October 24 marks the opening of Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s eighth season of redefining the orchestral concert experience for patrons throughout Northwest Florida. The season opening concert continues this tradition by combining a unique orchestral concerto, paired with familiar orchestral showpieces that feature the talented musicians of Sinfonia and a world-class guest artist.

As one of four recipient orchestras nationwide, Sinfonia was awarded a generous grant from the Hanyi Corporation to present the regional premier of “Identity: Zhongshang Zhuang.” The piece is a concerto for the guzheng, a 3,800-year-old Chinese zither instrument and orchestra and features internationally renowned soloist Su Chang.

“Identity: Zhongshang Zhuang” was commissioned in 2009 by Hanyi Inc. and co-composed by American composer Michael Gordon Shapiro and Chinese producer/composer Victor Cheng, in an effort to combine the musical traditions of Western and Chinese culture in a piece that would be accessible to international audiences.

A romantic orchestral concerto setting provides the backdrop to showcase the guzheng's mesmerizing timbre and lightning agility in a unique blend of the familiar and the exotic. “Identity” is programmatic, evoking a fictional but all-too real story of a family separated by the Chinese civil war. The three movements correspond to the outbreak of war, the desolation of a former officer isolated from his family, and the triumphant reunion generations later.

Internationally renowned Su Chang began study of the guzheng at age 6, and has performed both as soloist and in accompaniment to orchestras worldwide. Her notable engagements include being a featured soloist in the YouTube Symphony orchestra's 2010 concert in Sydney under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas, and a personal invitation from Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun to perform in the 2012 Zurich premiere of a new work.

In recent years, she has performed in the U.S.A., Austria, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau. Chang has also participated in many international cultural exchange programs and performed with world-renowned orchestras such as the Young Euro Classic Orchestra from Berlin, and the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. In addition, she has performed with many outstanding orchestras in China such as the Tianjin Orchestra, the Hebei Symphony Orchestra, the China National Symphony Orchestra, the Beijing Symphony Orchestra and the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also performed with Grammy-winning artist Kitaro, and tours internationally with the pop/Chinese folk ensemble The Viva Girls.

Also on the concert are Antonin Dvorak’s energetic “Carnival Overture” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s brilliantly scored and beloved orchestral suite “Scheherazade.” The overture was written to depict the zest of life and is full of pulsing rhythms and charming melodies, concluding in a brisk, exciting finale. “Scheherazade,” based on the tales of “Arabian Nights,” explores the world of orchestral color, fairy tales and legends in general, and more particularly tales from exotic cultures, distant in both time and place.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please go to www.SinfoniaGulfCoast.org or call (850) 269-7129