If you believe classical music is only for snobs, you may be better entertained at a circus.
This weekend you can have both.
The next concert by the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra will feature the talents of Cirque de la Symphonie, which fuses circus artists with classical music.
According to creator Bill Allen, Cirque evolved from his own creative ideas and those of Alexander Streltsov.
"I've been involved with the entertainment business for many years and during that time traveled extensively in Russia," Allen explained. "Alexander grew up in the circus world in Moscow."
Allen's efforts helped Streltsov become a major cirque star in the United States, resulting in various theatrical tours and television programs, and in 1998, Streltsov's first appearance as an aerialist with a full symphony orchestra -- the Cincinnati Pops.
Additional concerts in Florida, Alabama, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon and other locations convinced both Allen and Streltsov that they had a successful formula with nationwide appeal.
With the careful selection of cirque artists from all around the world, Cirque de la Symphonie was born. As cofounders, Allen and Streltsov incorporated in 2005; the first major program was with the Houston Symphony.
"Since then Cirque de la Symphonie has performed with more than a hundred orchestras in North America, and has expanded its presence internationally," Allen reported.
The main objective of Cirque de la Symphonie is to raise cirque artistry to a fine arts level by pairing masterful acrobatic performances with classical music, Allen explained.
"We bring the magic of cirque to the music hall," he said. "The fusion of cirque and symphony is accomplished through the careful planning of music selections and program order, the 'invisible glue' which makes this pairing such a natural combination.
Another accomplishment, which Allen noted has proven especially beneficial to orchestras, is the ability of the program to attract many new patrons to the music hall.
"In this day of decreased endowments and tightening budgets, it has been a delightful surprise for many orchestras to witness sellouts with this program," he said. "Cirque de la Symphonie has a reputation for selling out everywhere it goes, and many orchestras report record-setting attendance."
These new patrons are not just regular subscribers who bring along children or grandchildren to the concert, Allen clarified, but include many new young adults.
"These are the very persons the orchestras need to be recruiting as new subscribers," he said. "It is important for the orchestras to be able to re-invent themselves to attract new patrons when there are so many entertainment choices available today."
Artists are assigned music many weeks in advance and the selections are carefully choreographed to the fluid movements of the cirque performers, so that it appears they have been living with the music all their lives, Allen pointed out.
"Cirque de la Symphonie is different from other cirque productions around the world, in that it is the only company in the world that works exclusively with symphony orchestras, and so the performances are unique, in that all of the acts take place on the limited stage space shared with the orchestra," he said. "For the audience it is an exhilarating feeling when one of the aerialists leaves the stage and literally flies out over their heads, with the full power and majesty of the orchestra blowing through his back."
Allen clarified this was no three-ring circus act.
"No dancing clowns, flying confetti, laser lights or other distractions typical of other circuses," he said. "Rather, it's a richly combined, sensual experience of fluid movements and majestic musical masterpieces."