Flood also will recognize 30 years of leadership by the symphony’s conductor.
“Great Music for a Great City,” the 85th season of Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, will begin with “A Heroic Opening” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in Richland Township.
“We are proud to announce that the upcoming 85th season of concerts by the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra will emphasize the resilience and vitality of our great city,” said symphony board president Dennis McNair.
“In his 30th year as conductor and artistic director of the JSO, Maestro Istvan Jaray continues to bring the orchestra to new heights and to leave his indelible mark on the musical experience we all share.”
The opening concert will feature Beethoven’s powerful Symphony No. 3 “Eroica,” which has a special significance for Jaray.
“This will be a special evening for me since this symphony was the very first piece that I conducted when I came to Johnstown 30 years ago,” Jaray said.
“I would like to extend an open invitation to everyone to join me for this very special occasion and for an evening of great music.”
The concert will feature Britten’s “Matinees Musicales” and guest artist Robert Belinic.
“He is a world-renowned guitarist and will play Roberto Di Marino’s ‘Concerto for Guitar,’ ” Jaray said.
“It will be a Western Hemisphere premiere. I’m looking forward to the coming season with great anticipation. The entire season promises to be exciting and diverse.”
Born in 1981 in Zagreb, Croatia, Belinic is known for playing with passion, energy and charisma.
When he was 8 years old, he became a celebrity as the child star of “Tale from Croatia,” the first film released in the newly independent country.
Belinic began his study of classical guitar at age 11 at the music school in Kutina, continuing his studies in Zagreb.
He was the recipient of the 2002 Ivo Vuljevic Award for outstanding young Croatian musicians and was a prize winner of the 2006 Parkening International Guitar Competition in California.
Belinic was a founding member of the Croatian Guitar Quartet, and earned a master’s degree from the Leopold Mozart Hochschule für Musik in Augsburg, Germany, where he held a two-year assistantship.
He won the Young Concert Artists European auditions in Leipzig, Germany, and the Young Concert Artists International auditions in New York in 2002, the only guitarist chosen for the YCA roster.
Belinic made his New York debut at the 92nd Street Y, sponsored by the Claire Tow Debut Prize, and his Washington, D.C., debut at the Kennedy Center, sponsored by the Alexander Kasza-Kasser Prize.
He also debuted that season at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
Belinic was awarded the Fergus New Artist Prize of YCA and the Beracasa Foundation Prize for an appearance at the Montpellier Radio-France Festival.
He has performed extensively as a soloist and a collaborator.
A champion of new music, Belinic premiered YCA composer Chris Rogerson’s “Air for Solo Guitar” at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and recorded the premiere of a guitar concerto by Di Marino.
Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at Twitter.com/RuthRiceTD.
What: “A Heroic Opening” performed by Johnstown Symphony Orchestra.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.
Tickets: $37 and $32.
Information: 269-7200 or www.johnstownsymphony.org.