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New Philharmonia Orchestra Kicks of 18th Season in Newton [PHOTOS]

The orchestra will hold a special gala fundraiser this Saturday, Oct. 13, at Gregorian Rugs.

The 2012 opening night for Newton's New Philharmonia Orchestra will include mystery, intrigue and -- that's right -- murder.

There will also be a bit of humor and, of course, music.

The local orchestra, which turns 18 this season, will be holding its Opening Night at the Symphony Gala Fundraiser this Saturday, Oct. 13, at Gregorian Rugs in Newton Lower Falls. The evening will include a performance of Nathaniel Stookey's "The Composer is Dead," a piece written for orchestra that is coupled with narration based on a book by Lemony Snicket. 

"It's a very entertaining piece," says NPO Music Director Ronald Knudsen. 

The piece, which will feature narration by Boston-area actor Jake Berger, features an inspector trying to find the guilty party behind the murder of a composer. As the piece progresses, the inspector moves through the different sections of the orchestra, featuring each instrument family while simultaneously accusing those instruments of murdering the composer. 

The lighthearted piece is just one part of this Saturday's opening night gala fundraiser. The evening, which starts at 7:30 p.m., will be a real "musical party" with international music groups, a cocktail reception, food and classical music trivia.

"It's the first time [the NPO] is doing an event like this," says NPO Associate Director Kara Robbins. 

In addition to the fundraising aspect of the event, the evening will also be a chance for local residents to meet the orchestra in an intimate and unique setting. 

"The [Gregorian Rugs] space is just incredible," Robbins adds. "If you don't get a chair, you can sit on a stack of $10,000 rugs."

Tickets for Saturday's event are $50 and available online

Once the orchestra launches its season Saturday, the NPO has a number of concerts in store for the year, including three "Classics" concerts and three shows in its Family Discovery Series.

Each concert in the 2012-2013 season will have a theme, Knudsen says. For example, the NPO's second concert in March is titled "Memories of Italy" and will feature three pieces by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi.

The November "Duo of Threes" concert will include Schumann's Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish" as well as Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring 2011 Boston International Piano Competition winner Abel Sanchez Aguilera.

[Aguilera] is just wonderful," Knudsen says.

A number of special concerts are also planned for the season, Knudsen says, including a program in February featuring musicians from the local Chinese community and a chamber music concert in June.

This season will also continue the NPO's Discovery Series, with three family-oriented concerts planned for December, January and April. During each of the Discovery Series concerts, the NPO breaks down the music "so it is accessible for kids," Robbins says.

"The program is about an hour and is easy for kids of all ages," Robbins adds. "It includes really interactive, high energy performances." 

The December concert, Robbins says, will be "more magical than before" with performances from the All City Honors Treble Singers, the Boston Ballet School and of course, the NPO.

As always, the family concerts will also include the "instrument petting zoo" -- a post-concert event where kids have a chance to try out all the different instruments featured in the orchestra. 

"It's really fun to watch," Robbins says. "You get the best Kodak moments."

For more information on the NPO's concert programs, times and tickets visit the NPO's website.

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