Category Archives: Music

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Announces 2014-15 Season

In an announcement led by President and CEO Stanley E. Romanstein, Ph.D., Music Director Robert Spano and Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has announced its 2014–15 season.

ASOThe season marks the 70th anniversary of the ASO and the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. It is also Mr. Spano’s and Mr. Runnicles’s 14th season as artistic partners.

The 24-week subscription season will feature world-class music of past centuries while paving the way for great music of the future with performances by today’s leading composers, soloists and conductors.

Among the highlights of the 2014-15 season:

• Three world premieres composed by Michael Gandolfi, Jonathan Leshnoff and Christopher Theofanidis

• Eleven Atlanta premieres

• A mini Beethoven festival led by Donald Runnicles

• Robert Spano to lead the Orchestra in Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila

• Guest artists and conductors including John Adams, Marin Alsop, Emanuel Ax, Cameron Carpenter, Jeremy Denk, Lynn Harrell, Leila Josefowicz, Miloš Karadaglic, Lang Lang, Midori, Marc Piollet, Jessica Rivera and Jean-Yves Thibaudet

• Robert Spano and the Orchestra will release a fifth recording on ASO media

• ASO will expand residencies with Kennesaw State University and the University of Georgia, visiting each university three times during the season

• ASO musicians will take center stage as soloists including principal clarinet Laura Ardan, concertmaster David Coucheron, principal percussion Thomas Sherwood and percussionist Charles Settle

• Free pre-concert chamber music series with ASO musicians will continue

• “First Friday” one-hour concerts will continue at 6:30 pm

Click here to view the 2014-15 season chronological listing (PDF)

For more on the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra visit

Symphony Gala to Be Held March 8

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will be joined by a Broadway superstar for an evening celebrating the city’s current and up-and-coming talents.

Audra McDonaldThe 4th annual Symphony Gala will be held on Saturday, March 8, 2014. The black tie event will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program. The program identifies musically-gifted and motivated African American and Latino instrumentalists and prepares them for acceptance into top music programs in preparation for careers as professional musicians.

The evening at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown will include a performance by Tony Award winner Audra McDonald. The Broadway star and television actress will perform popular selections and classical favorites with members of the ASO.

TDP member Jahleel SmithThe evening will begin at 6pm with a pre-concert cocktail reception in the Stent Atrium at the High Museum of Art. A seated dinner in the Taylor Lobby of the High Museum of Art will follow the performance in Atlanta Symphony Hall. A lounge-style after party in the Stent Atrium will feature ASO's Talent Development Programcocktails, coffee, desserts and live entertainment.

Throughout the evening guests will have the opportunity to bid on luxury items at a silent auction.

Ticket packages are on sale now and start at $1,000. Full details about the Symphony Gala and the ticket packages can be found at

Proceeds from the Symphony Gala will benefit the ASO and its education and community programs, which include the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and Talent Development Program, as well as support local partnerships that create a variety of musical and educational experiences for all ages.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 2014 Symphony Gala, Saturday, March 8th at 6pm. Woodruff Arts Center, 15th and Peachtree Streets in Midtown.

photo credits: Autumn de Wilde (Audra McDonald), Jeff Roffman (ASO Talent Development Program)

Snapshots from Atlanta’s Taste Revival

Atlanta's Taste Revival

The 12th annual Taste of Atlanta kicked off with Atlanta’s Taste Revival, an evening of great food and live music. Eighteen local chefs prepared a dish inspired by a favorite song.

Parker Smith and the Bandwith got the crowd dancing, and the all-chef band Five Bone Rack took the stage for a special set.

Click here to watch highlights from the 2013 Taste of Atlanta

The AG’s cameras caught all the action. Click photos below to enlarge.

Oyster Cook-Off at The Hangout in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Love oysters or think you make the best oyster dish around? Then you’ll want to visit Gulf Shores, Alabama on November 9th for the Gulf Coast Oyster Cook-Off.

Oyster Cook-Off at The HangoutNow in its 6th year, the Oyster Cook-Off is presented by Alabama Gulf Seafood and held at The Hangout, a family-friendly spot just steps from the beach. Entry is free, and tasting tickets may be purchased for $2 each or $30 for a book of 20 tickets.

At the cook-off chefs and amateurs will compete for bragging rights and big bucks – $10,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded. More than 65 chefs will be participating, including Atlanta chefs Adam Evens of The Optimist, Ron Eyester of Rosebud, Bob McDonough from F&H Food Trading Group and Mimmo Alboumeh of Red Pepper Taqueria.

