NEW PORT RICHEY — It's all about flying high or maybe to the moon and beyond as the Richey Community Orchestra prepares for its February concert.
"The Wild Blue Yonder — Music That's Out of This World! " is a multi-media offering that includes classical selections such as The Planets by Gustav Holst and Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy along with music from the movies — Star Wars and E.T. by John Williams and selections from the movie Apollo 13 by James Horner. A video slide show featuring photographs taken from the Hubble Telescope will enhance the experience as will guest soloist and rising jazz star Whitney James. The Tampa-based singer will put her own spin on some old-time favorites such as Fly Me to the Moon, What A Little Moonlight Can Do and more. Derek Weston and Robert Boyd will conduct the 50-piece orchestra.
"It's exciting, really exciting," said orchestra director and clarinet player Denise Isaacson. "We're playing music that is out of the world, a wonderful mix of classical and popular music. This is the ultimate music to play."
James promises to be an "astounding presence," said Isaacson, who recruited the singer after seeing her perform locally and listening to her recordings.
James has appeared locally at various venues in Tampa and at the Palladium in St. Petersburg, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday and the Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota. Her 2010 debut album The Nature of Love spent 16 weeks on the national jazz charts and received national and international critical acclaim. In 2012, she was also featured on the NPR program Piano Jazz: Rising Stars.
"I'm very exited to have her join us," Isaacson said. "She adds a lot of color to what she sings. She's very inventive with how she phrases things and has the quality of being able to put all kinds of color into the notes she's singing. It's just a wonderful sound."
• On another note, the Richey Community Orchestra is seeking experienced choral singers who read music to be part of its production of Handel's Messiah on April 13.
The concert will be held at 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Elfers, 4050 Redleaf Drive, New Port Richey.
Rehearsals will be held at the church at 7:30 p.m. each Monday, beginning Feb. 3. For information, call Isaacson at (727) 919-3866.