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Symphony honors American music

Come see the Albany Symphony Orchestra take the classic out of classical music. If "classic" refers to traditional, old, and European, that is.

With three events in the next 10 days, which are part of the month-long American Music Festival sponsored by Key Bank, the symphony will perform no less than eight world premieres of American music with such nontraditional accoutrements as poetry, video and (gasp) amplification.

The first, on Thursday, March 22, is called "Composing from the Inside Out" and is a chance to meet two composers, Peter Childs and George Tsontakis, whose music will be played by the symphony in a concert two days later.

"It's for anyone who's ever been interested in how composers compose," said ASO's Musical Director David Alan Miller. "This is a really neat chance to climb inside the head of a living composer."

Through a question-and-answer session with the audience, Childs and Tsontakis will talk about their process and the compositions to be performed, said Miller. After the discussion, the symphony will rehearse the pieces, during which conductor and composers will wear microphones so that the audience can watch and hear as they bring the pieces to life.

"We try to feature composers who want to and need to and believe in communicating," said Miller. "This is a way to break down the barriers between composers and audiences even more than usual."

"Composing from the Inside Out" will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Arts Center for the Capital Region in Troy. The rehearsal will take place at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Tickets are $20 from ASO ( 465-4755, www.albanysymphony.com).

Saturday, March 24, will bring "Casual Night at the Symphony," which opens with two melodramas by celebrated film composer, Bernard Herrmann. Miller said the melodramas, which are spoken word with music, represent "a really old form that's rarely explored." The program will close with an excerpt from Hermann's film score for the Hitchcock film "North by Northwest."

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