Midori, Jupiter String Quartet among season highlights

The overture to Atlanta’s classical music season has been unusually gloomy. At the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, plans for steep pay cuts have led to a threatened work stoppage. And at the Atlanta Opera, the sudden and somewhat mysterious resignation of Dennis Hanthorn, has dismayed some opera fans. After this, it will be a relief to just sit down, hope for the best, and enjoy the music.

Assuming negotiations lead to an agreement, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (www.atlantasymphony.org) will open its season with superstar violinist Midori (Oct. 4-7), in a concert featuring the monumental Beethoven "Violin Concerto" and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4. Robert Spano, beginning his 12th season with the orchestra, will conduct. Once an astounding prodigy, Midori has become one of the great violinists of our era.

As part of a series of events called Celebrating Defiance, the Anti-Defamation League will collaborate with the ASO for performances of “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin” (Oct. 11). The work is a concert drama based on the testimonies of survivors of the Nazi concentration camp at Terezin, in what is now the Czech Republic. Verdi’s Requiem was featured in one of their performances, and the ASO musicians and chorus will perform it as part of this event.

Each year, one of the highlights of the ASO season is its annual Carnegie Hall concert. This year the orchestra is taking its celebrated chorus for a concert that features three landmark 20th century works. If you can't make it to New York, you can hear the same concert here at Symphony Hall (Oct. 18, Oct. 20). The lineup includes Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring," Leonard Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms" and William Walton's "Belshazzar's Feast." Be sure not to miss this one.

One of the best things Atlanta has going for it is Spivey Hall, located on the campus of Clayton State University . This jewel of a concert hall has a season of interesting chamber concerts, vocal, piano and organ recitals and choral work . Jupiter String Quartet (Nov. 10, www.spiveyhall.org), one of the world's best known string quartets , returns as part of a special residency with the hall. The concert features works by Haydn, Berg and Schubert.

Also in November, the Atlanta Opera (www.atlantaopera.org) season opens with Bizet's "Carmen" (Nov. 10-18). Mezzo-soprano Maria José Monteil will sing the title role. Noted Mexican tenor Fernando de la Mora will portray Don José, and the role of Micaëla will be sung by soprano Melissa Shippen. Arthur Fagen, the company's music director, will conduct, and the production will be directed by Jeffrey Marc Buchman. The opera traces the star-crossed attraction of Don José, a naive soldier, for Carmen, a gypsy. It remains one of the most beloved operas in the repertoire.