When Thomas Moore of the Akron Symphony was looking for an image to represent the spirit of Sheherazade for the organization's opening concert this season, he knew he wanted to steer clear of the imagery depicting the character as a Middle Eastern belly dancer. He wanted something different and he found it in a bold and alluring painting by San Diego painter Jorge Garza.

The orchestra will open its 2018-19 season at 8 p.m. Saturday with a program including Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sheherazade,'' the storytelling heroine from the Arabian folk tale "One Thousand and One Nights." To promote the concert, Moore knew Garza's strikingly colorful painting would catch the attention of both concertgoers who are familiar with the music and those who aren't.

Moore got in touch with the artist, who granted him the right to use the image of his painting. But the connection went deeper: Moore discovered that "Sheherazade" was Garza's favorite piece of classical music. And although he didn't set out to make a Sheherazade painting when he created it five years ago, the character was always in the back of his mind.

Garza said he came across a closeup photo of a veiled Middle Eastern woman years ago and was captured by her intriguing eyes.

"That inspired me and I changed all the colors and I added colors that I thought were more representative of whatever I wanted, so maybe I can match those green eyes which were kind of intriguing,'' Garza said of his work, speaking from his home in San Diego.

The painting, done in acrylics, is dominated by beautiful reds and greens. It measures 20 by 28 and is one of his favorites.

"I wanted to paint something, an image of an intriguing ... lady and I was always fascinated by these eyes, this look and the mysteriousness with all the veils," Garza said.

He fell in love with Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sheherazade" when he was just 7, growing up in Mexico City with his father playing the music all the time.

"It's something that was part of my life since I was a little kid,'' he said. "In the music, the violins represent the voice of Sheherazade."

The self-taught artist, 76, retired as an independent architect about four years ago but has been painting for seven or eight years. Painting has become his second career, and the prolific artist has created close to 700 paintings in that time period. That's an average of one painting every three days.

"I didn't back then expect anything like this and I'm a happy camper,'' Garza, an award-winning painter, said of when he started.

Garza is so enthused by the connection he has forged with the Akron Symphony Orchestra, he'll travel to Akron to see the concert Saturday, which will also feature Andrea Cheng in Mozart's "Piano Concerto No. 21 in C (Elvira Madigan)" and Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italien."

"I just feel so honored to have my painting in such a wonderful event,'' he said. "It's just an achievement for me to be honored among the potentially hundreds of paintings. To be discovered, it's fate. It's wonderful. I love it."

For tickets to the concert Saturday, which cost $12.50 to $60, call 330-535-8131 or see www.akronsymphony.org.


Les Délices

For those who've ever wondered what the City of Light was like during Mozart's time, Les Délices has created the program "Mozart in Paris — Part 2" to create that context by setting his works alongside those composers whose music was all the rage in the late 1770s.

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 50 N. Prospect St., Akron. This is the first time that Les Délices, based in Shaker Heights, has expanded its concerts into Summit County. The Akron event is part of the organization's 10th anniversary highlights.

It will feature American forte pianist Sylvia Berry playing the instrument Mozart played. The brand-new program, which also includes oboe and strings, is meant to give audiences a new perspective on the famous composer. 

The concert will include an 18th-century arrangement of Mozart's "Grand Partita" as well as works by Boccherini, Schobert and Cambini. They will be accompanied by readings from Mozart's humorous letters.

Cost is $5-$35 for the Akron event. Call 330-376-5154 for reservations or information.

If you miss that, the same concert also will be performed at 8 p.m. Oct. 6 at Lakewood Congregational Church, 1375 W. Clifton Blvd., and at 4 p.m. Oct. 7 at Herr Chapel at Plymouth Church UCC, 2860 Coventry Road, Shaker Heights.

Les Délices, or "The Delights," fosters, educates and expands audiences for live chamber music on period instruments through presenting long-forgotten music. The group was founded by baroque oboist Debra Nagy in 2009.

Staged reading

Dynamics Community Theater of Tallmadge will host a staged reading of "The Scarlet Pimpernel,'' adapted by April  Helms, at 7 p.m. Thursday. The free event will be at the Community Room at Tallmadge High School, 14 N. Munroe Road, Tallmadge.


Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.