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Saturday, January 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Symphony’s upcoming season features Titanic tribute

By Travis Rivers Correspondent

The Spokane Symphony’s 2011-’12 season will offer a healthy variety of symphonic standards and new works, a touch of jazz and country-western, a new “Nutcracker” dance partner and location, and an observance of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

The roster of soloists includes established veterans such as cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and pianist Jon Kimura Parker along with a group of younger performers including violinist Tim Fain, Croatian pianist Martina Filjak and marimbist-composer Nebojsa Zivkovic.

Music Director Eckart Preu and Resident Conductor Morihiko Nakahara will conduct all of the concerts except for a visit from the Eugene Symphony’s newly named music director, Danail Rachev, who will conduct the Classics concert Feb. 25.

“We are really lucky to have two conductors who work with other orchestras,” Annie Matlow, the symphony’s marketing director, says of Preu (also music director of the symphony in Stamford, Conn.) and Nakahara (who also leads the South Carolina Philharmonic). “They work with many of the hottest up-and-coming artists.”

Symphonygoers who crave the classics standards can look forward to Grieg’s Piano Concerto on opening weekend (Sept. 17-18) along with Beethoven’s “Pastorale” Symphony and his “Eroica” later in the season – even Rossini’s “William Tell” Overture, which is usually consigned to pops programs.

The blockbusters are there, too, with Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique on opening night, followed later by Brahms’ Requiem, Stravinsky’s “Petrushka,” Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” and Strauss’ “Don Quixote.”

Enthusiasts for the new and unusual will find Golijov’s “Last Round,” Bloch’s “Three Jewish Poems” and Zivkovich’s Marimba Concerto on Classics programs. 

In keeping with the attention drawn to “The Social Network” by the Academy Awards, the symphony’s three Casual Classics concerts imagine other composers who might be Facebook friends with Beethoven (Sept. 23), Mozart (March 9) and Schubert (April 20).

The orchestra’s SuperPops series opens Oct. 15 with Frank Sinatra Jr., who was originally scheduled for this season but postponed because of the symphony’s financial pressures.

Jazz is represented by Richie Cole and Five By Design (Nov. 12), with Riders in the Sky upholding the cowboy tradition (Feb. 4) and soprano Ann Hampton Callaway upholding the tradition of the Broadway diva (March 17).

Along with the usual Holiday Pops (Dec. 17-18), the orchestra also will present “A Night to Remember – Music from the Titanic” (April 28).

“Since 2012 is the centennial of the sinking of the Titantic, Eckart went through the list of music in the book of the ship’s orchestra,” Matlow says, “and he picked out some of the favorites like Strauss waltzes and songs from the turn of the century that those musicians played from memory.

“And of course we had to have ‘My Heart Will Go On’ from the movie soundtrack for the SuperPops finale.”

Among the nonsubscription symphony events, the biggest news involves “The Nutcracker,” which will be staged in a new venue – the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, the symphony’s usual home, instead of the INB Performing Arts Center – in partnership with a new dance troupe, the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara, Calif.

The State Street company replaces Ballet Memphis, which two seasons ago took over from the orchestra’s longtime “Nutcracker” collaborator, Alberta Ballet. The Ballet Memphis sets are too big to fit into The Fox, Matlow says.

There will be five Fox performances of the ballet – three evenings, and two matinees – in place of the previous four shows at the larger INB.

Also available as separate purchases from regular subscription packages are the Chamber Soiree chamber music concerts presented by symphony members at the Davenport Hotel, and what has become an annual tradition of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on New Year’s Eve.

Beyond the events announced today, Matlow says, “We have some surprises up our sleeves.”

When pressed about the nature of those surprises, she replied: “As Eckart says, ‘We want people to expect the unexpected and the unforgettable.’ ”

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