SoNA to perform ‘The Great Unknown’ Jan. 20

Photo: Courtesy, SoNA

SoNA will venture into ‘The Great Unknown’ for their next performance, set for Saturday, Jan. 20 at Walton Arts Center.

The show will feature performances of William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, Samuel Barber’s Symphony No. 1, and George Gershwin’s An American In Paris.

SoNA had planned to include a performance of Aldo López-Gavilán‘s Oceans to Cross, as part of the show, but a family emergency for the featured soloist for that portion of the program led to the addition of An American in Paris, SoNA music director Paul Haas said.

“This program change was obviously completely out of the blue, but it gave me a chance to rethink the concert, to make it as good as it could possibly be,” Haas said. “When (SoNA Executive Director) Ben Harris called me up to tell me the news, I immediately suggested An American in Paris, because it’s a perfect fit. Not only was it written during the same decade as the Barber and the Dawson, and not only is it vintage American, but it’s a great emotional counterbalance to those two pieces: fun and jaunty, as opposed to massive and overpowering.”

From the description of the show:

SoNA kicks off 2024 with a program of notable pieces by a trio of great American composers who were all working in the 1930’s. The new centerpiece of The Great Unknown is An American in Paris by the illustrious George Gershwin, who once referred to the jazz-influenced symphonic poem as “humorous, light, and jolly, a series of impressions musically expressed…nothing solemn about it.” Inspired by the time Gershwin had spent in Paris, and evoking the sights and energy of the French capital during the Roaring ‘20s, An American in Paris first premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1928. 

The evening’s program will also feature Samuel Barber’s unforgettable Symphony No. 1 and William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony – a timeless yet rarely heard work based on themes from Black spirituals, which originally premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1934.  

SoNA is working to reschedule the Oceans to Cross performance, hopefully as part of the 2024-25 season, officials said.

Tickets to the show range from $36-61, on sale now at

For more information, including a sampling of the music for the Jan. 20 performance, visit the show preview page here.