Oyster Cook-OffThink you have what it takes to compete? For an entry fee you can show off your best Rockefeller, Cajun or raw oyster dish. The dishes will be judged by attendees and a panel of celebrity judges. The fee to enter is $300 and the deadline is October 18th. Click here for more information on the entry Oyster Cook-Offand judging rules.

Teams must be on site by 9am on Saturday, November 9th and ready to serve at 10am. The event opens to the public at 11am.

In addition to all the oysters you can eat, there will be live music and football shown on big screens.

Click here to see photographs from the 2012 Oyster Cook-Off.

The Hangout also hosts a music festival in May.

The 6th Annual Oyster Cook-Off, Saturday, November 9th at 11am at The Hangout, 101 East Beach Boulevard, Gulf Shores, Alabama 36542.

photos from The Hangout’s Flickr page

Taste of Atlanta 2012


With delicious food, live music and a chance to mingle with some of Atlanta’s best chefs, Grills Gone Wild was the place to be Friday night. At this kickoff party for Taste of Atlanta guests enjoyed brisket, ribs, pork, shrimp and tacos, accompanied by wine, beer and cocktails.

In between sets of Yacht Rock Schooner’s cool ’70s music, the all chef band 5 Bone Rack took the stage. Chefs Jamie Adams (Veni Vidi Vici), Ford Fry (JCT and The Optimist), Ted Lahey (Table & Main), Gary Mennie (High Cotton), and Zeb Stevenson (Livingston Restaurant + Bar) demonstrated that their talents extend beyond the restaurant kitchen.

Grills Gone Wild offered a taste of the food-filled weekend to come. On Saturday and Sunday hundreds of people packed Tech Square where they sampled small bites from more than 80 restaurants. At seminars and cooking demonstrations, guests learned techniques to use in their own kitchens.

Now in its 11th year, Taste of Atlanta continues to show why it is the city’s premier food, wine, beer and cocktail festival.

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Party at Ponce: A Celebration for Ponce City Market


More than 2,000 people joined some of Atlanta’s favorite chefs on October 1st at Party at Ponce, a celebration at the future home of Ponce City Market.

The former Sears, Roebuck and Co. distribution center on Ponce De Leon Avenue Northeast is set to undergo a massive overhaul, transforming the 2 million square foot structure into Atlanta’s next premiere shopping and dining destination.

The open area where guests feasted will one day be restaurant and retail space.

Ponce City Market will house an indoor food hall and stores on the lower levels, and office and residential space above.

For Chef Jay Swift, whose restaurant 4th and Swift is across the street on North Avenue, the Ponce City Market will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

“This is the renaissance of the Old 4th Ward, this is what we were waiting for,” said Chef Swift.  “I’m sure there will be lots of great businesses in here, there’s going to be jobs, and lots of opportunities in the neighborhood, and it’s just great.”

Ponce City Market is being developed by Jamestown and Green Street Properties, whose past projects have included Chelsea Market in New York City and White Provision on the west side of Atlanta.

Chef Ford Fry of JCT Kitchen has been a part of the revitalized Westside district.

“The Westside has been huge, it’s really turned that area,” said Chef Fry.  “Now as far as here, I mean it’s just going to be amazing.  This is the biggest development I think the city has seen in I don’t know how long.  It’s just going to be incredible.”

Cooler temperatures didn’t deter people from enjoying food trucks parked outdoors or performances by the Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins and Francine Reed.

Party at Ponce was a chance to tour the Sears building before it is shut for renovation – and to imagine what the Ponce City Market will look like.

The development of Ponce City Market is expected to be complete in early 2014.

Saturday’s event benefited the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and Georgia Organics and raised $80,000 for the two organizations.

Symphony Gala Celebrates One of Atlanta's Best Attractions

If you think amps are needed in order for a musical performance to be electrifying, you haven’t heard the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

There’s just something about listening to and watching the ASO – the incredibly talented musicians and singers, the history in each composition, the intensity and emotion that can be conveyed through the crescendos and adagios – that gives you chills.

A number of Symphony enthusiasts came together Friday night for the Symphony Gala.  Held at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead, the event featured a performance by trumpeter Chris Botti.

The gala performance was a bit more “plugged in” than other symphony performances.  Botti played a mix of jazz and pop, with a five member band that included an electric guitarist and bassist.  Botti too looked the part of a rock star, with his spiky frosted hair.  It’s not often that you hear women’s high-pitched screams of adoration at symphony events.

