Season package tickets are on sale for the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra’s 2011-2012 Entergy Masterworks season, which will consist of seven Thursday night concerts at the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts.

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.

The season, titled “La Belle ?poque de la Symphonie: France and its Influence on the Musical Arts,” will explore the impact of French culture on music and celebrate its far-reaching influence.

The season also ties into several important cultural and historic dates.

The year 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of Louisiana’s statehood. The French influence on the state’s culture, cuisine and way of life will be celebrated in the upcoming musical season.

The year 2012 also marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of French composer Claude Debussy, one of the world’s most innovative and influential composers. The exploration of color in music by the French Romantics opened the door for Debussy and Maurice Ravel to explore their impressionist pathways.

Composers from all over the world picked up on these innovations in harmony and orchestration and even further expanded the possibilities for musical expression. The music and spirit of the French Revolution also had a deep influence on Beethoven, sparking his own musical revolution and paving the way for the personal expression of Romanticism to come.

Among pieces programmed by Music Director Timothy Muffitt, the season will feature Stravinsky’s “L’Oiseau de feu” (Firebird Suite), Debussy’s “La Mer” (The Sea), Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 3 ?Eroica,’” Higdon’s “Blue Cathedral” and Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.”

The 2011-2012 season will include three concerts featuring the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus. Chorus Master David Shaler will lead the chorus of more than 125 volunteers in the Dec. 1 and 3 performances of “Home for the Holidays,” as well as the March 22, 2012, season finale.

“We invite you to join us for our 2011-2012 Entergy Masterworks Series and immerse yourself in this extraordinary repertoire, rich cultural heritage of our beautiful state, and the immense contributions France has made to classical music,” said Muffitt.

Season ticket packages are available with special discounts for senior citizens, children and college students. The season package includes seven concerts with priority choice of seating, special invitations, promotions, automatic rollover in which season tickets are reserved from year-to-year, and other season ticket holder privileges.

Concerts are scheduled for Sept. 22, featuring guest violinist Giora Schmidt; Oct. 20, featuring the symphony’s principal clarinetist Robert DiLutis; Nov. 17, featuring guest pianist Eduard Kunz; Dec. 1 and 3, “Home for the Holidays,” featuring the Symphony Chorus; Jan. 19, 2012, featuring the symphony’s principal violist, Matthew Daline; Feb. 16, 2012, featuring guest pianist Anton Nel; and March 22, 2012, featuring guest soprano Jan Redding.

The Dec. 1 performance is included in the regular Masterworks season ticketing package. The encore on Dec. 3 will be a stand-alone, separate, but identical performance. Families and patrons of all ages are welcome.

The 2011-2012 season also will include several installments of “Symphony 101,” where Muffitt and Executive Director Alan Hopper lead sessions exploring the production of events, the composers and the music. The discussions are followed by Masterworks rehearsals. Enrollment is limited.

Symphony 101 sessions take place on designated Tuesday nights, Nov. 15 and Feb. 14, 2012.

The Symphony 101 ticket purchase also includes a ticket to the corresponding Thursday night Masterworks performance.

Season ticket packages are $105-$349.

Individual concert tickets are $25-$55. On concert nights, tickets will be on sale at the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

For tickets or more information, call (225) 383-0500, ext. 100 or visit the website.

ON THE INTERNET: http://www.brso.org