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Snap, classics, pops at 2009-10 Spokane Symphony

Orchestral heavyweights, mix of pops highlight schedule

Travis Rivers Correspondent

A new “Beethoven Bash,” pops at The Fox and a different dance partner for “The Nutcracker” will be among the highlights of the Spokane Symphony’s 2009-2010 season. Season tickets go on sale today for the various series on the schedule, which was announced in a mailing to symphony subscribers.

The season opens Sept. 26 with two orchestral blockbusters – Ravel’s “Bolero” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” – along with Gershwin’s Concerto in F with Pascal Roge as piano soloist.

“There isn’t any special theme for this opening concert; it just has some fantastic music and starts our season with a bang,” says Music Director Eckart Preu. “I think that is important for the audience and for us, too.

“We will be glad we started with a bang because we will follow it with an even bigger bang with two different Beethoven programs on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 10 and 11,” Preu adds.

“Two seasons ago we had a Beethoven Bash that was very successful. I wanted to repeat that success but doing something a little different,” he explains.

“Philip Quint will play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto on both concerts, but we have a different Beethoven symphony on each and open each concert with a different overture by Beethoven. It will be a double bash.”

Special ticket prices are available for those who want to hear both Beethoven concerts.

Roge and Quint head a list of noted classical soloists that includes guitar virtuoso Manuel Barrueco, pianist Valentina Lisitsa, violinist Vadim Gluzman, cellist Gautier Capuçon, soprano Susan Lorette Dunn and harpist Yolanda Kondonassis.

The Symphony Chorale will join the orchestra in February for Mozart’s Requiem and Schoenberg’s “A Survivor from Warsaw.”

“We are opening with Mozart’s ‘Ein kleine Nachmusik’ and ending with the Requiem,” Preu says.

“I wondered what to put with the Requiem, something connected but not too much the same. The ‘Survivor from Warsaw’ deals with death and grief, but in a different way.”

Preu will conduct most of the classics concerts, sharing the podium with Resident Conductor Morihiko Nakahara and guest conductor Larry Rachleff, who each will conduct one concert.

Nakahara will lead most of the SuperPops programs, which move to the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox from their previous home, the INB Performing Arts Center.

The pops season opens Oct. 3 with the Canadian Brass and will continue with such headliners as the bluegrass ensemble the Cherryholmes family; Ben Vereen in a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.; and the country and Western team of singer Wylie Gustafson and cowboy poet Paul Zarzyski.

In a pair of pops programs, the film classic “The Wizard of Oz” will be presented in a remastered version, featuring the original 1939 dialogue and songs with live orchestral accompaniment.

Irish tenor Ronan Tynan will be the featured performer in the annual Holiday Pops concerts.

The holiday season will find Ballet Memphis making its Spokane debut, dancing the symphony’s annual “Nutcracker” performances – ending the orchestra’s longstanding relationship with Alberta Ballet.

Scheduling conflicts at the INB Performing Arts Center, where “The Nutracker” remains, precluded Alberta Ballet from appearing again this year.

In another dance program, the Martha Graham Dance Company will appear with the orchestra March 27 at The Fox in a non-subscription concert. Other special events may be announced later.

The orchestra again will venture across the street to the Knitting Factory Concert House for a pair of free-wheeling Symphony on the Edge concerts.

Smaller groups of orchestra members will present three programs of chamber music in the Chamber Soirée Series at the Davenport Hotel. Two soirée concerts will be repeated at the Jacklin Center for Arts and Culture in Post Falls.

The three Casual Classics programs will focus on music composed in and for three major cities: Venice, Paris and New York.

The new season also will include two Family Concerts geared to children and their parents, and four of the Classics concerts will have events for students as part of the Symphony’s Youth Exploration Series (Symphony YES).

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