By Blake Herzog
The Arizona Philharmonic has drawn professional musicians from across the state to perform classical standards and lesser-known gems, mostly in Prescott, since it debuted in 2018.
Most of its concerts have been at the Jim and Linda Lee Performing Arts Center at Yavapai College but this year its sixth season is the first of at least three to be based in a theater on another academic campus — the Ruth Street Theater, at Prescott High School.
AZ Phil Executive Director Henry Flurry says the newly upgraded facility fits many of the orchestra’s needs.
“The hall offers great acoustics, a beautiful viewing angle for nearly every seat, and a closer connection to the audience,” he says. “The ability to rehearse on stage and increased flexibility in scheduling future seasons helps our operations. Perhaps most exciting, we are thrilled to be collaborating on meaningful outreach to the music departments of Prescott Unified School District.”
The orchestra’s Ruth Street debut was Sept. 10, during which it performed two pieces written with second graders in the Prescott district during a collaboration with the Highlands Center. AZ Phil will be sending its musicians into high school music classrooms and creating professional-level training and performance opportunities for students, Flurry says.
The 700-seat theater has had a few makeovers since opening 30 years ago, most recently after district officials consulted with local performing groups, including AZ Phil, on how they could upgrade the venue to broaden its appeal. They responded with new paint, carpet and sound and lighting systems. Parking lot entrances without steps also were added.
“We find the acoustics the best of any large venue in town,” Flurry says.
Amy Van Winkle, PUSD Community Theater Events Manager says, “There is not a bad seat in the house,” and accessibility improvements including more entrances without steps will help many attendees.
Eight of the 63 musicians playing in the orchestra this season live in Greater Prescott, along with five from Flagstaff. The majority hail from the Phoenix area.
Upcoming Prescott shows include a showcase of the orchestra’s principal flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon and French horn players; a holiday concert featuring AZ Phil chamber musicians with three soprano singers; renowned pianist Anton Nel with the orchestra; pianist James D’León with three principal string players; and the Quartz Ensemble, a professional vocal group, with the full orchestra.
AZ Phil is seeking a partner to help fund a three-show series in Prescott Valley and other performances are in the planning stages,
Upcoming 2023-24 Season Concerts
Performances at Ruth Street Theater and Fine Arts Complex, 1050 Ruth St., Prescott, unless noted otherwise. Tickets available at www.azphil.org/concerts.
Nov. 18 – Sonoran Winds @ The Kerr Center (Scottsdale) (AZ Phil’s five principal woodwinds players)
Nov. 19 – Sonoran Winds
Dec. 17 – We Wish You Christmas
Jan. 7, 2024 – Anton Nel & AZ Phil
Feb. 17, 2024 – James D’León & Friends @ The Kerr Center (Scottsdale)
Feb. 18, 2024 – James D’León & Friends
March 24, 2024 – Quartz Ensemble