Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra hosts “Symphonic Stories”

Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra hosts “Symphonic Stories”

Howard Performing Arts Center

4160 E. Campus Circle Dr., Berrien Springs, MI

Sunday, April, 24, 2022, at 4pm


In the “Symphonic Stories” Mainstage Concert, the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra will feature musical director finalist Timothy Verville as the conductor for an afternoon of classic tales.


The SMSO presents an afternoon of stories brought to life through great music. This symphonic storybook features classic tales that we all know and love. 


In addition to the performance at 4 pm, patrons are invited to apre-concert conversation with the conductor, Verville, at 3 pm.


The music for the program is as follows:


Overture to Hansel and Gretel                       Humperdinck

            Featuring members of the Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra

Five Selected Songs                                       Mahler

            Featuring Evgenia Pirshina, contralto

ScheherazadeOp.35                                      Rimsky-Korsakov


SMSO Music Director Finalist Verville, said the music for the performance is based on literary writings which are presented in a way in which only music can connect to the audience.

“We begin the performance with music from the opera, Hansel and Gretel, a familiar story to everyone,” he said. “The overture moves from the grand themes through the tender prayer and back again.”


Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra conductor Burke Lokey said members of the LMYO will perform side by side with members of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra for this musical piece.


The symphony will share the magical Mahler pieces and show a side of Mahler that many don’t have an opportunity to experience, Verville said, adding that many of Mahler’s ideas for his large-scale symphonies originate in the simple songs he composed for piano or smaller ensembles.


Also featured will be Evgenia Pirshina, a contralto based in Chicago, who has been highly acclaimed for the unique quality of her timbre and acting ability.


Verville said he first worked with Pirshina at an opera gala in Panama and that she is an artist who is not only confident, but also bold and who possesses a distinct subtlety in her performances. “From powerful to vulnerable, we will be treated to experiencing the wide range she can portray in the variety of selected songs from Mahler,” Verville said.


A natural actress and a singer, Pirshina is a winner in international vocal competitions and has performed in Solis Theater (Montevideo, 2019), Chicago Opera Theater (Chicago, 2018), National Opera America Center (NYC, 2018), Opera Panama (Panama-City, 2016-2021), Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theater (Moscow, 2006-2015). Since 2017, she is a soloist of the Opera Aeterna Chicago, actively performing in different venues in Chicago. 


While Verville said he recognizes that this performance is part of the music director search, and the person on the podium becomes the “de facto focal point” at this type of concert, he wanted to shine a light on and feature several of the musicians in the orchestra.

“Rimsky-Korsakov’s stunning Scheherazade provides several instrumental solos throughout, including the concertmaster who portrays Scheherazade, herself,” he said.

Event details:

What:“Symphonic Stories”

Where:The Howard Performing Arts Center, Andrews University, Berrien Springs

            *Per the Howard Performing Arts Center, Masks are optional  for this event*

When: Sunday, April 24, 2022

·        3 pm - Pre-concert conversation with the conductor

·        4 pm - The concert begins

Ticketsare $20/$35; student tickets are $5. They are available online, by calling the SMSO office at 269-982-4030 or in person at 513 Ship St., St. Joseph. 

Sponsors: The Symphony is only able to present events with the support of the community. While their support takes many forms, we are particularly grateful for our event sponsors:Spectrum Health Lakeland, The Herald-Palladium, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, and PBS of Michiana.


Verville’s performances are innovative, imaginative, and musically engaging which position him as a uniquely, multifaceted and multi-talented conductor of the modern orchestral world.


Internationally, this season marks his debuts with Opera Panama and the Panamanian National Symphony Orchestra, and in Russia with the Far Eastern Symphony Orchestra. In Japan he has appeared at the Kyushu International Festival, and with the Kyushu Symphony Orchestra, Hita Civic Orchestra, the Chikushi Jogakuen Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Kyushu

Philharmonic Orchestra.


He has guest conducted orchestras and theater ensembles across the U.S. including the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. In his fourth season as Music Director and Conductor of the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Verville has energized audiences while increasing and diversifying concert offerings.


His strong focus on audience engagement and outreach is recognized throughout the community and in the League of American Orchestras Symphony magazine. His creative and collaborative programming has expanded the organization’s performance footprint and served to build bridges into underrepresented populations. In addition to conducting classics, pops, and special performances, he designs the Sensory Friendly concerts which have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2007, Verville began a relationship with the Boston Chamber Orchestra that would encompass over a decade of music making.


Beginning as an instrumentalist in the orchestra, he was asked to become Associate Conductor and later Principal Guest Conductor. He recorded music by Vaughan Williams for the orchestra’s 2013 international CD release. In Phoenix, he served from 2010-2017 as the founding Artistic Director and Conductor of Arizona Pro Arte. His presentations of unique and highly anticipated collaborative events resulted in exponential organizational and audience growth including numerous sold out performances. During this time the orchestra grew to include a regular masterworks season, a summer orchestral series, educational performances, a chamber music

program, a dance ensemble, and established a composer in residence. He instituted an annual “Call for Scores” competition that at its height received over 920 applicants from forty countries in a single season. Additional previous engagements include Music Director and Conductor of the North Valley Chamber Orchestra (AZ), Scottsdale Baroque Orchestra (AZ), and Conductor of the Pollard Theatre (OK). Verville commissions and conducts regional, national, and world premiere compositions which have encompassed operatic and symphonic music. He has counseled young and emerging composers across the country and worked with the Tucson Symphony’s Young Composers Project, which Yo-Yo Ma praised as an “extraordinary program.”


An award winner in the American Prize for Orchestral Performance, Verville was mentored by esteemed conductors James DePreist, Bruce Hangen, Timothy Russell, and additionally worked in masterclasses with David Effron, Markand Thakar, and Neil Varon. At the renowned Monteux School and Music Festival, Verville was selected as an orchestral assistant while studying with Michael Jinbo. He earned degrees in music from the University of Oklahoma, Arizona State University, and the Boston Conservatory. Timothy Verville resides in Georgia with his wife and two children.