ALTOONA — The Altoona Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestra Teresa Cheung, will continue with the 2019-20 Concert Season offering “Besieged” on Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School Auditorium, Hollidaysburg. Each year the Altoona Symphony Orchestra proudly offers the region a high level, professional orchestra concert season and this year is no exception. The Altoona Symphony’s 2019-2020 season will continue with a commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In a partnership with Penn State Altoona, the Altoona Symphony Orchestra will offer a pre-concert lecture at

On Saturday, Nov. 9, the Altoona Symphony Orchestra marks the breaching of the Berlin Wall on precisely that night thirty years ago, an event that brought about the end of communism in Europe and the Cold War order.

In preparation, a committee of Penn State Altoona history and German professors brought the nonprofit oral history organization, StoryCorps (, to campus to record conversations with Altoona area community members about their memories of this event, as well as their experiences witnessing the divided German society and its impact on people’s lives. Some Altoona residents told stories about their military service in Germany; others, what it meant to grow up “West German” or “East German.” Yet another group shared how disorienting and uncertain their own lived experience of transition in Eastern Europe was. Together they now form an archive of voices that celebrates the fall of the Berlin Wall, while reminding us that the dramatic changes it precipitated by far exceed one famous evening.

To commemorate this important event in the spirit of Altoona residents’ variegated experiences and reflections, Maestra Cheung has programmed two works that, each in their own way, respond to political tumult, dipping deep into the reservoir of musical expression to articulate the sharp truth of despair, but also the flight of human hope--music as the language of humanity’s innermost conscience. Under the title “Besieged,” the ASO will perform the rarely heard Symphony No. 7 “Leningrad” by Dimitri Shostakovich in conjunction with Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man;” the audience will also hear excerpts from the StoryCorps recordings on the divided Europe and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

What these two works, both written in times of war in the early 1940s, though in radically different circumstances, reflect is the horror of losing freedom and the fight to regain it. Through powerful testimonials in word and music, the Altoona Symphony, in collaboration with Penn State Altoona, invites the audience to commemorate the one physical wall dismantled 30 years ago, and reflect on the many visible and invisibles barriers, past and present, still crisscrossing people’s lives.

Individual tickets are on sale to the general public at the Mishler Theatre Box office online at or by calling 944-9434. Prices are $35 for adults and $15 for students (includes box office fees). Tickets will also be available at the Box Office the evening of the concert.