From John Adams to Frank Zappa. A to Z. With Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Bernstein, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Villa-Lobos and many others in between.
Spokane Symphony Orchestra conductor and artistic director Eckart Preu will begin his 11th season this fall by once again giving Spokane audiences classic works by the grand masters, eclectic pieces by avant garde composers and talented guest artists to share in their creation.
The guests for the 2014-15 season? There will be a lot of great piano playing from Sivan Silver and Gil Garburg of the Silver-Garburg Duo, Joyce Yang, Valentina Lisitsa, Sergio Mendes and Thomas Lauderdale, who is bringing Pink Martini back to town. Cellist Edward Arron, violinist Augustin Hadelich and Spokane’s own accordion master Patricia Bartell will bring their expertise to the stage of the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. The spotlight also will shine on symphony members Daniel Cotter (clarinet), Amanda Howard-Phillips (violin) and Mateusz Wolski (violin). Guest conductors include Michal Nesterowicz and Robert Moody.
Preu said that when he’s planning a season he doesn’t like to stick to a theme. “A theme in many ways is limiting,” he said, “because we want to provide so many different experiences.”
Instead, he looks to present pieces that relate to each other in some fashion, while still being quite different. For instance, next February’s Classics concert “Beethoven & Schubert” centers on works the two great composers created during trying personal times. Franz Schubert learned he was seriously ill as he worked on his colorful Symphony No. 8, while Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his second symphony as he grappled with his inevitable hearing loss. These two works will be bridged by Arvo Pärt’s Tabular Rasa: Ludus (“Game”), composed when the Estonian was in a period of artistic reinvention and public silence.
Preu has the freedom to bring to Spokane music by these lesser-known composers – or in the case of Zappa, composers who are not known for orchestral works – because audiences here are a little more receptive.
“In many parts of the country there’s a lot of conservativism, where basically people want to hear Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. And if it’s not by these three composers, it doesn’t sell,” Preu said. “I think there is a lot of music that isn’t done for that particular reason: because people want to play it safe, or the audiences are not willing to take the extra step and explore different things.”
Of course part of the symphony’s mission is to celebrate and honor the blockbusters, Preu said. So the season will feature, well, Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. And Gustav Mahler, Johannes Brahams and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Antonin Dvorák, Josef Haydn and J.S. Bach. It’ll include an orchestral work made famous by an animated mouse (Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”), and one of the most well-known flute parts in the classical repertoire (Claude Debussy’s Prelude to “The Afternoon of the Faun.”).
Meanwhile, the SuperPop series once again features the popular Holiday Pops concert, a film-themed event – this year featuring the music of “Gone With the Wind,” “Star Wars” and the Harry Potter films, among others – a symphonic performance of Elvis Presley’s greatest hits, a night of hot jazz with the legendary Sergio Mendes, Celtic music timed for St. Patrick’s Day, and a performance by Pink Martini.
“Pink Martini is always a boost to our pops season,” Preu said. Indeed, Portland’s “little orchestra” sold out the Fox in 2013, six months after it sold out the Festival at Sandpoint.
“I’m really looking forward to this season,” Preu said. “I think it’s going to be a blast.”