It's the 104th season for classical music in Berks County as the Reading Symphony Orchestra kicks off Saturday with American pianist William Wolfram, the Berks Youth Chorus, and the Reading Choral Society women's chorus.

Music Director Andrew Constantine will conduct the symphony in "A Grand Night of Music," a concert of beloved works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Holst. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading.

Tchaikovsky's Polonaise, a spirited dance from "Eugene Onegin," will open Tchaikovsky's opera based on the classic novel by Alexander Pushkin. Wolfram will be featured in Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," and the Reading Choral Society women's chorus and female members of the Berks Youth Chorus will join for Holst's seven-movement sweeping tribute to the solar system, "The Planets."

Wolfram, a graduate of the Juilliard School, was a silver medalist at both William Kapell and Naumberg International Piano Competitions and a bronze medalist at the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. He is recognized as the rare concerto soloist equally versatile and adept as a recitalist, accompanist and chamber musician. His special focus is on the music of Franz Liszt and Beethoven.

Footnote: The Reading Symphony Orchestra partnered with the Reading School District this week to bring the Sweet Plantain Quartet in residence for middle and high school instrumental music students. The string quartet of classically trained Latino musicians is known for its fusion of western classical traditions with hip-hop, jazz improv, and Latin rhythms. The quartet will perform a community outreach concert featuring the Reading High School orchestra students on Friday at 8 p.m., in the Callowhill Ballroom at the DoubleTree Hotel, 701 Penn Street, Reading.

For further info: readingsymphony.org

ARTS ROUNDUP

It's a busy weekend ahead for Maestro Ronald Demkee as conductor for the opening of the Allentown Symphony pops series, "Lights, Camera... The Oscars!" on Saturday at Miller Symphony Hall, and for the St. John's Concert Series with the Allentown Band on Sunday at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Saturday's concert at Miller Symphony Hall, 23 North Sixth Street, Allentown at 7:30 p.m. will feature music from Academy Award-winning movies going back to the 1930s, with Broadway vocalists and husband-and-wife duo, Rob Gallagher and Marie Danvers. Selections will include "Titanic," "An Officer and a Gentleman," "Rocky," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Godfather," "Gone with the Wind," and "Chariots of Fire," plus lots more.

Sunday's concert at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Fifth & Walnut streets, Allentown, at 3 p.m. features a performance by Metropolitan Opera mezzo soprano Patricia Risley and women of the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts touring choir with Artistic Director David Macbeth, for Johan de Meij's "Symphony #4" (Sinfonie der Lieder/Symphony of Songs).

Footnote: The Touring Company is ranked on the INTERKULTUR World’s Top 100 Youth Choirs list in the division of Mixed Youth Choir following its gold medal rank, finishing third in the division, at the 2012 INTERKULTUR World Choir Games.


For further info: millersymphonyhall.org       allentownband.com

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The 29th annual Celtic Classic returns with a celebration of Celtic culture and heritage that includes education, traditional competitions in athletics, piping and dance, plus five stages of musical presentations featuring international, national and regional artists. The event is presented by the Celtic Cultural Alliance.

The slate of activities includes the Celtic Classic Invitational Pipe Band Competition, U.S. National Highland Athletic Championships, "Showing of the Tartan" parade, haggis competition, fiddle competition, Celtic crafts, and a kids craft tent.

Musical bands include Barleyjuice, Blackwater, Burning Bridget Cleary, Calan, Glengarry Bhoys, and the O'Grady-Quinlin Academy of Irish Dancers, and lots more.

Hours for Celtic Classic are Friday from 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For further info: celticfest.org

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More than 3,000 collegiate musicians will comprise what’s known as 'The World's Biggest Halftime Show' on Sunday at noon at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown, as the Collegiate Marching Band Festival returns for its 21st annual edition. Gates open at 11 a.m.

The 2016 festival brings together college and university bands from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region for an afternoon of music, marching and entertainment.

Marching bands include: Boston University, California University (Pennsylvania), Cheney University, Clarion University, East Stroudsburg University, Gettysburg College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown University, Lebanon Valley College, Lock Haven University, Mansfield University, Millersville University, Morgan State University, Shepherd University, Shippensburg University, Slippery Rock University, Towson University, West Chester University, University of Delaware, University of Massachusetts, University of Pittsburgh, and Wilkes University.

A new feature will be the Wells Fargo college fair, featuring information and representatives from a majority of the participating schools.

Footnote: The Cadets2 Drum & Bugle Corps, a program offering of Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) based in Allentown, won its first DCA World Championship title earlier this month in Rochester, New York. Cadets2 is a sister program to the 10-time DCI World Champion Cadets that compete each year in Allentown at the DCI Eastern Classic and also tour the country. Performers are under 21 years of age.

For further info: vivaceproductions.com           yea.org