Symphony by the Sea is mixing Beethoven’s Fifth with Broadway show tunes this weekend, in a formula that they established last season.
“Last year, we did the Third, with selections from ‘West Side Story,’” said Don Palma, the orchestra’s conductor. “It was a big hit, so we decided to continue that theme.”
The fact that they are playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony after his Third follows another pattern, which the composer may or may not have intended to create.
“It’s kind of strange in a way, they’re all wonderful, but the odd numbers seem to be marking points and innovation points,” Palma said. “One, which begins with a dissonance; three, the most deeply developed symphony of its time; and then five, with its kind of very taut structure and C minor-C major redemptive quality, sits right in the middle, between one and nine.”
The Fifth Symphony also opens with four notes that Beethoven supposedly once said are the sound of fate knocking on the door.
“It’s not just that it’s middle period, but because of its iconically short theme, it’s recognized around the world,” Palma said.
This is the last concert of the season for Symphony by the Sea, which first performed on June 6, 1981, and has been playing at The Cabot in Beverly since June 2015.
Palma, who teaches at Yale University and the New England Conservatory of Music and performs with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, said that this weekend’s concert was also inspired by his early days as a musician in New York.
“I was playing in the American Symphony with Leopold Stokowski and also playing the opening of ‘A Little Night Music’ on Broadway,” he said. “I used to go back and forth between those two worlds.”
Symphony by the Sea will play Beethoven first, before performing Broadway songs that will feature vocals by mezzo-soprano Ana Guigui, who teaches at Berklee College of Music.
“We’re going to start with the overture to ‘Annie Get Your Gun,’ which is a good way to start,” Palma said. “It’s got the tune ‘No Business Like Show Business’ in it.”
Guigui has plenty of show business experience of her own, in both classical and popular genres, which she can sing in several languages.
In addition to playing piano and working as an actress in feature films and television, she has sung with popular musicians ranging from Ben Folds to Chip Taylor to Christopher Cross.
She has also written and performed two one-woman shows with autobiographical themes, “God Box” and “Ana vs. the World,” and teaches a course in this unique theatrical genre.
“It’s my favorite class to teach at Berklee,” Guigui said.
In a one-person show, a single performer often plays several characters, while telling a story through a range of means that may include dancing, acting and music.
“The class has been really successful,” Guigui said. “Students write me the most beautiful emails telling me they discover so much about themselves.”
Palma described her father, Panamanian-born Efraim Guigui, as “a very fine conductor from Argentina, who Aaron Copland brought to this country years ago,” where he led the Vermont Symphony Orchestra from 1974 to 1989.
Ana’s own performance of classical music includes singing with an organization that she co-founded in Los Angeles, Opera on Tap.
“It demystified the genre of opera, bringing it into bars, clubs,” Guigui said.
She also directs Opera on Tap Latino, which features a classical, Spanish-language vocal repertoire, and she researched Argentinian art songs by Carlos Guastavino and Leon Benáros as part of a doctoral program at the University of Southern California, from which she graduated in 2013.
This weekend, along with the overture from “Annie Get Your Gun,” Guigui will sing “Send in the Clowns” from Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.”
The program will include “reprises from ‘West Side Story,’ which we did last year,” Palma said, along with “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from “Evita.”
Guigui said that she has not performed in any of the shows where these songs appear but has sung some of the numbers in cabaret settings.
She also chose the final number for Sunday’s program, “Defying Gravity” from the musical “Wicked,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz.
“It’s a pretty deep lyric, actually, about being who you are, being yourself, aligning with your truth,” Guigui said.
If you go
What: “Broadway to Beethoven and Back”
When: Sunday, 3 p.m.
Where: The Cabot, 286 Cabot St., Beverly
How much: $35