By John Robert

     The Southern Great Lakes Symphony is off and running on an exciting second half of its 2012-2013 season.

     Much of the focus in the coming weeks will be on one of its major concerts/fundraisers, “Backstage Pass IV,” which is on its way to a brand new venue, moving from Wyandotte to Southgate.

     Offering an up-close, behind-the-scenes look at the orchestra amidst a fast-paced night of food, music, auctions and fun, Backstage Pass IV will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 15, at Crystal Gardens Banquet Center on Fort Street in Southgate — moving just a short distance from last year’s location, the Wyandotte Arts Center.

     Patrick Paddock, the SGLS chairperson for the event, is looking forward to some of the changes the move will bring.

     “It’s a much bigger venue, and keeps everyone on the same floor,” he said, which is expected to be an asset for the multifaceted event where attendees get to mingle with the musicians and take an active role in the performance portion of the evening by asking questions and seeing many of the backstage aspects of how a production is put together.

     Paddock said the event is geared toward fine music lovers of all ages, and is open to anyone who wants to attend.

     Attendees will be treated to a buffet of food and a non-alcoholic bar as part of the cost of admission. There also will be a cash bar serving alcoholic beverages.

     Everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to see and hear the symphony perform from perspectives that are not typically available.

     As for the SGLS concert season in general, the organization is in the midst of an exciting and transformational year, thanks in large part to some of the new ideas and perspectives infused by the organization’s new executive director, Aaron Kaleniecki, who is in his first full season at the helm.

     Mari Frost, a longtime board member and incoming president for SGLS, described Kaleniecki’s duties as “working with orchestra leadership and the board to organize and prepare for the season.”

     This includes both working with the music director on the artistic vision of the season and then helping to plan the marketing and promotion of those concerts.

     For example, Kaleniecki helped organize last year’s Downriver Idol contest, as well as the more recent Downriver Concerto Competition, which both drew interest from new sectors of the community.

     Kaleniecki has a degree in music from Wayne State University, and is the music director for St. Aloysius church in downtown Detroit, besides being a past board member and volunteer with SGLS.

     The new director exudes excitement about the organization’s potential and is working on new approaches to generate awareness about SGLS and attract new event attendees and members from throughout the region.

      “I want to recreate the symphony experience that attracts our present audience, but I also want to examine and try new models,” he said, which he hopes will bring in new audience who never would have considered going to an SGLS concert before.

     As an example, he cites performing music that is both recognizable across generations and challenging for the musicians in the symphony, such as the works of rock bands such as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin or The Moody Blues.

     He hopes to unearth the orchestral sounds that these bands utilized in order to strike a balance between traditional and nontraditional symphony music.

     If this can be accomplished, Kaleniecki hopes it will broaden the audience base, and bring fresh interest to the SGLS.

     Kaleniecki is looking forward to emceeing Backstage Pass IV, a role he has filled in the past, and hopes much of Downriver comes out to back the non-profit SGLS, which depends on donations and revenues from its concerts and fundraisers to operate.

     General admission tickets for Backstage Pass IV are $50. Businesses and individuals also can take a larger role in the event and provide additional support to the SGLS through VIP passes and other sponsorship opportunities that are available. The various sponsor packages are available for review at www.sgls.org, where tickets can also be ordered.    

     Those interested also may buy tickets by calling (734) 671-8343.

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