>BY JOHN FARRELL

La Mirada Symphony flute sectionThe La Mirada Symphony will open its 44th season Saturday night with a couple of old friends in attendance, and a newcomer looking to make some friends.

The newcomer is contemporary composer Joseph Russo's Triple Flute Concerto, making its West Coast premiere with all three members of the orchestra's flute section - Joan Cain, Laura Scott and Brad Cain - as soloists.

The old friends are Schubert's beloved "Rosamunde" overture and Borodin's thrilling Second Symphony.

The free concert marks Maestro David Stenske's sixth season as music director of the orchestra, and kicks off a season that will include performances of Franck's D-Minor Symphony, the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto and an all-Tchaikovsky spectacular that will mark the season's end. The orchestra will present four concerts in all, including a pops concert in April.

The highlight of Saturday's concert will be the Russo Triple Flute Concerto.

"We looked for triple flute concertos and there are very few of them in the repertory," Stenske said in a phone conversation recently.

The Schubert "Rosamunde" overture is a popular piece that is frequently heard at orchestral concerts, but Borodin's Symphony No. 2, also on the program, is rarely heard anymore.

Stenske said, "Sometimes great works, when they are overdone, take a vacation from performance. I'm not resurrecting it, but I think audiences want to hear it again."

Later in the season Stenske will do much the same thing with Franck's D-Minor Symphony, another work once familiar and now not often heard.

For Stenske, who also performs as second chair violin in the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, the La Mirada Symphony is a family.

"I try to challenge them to do the best they can do, and they respond with enthusiasm. I have tried my hardest to make great music with these people over the years."

In addition to its regular series of concerts, the orchestra performs for local schools and students.

"We do two large concerts for local schools in April," Stenske said. "This year both concerts packed the hall with students. It was great to see them all there."

The orchestra also has smaller ensembles that visit local schools for classroom performances during the year.

The orchestra's next concert is Jan. 26 and will feature the orchestra's new principal cellist, Alan Mautner, as soloist in the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto, Beethoven's well-known "Coriolan" overture, and Franck's large and romantic D-Minor Symphony.

The La Mirada Symphony's annual pops concert is next, on April 5. "From Big Band to Pop Rock and Everything in Between" is a big title, and the concert promises to live up to that title, Stenske said. "We will have Celtic music, swing music, big-band music and even some classic ragtime," he said. The orchestra's pianist, Suzanne Wong, will be the soloist in Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" as part of the program.

The orchestra's own "Tchaikovsky Spectacular" will end the season May 3. The program will end with the highly popular and exciting "1812" overture, but without fireworks since it is an indoor concert. Before the "1812" will come the orchestral fireworks of "Capriccio Italien" and the "Sleeping Beauty" waltz. Stenske will share conducting duties with assistant conductor James Lytthans, as Stenske joins the orchestra as violin soloist in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.




John Farrell is a Long Beach freelance writer.


LA MIRADA SYMPHONY
>Where: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada
>When: 8 p.m. Saturday
>Tickets: Free; (562) 944-9801, www.lamiradatheatre.com.
Go to the La Mirada Symphony Web site for more information.