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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, September 21, 2017 1:00 am

New series bringing in star power

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

If you go

What: Joshua Bell in Concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28

Where: Embassy Theatre, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Admission: $29, $45, $57 and $72; or 481-0777

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic launches its 2017-18 season next week with the inaugural concert of a series that will bring a world-renowned musician to the Embassy Theatre stage each year.

Violinist Joshua Bell is the first performer to be featured in the Robert, Carrie and Bobbi Steck Family Foundation Great Performers Series.

“Over the last five or 10 years, we haven't presented artists of incredible international renown, and we thought that was sort of a hole in the offering of the Philharmonic,” says James Palermo, managing director of the Philharmonic.

Filling that hole was addressed during the Philharmonic's recent strategic planning process. Palermo says bringing internationally recognized performers to Fort Wayne will engage current donors and music lovers while attracting a new audience.

The idea of showcasing an artist of high caliber once a year resonated with the Steck Family Foundation.

“They decided that would be a good fit for them and that (the series) really offered something really very special and unique to the community,” Palermo says.

Bell has appeared internationally in magazines, on TV and in movies, creating star power that makes him a natural fit for the series.

“He plays with the very best conductors and orchestras in the world,” Palermo says.

He says the Philharmonic's performers are excited about what the orchestra is offering to the community with the series.

“It makes them feel great that the Philharmonic's performing with someone of that quality,” Palermo says. “It clearly is inspiring to them to have an artist of that renown.

“I think it inspires them to play even better. You want to play up to that level, right?”

The program for the Sept. 28 performance includes two pieces by British composer Edward Elgar, who is featured on the album “Elgar: The New England Connection” released this summer by the Philharmonic's music director, Andrew Constantine. Constantine will conduct the show, which also features pieces by Leonard Bernstein.

The Philharmonic is working to finalize next year's “equally renowned” performer for the new series. Palermo says there is a relatively short list of internationally famed classical musicians, but “great performers” is a broad term, and there is the opportunity to step outside the world of classical music.

He doesn't think the local orchestra will have problems finding world-class artists willing to come to Fort Wayne for the series.

“Fort Wayne Philharmonic has a very good reputation nationally within the music industry,” he says.