Watch Chris Botti perform at the Symphony Gala below

One of the more memorable parts of Botti’s performance was when he was joined on stage by Lisa Fischer.  The Grammy Award-winning singer wowed the audience with her unbelievable vocal range, perfectly matching Botti’s trumpet note-for-note.

In addition to celebrating the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the gala benefited ASO’s education and outreach initiatives.  Proceeds from the event will go to the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Talent Development Program, as well as outreach partnerships that enable Atlanta Symphony musicians to interact with local students.

Now is the best time to discover (or rediscover) the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  There are performances every week, with ticket prices starting in the $20 to $25 range.  You can also compose your own concert series – choose four or more performances and tickets start at $19 a seat.

If it is your first time attending a performance, the Atlanta Symphony has a handy guide on what to expect.

For more information on the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra visit

A Musical Safari at Ultra

“Ultra is like going on safari.”

An interesting and accurate observation from, who I got to chat with after his Friday night performance at the two day music festival in downtown Miami.

As explained to me, on a safari you’re not sure where you’re going or what kind of animals you’re going to see.  It’s similar to Ultra Music Festival, where you’re not exactly sure what you’re going to hear or where the music is going to take you.  The DJs are in charge, controlling and channeling the emotions and energy of the crowd.

It’s something unique to electronic music.  As put it, this doesn’t happen in pop music or in rap music because people go to those concerts to hear songs they know.  But with electronic music people come with an open mind and let the DJs be their tour guides.’s thoughtful analogy got me thinking.  While the DJs may be the tour guides on the safari, it’s the crowds of people that can be fun to watch.  Electronic music brings together people from all over the world, with different cultures, incomes, ages and styles of dress.  At Ultra I saw clothes ranging from polo shirts and baseball hats to goth garb and rave gear.  It’s an eclectic group that’s welcoming to everyone.  No one is there to judge — they’re just there to listen to DJs, dance and have a great time.

Certainly it’s this electricity of the crowds that made want to return to Ultra after last year’s performance with the Black Eyed Peas.  And this year’s crowd was bigger than ever.  For the first time ever both Friday and Saturday were sold out, with about 100,000 people attending over the two days.

From the pumping bass that leaves your ears ringing, to the bright lights that flash and change colors, Ultra is sensory overload.  This year there were more than 200 DJs performing on 16 stages, which made for some tough decisions.  Too often I wanted to see two or more different artists who happened to be scheduled at the same time on different stages.

I knew I couldn’t miss Kaskade, whose song “I Remember” I love for its light and bouncy, almost ethereal sound (he included it in his high energy set).  From there I ran to the Main Stage to catch David Guetta, then The Crystal Method at the Bayfront Live Stage, then Carl Cox at the Carl Cox & Friends Arena, finally capping off the aural smorgasbord back at the Main Stage with Tiësto, who demonstrated why he’s one of the top DJs in the world.

On Saturday I really enjoyed longtime favorites Sasha & John Digweed, as well as Armin van Buuren who seemed to have a big smile on his face the entire set.  I also spent a lot of time in the UMF Brazil Arena which took over the space of last year’s Drum and Bass tent.  Their Saturday night lineup was hard to beat: Above & Beyond, then ATB, then Paul Oakenfold.

Because I was dancing all day and night I didn’t feel so bad about indulging on several not so healthy foods at the international food pavilion.  From fish and chips to burgers, pizza to arepas, gyros to shish kabobs, there was an impressive selection.  I went for the turkey legs, which were the biggest ones I’ve ever seen (and quite tasty too).

Of course I was most excited for Saturday night’s headliner, deadmau5.  It’s been neat to watch the Canadian DJ and producer’s popularity grow over the last few years.  I remember watching him at Ultra 2008 and wondering how his name was pronounced (it’s dead mouse).  Back then he performed on a small side stage, with a much more simple mouse head.  Last year his set was one of my favorite performances from Ultra 2009.  Since then it seems like all the songs he’s produced have been huge hits.  They’ve certainly been in heavy rotation on my iPod, especially “Ghosts n Stuff.”

deadmau5 got the audience revved up right away, with many fans waving their own mouse heads.  He premiered a few new songs during his set.  For one as of yet unnamed song he was joined by Tommy Lee.  I had suspected the Mötley Crüe drummer might make a surprise appearance when I saw the two hanging out a day earlier at the Belvedere Vodka Music Lounge.

