The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of music director and conductor John Morris Russell, opens its 34th season, Passion and Music in the Lowcountry, with a solo Gala Opening Night. The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy. on Hilton Head. This is a departure from the usual starting time of 8 p.m.

Acclaimed pianist and veteran of the international concert stage Jon Kimura Parker will perform George Gershwin’s renowned “Rhapsody in Blue.” Tchaikovsky’s musical postcard “Capriccio italien” will begin the concert, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio espagnol” will end the evening on a Spanish note.

Known for his passionate artistry and engaging stage presence, Parker has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, toured Europe with the Royal Philharmonic and Andre Previn, and shared the stage with Jessye Norman at Berlin’s Philharmonic. He has given command performances for Queen Elizabeth II, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the prime ministers of Canada and Japan.

As a member of the outreach project Piano Plus, Parker toured remote areas including the Canadian Artic, performing music and rock ‘n’ roll on instruments from upright pianos to electronic keyboards. This season he debuted his new project, Off the Score, in a quintet with legendary Police drummer Stewart Copeland, featuring both compositions and fresh takes on the music of Ravel, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky.

The new season will feature passionate performances of the greatest orchestral masterpieces. Majestic symphonies by Dvorak, Brahms, Beethoven, and Berlioz, the dazzling virtuosity of young artists, renowned soloists, and an orchestra of ardent musicianship will thrill veteran concert goers and new fans alike.

Concert tickets are $30, $45, and $55. Reduced prices are available for children and an accompanying parent for Sunday matinees. Student rush tickets are available the evening of the concert for $10.

Tickets are on sale for all concerts; subscription packages are available for three, six, and nine concerts. Call the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra at 843-842-2055 to purchase tickets, or visit www.hhso.org. Program notes by Joseph and Elizabeth Khan are available on the website before each performance.