New World Symphony's Mini Concerts

This past November, Miami's New World Symphony held its first mini concerts at the Lincoln Theatre, and the sold-out crowd almost couldn't believe its ears — or wallets. Works by Maurice Ravel, Aaron Copland, and Samuel Barber performed live, each for less than the price of a latte? Clearly our town's orchestral academy had lost its well-defined mind.

Well, it hadn't. But the minds behind NWS did want to give all members of our community an opportunity to hear some of the world's most beautiful music, no matter where they weighed on the economic scale. Now that the scale has basically tipped over and broken to pieces, there's an even greater need for a reasonably priced evening. So this Friday night, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas's merry band of muses will return to the scene of the deal of the season, and do it all over again.

This time, we get works by Mozart, Handel, Bartók, and Brahms. And we get them all at their most romantic. In order of performance, there's Mozart's 1789 "Quintet for Clarinet and Strings" (which was used so touchingly in the last episode of M*A*S*H*). Next comes a program comprising Handel and Halverson's breathtaking "Passacaglia" (sometimes called "The Impossible Duet") as well as Bartók's three-piece "Contrasts" (originally commissioned by Benny Goodman). And last is Brahms's 1891 "Clarinet Quartet," which is about as sweepingly somber as romance gets. That's right: four pieces in three concerts for two-and-a-half bucks each. Hey, you can splurge and catch them all and still have spent only about the cost of a movie ticket.

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John Hood