The crowd went crazy when deadmau5 played the first few notes of “Ghosts N Stuff.”  It was a definite fan favorite, and I joined the tens of thousands in cheering.  deadmau5 worked the energy of the crowd all the way until the end of his set, when he (appropriately enough) played the death sound effect from “Super Mario Brothers.”

Game on for Ultra 2011.

Click here to see more photos from Ultra Music Festival 2010

Inside WMC: Belvedere Music Lounge

During the 2010 Winter Music Conference I hopped between parties on South Beach, danced in the sand at Nikki Beach and listened to some of the best DJs in the electronic music scene at Ultra.  Out of all these my favorite experience was hanging out at the Belvedere Vodka Music Lounge.

Belvedere Music LoungeHosted by SIRIUS XM Radio and held outside at the posh W Hotel, the music lounge featured an impressive array of DJs whose performances and interviews were broadcast live on Area (SIRIUS channel 38 and XM channel 80).

It wasn’t just hanging out at a swanky spot near the Belvedere Music Loungeocean and sipping Belvedere cocktails that made the experience.  It was getting to be just steps away from some of the biggest DJs in the world.

I couldn’t help but feel starstruck — there I was, watching DJs whom I’ve listened to for years perform right in front of me.  Even with the music blasting from the speakers the lounge felt so intimate.  It was like a secret club for VIPs that I had been allowed to enter.

When I walked into the Belvedere Music Lounge I saw on stage a man with dirty blond hair and a red shirt.  I got a little bit closer and realized it was Ferry Corsten!  The Dutch DJ is currently ranked number 7 in DJ Magazine‘s list of the Top 100 DJs.

Ferry CorstenAs I walked even closer to the stage Ferry looked up at me.  I smiled and gave him a small wave; he flashed a smile right back at me.  I looked around at the dozen or so other guests in amazement, feeling absolutely thrilled that I was part of this special experience.  Here was a guy who plays for tens of thousands of people on a regular basis — and right then it felt like he was playing just for me.

As Ferry was winding down, a man with black hair and sunglasses got on stage to start setting up for his own set.  He was soon joined by another guy wearing a white t-shirt that said “Fix News” in a style similar to Fox News’ logo.

The Crystal MethodWere my eyes playing tricks on me?  I looked again.  Yes, I was seeing things correctly.  There, less than 10 feet in front of me were Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland of The Crystal Method.

On the tiny stage without any flashing lights or smoke machines, the two looked like normal guys rocking out to the music and having lots of fun.  It was so neat to see them in this small and casual setting; and such a different feeling than their performance later that evening for thousands of fans at Ultra.  Click here for a photo of The Crystal Method at Ultra

deadmau5 & Tommy LeeAll of a sudden I saw a flash of tattoos breeze by me, headed for the stage.  I recognized Tommy Lee (of Mötley Crüe and Pamela Anderson fame) right away, and then checked out who he came in with.  It turned out to be none other than Joel Zimmerman aka deadmau5, my current favorite DJ.  Surrounded by a small entourage they said hi to the guys from The Crystal Method, posed for some pictures, then headed off to an interview for SIRIUS XM Radio.

Had I been able to spend more time at the Belvedere Music Lounge I would have seen deadmau5 perform, as well as numerous other DJs who played for massive crowds at Ultra and other events throughout the WMC.  As I was leaving the lounge I felt like kicking myself for committing to too many other events.

Note to self for WMC 2011: make sure to clear plenty of time to hang out at the Belvedere Music Lounge.  The experience of listening to world famous DJs up close is not to be missed.

Snapshots from Ultra Music Festival 2010

More than 200 DJs and a sold out crowd of about 100,000 people helped make the 2010 Ultra Music Festival the biggest and best yet.

The 12th edition of the festival rocked Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami with Tiësto headlining on Friday night and Deadmau5 on Saturday night.  Performing on 16 stages over the two days were internationally renowned DJs and artists including David Guetta, The Crystal Method, Kaskade, Paul Oakenfold and Armin van Buuren.

Here are some snapshots from Ultra 2010.  Click on photos to enlarge. 

Click here to see why compares Ultra to going on a safari



Root Society Dome

Boyz Noise vs. Erol Alkan

crowds at Ultra

Ultra main stage

Carl Cox & Friends Arena

Carl Cox




Armin van Buuren

The Crystal Method

The Crystal Method




behind the stage during Deadmau5