What’s returning? The Soirees to the Davenport Hotel. “Carmina Burana.” Beethoven’s Ninth on New Year’s Eve, “The Nutcracker.” Symphony With a Splash.
The Spokane Symphony announced its 2015 season this weekend. Eckart Preu, the symphony’s music director, jokingly referred the upcoming lineup as “whole lot of interesting stuff.”
That’s one way of looking at it. There’s no overarching theme for the season – a concept he said he finds boring and restricting. Instead, the symphony is continuing with its trend of mixing blockbuster works from the classical repertoire with new or experimental works.
Here’s a look at the symphony’s year.
First up, is something Russian.
“I think 90 percent of orchestras in America begin with something Russian, or end with something Russian,” Preu said, “Russian music is something that everyone can relate to. It’s so emotional, it’s so colorful.”
As we said, he likes to mix the familiar with the unfamiliar or the new. Thus in the first Classics concert, we have Modest Mussorgsky’s epic “Night on Bald Mountain,” P.I. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 (“Little Russian”) and Bela Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
“What I want to do, is that we have something really familiar, like the Mussorgsky, but we haven’t done that in forever,” Preu said. “And then do a familiar composer with a less familiar piece. Symphony No. 2, it’s such a wonderful, uplifting piece. It’s all the Tchaikovsky you need, minus the depression. … Then we’re going to do something spicy, and Bartok is always good spice.”
Classics 1: “Russian Adventures,” Sept. 19-20. Preu conducts the symphony performing Modest Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” Bela Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and P.I. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 (“Little Russian”). The guest artist is pianist Cecile Licad.
Classics 2: “American Wonders,” Oct. 10-11. On the agenda are William Schuman’s “American Festival Overture,” Ferde Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite,” Igor Stravinsky’s Concert for Piano & Wind Instruments, and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Preu conducts, with special guest Andreas Boyde on piano.
Classics 3: “Scottish Fantasies,” Oct. 24-25. Morihiko Nakahara conducts as the symphony heads to the Highlands with Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Orkney Wedding with Sunrise,” Maz Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy,” and Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (“Scottish”). Concertmaster Mateusz Wolski is the violin soloist, and there will be bagpipers.
Classics 4: “La Bohéme,” Nov. 21-22, in collaboration with Opera Coeur d’Alene. Members of the Spokane Symphony Chorale and soloists from Opera Coeur d’Alene will bring Giacomo Pucci’s classic opera to life. Preu conducts.
Preu always liked to do opera, and remembering the success of “Rigoletto” about 10 years ago, when the opportunity presented itself to team up with Opera Coeur d’Alene, he took it. It’s also part of the symphony’s continuing effort to reach out to other arts organizations, such as the “Les Miserábles” with Spokane Civic Theatre and “Uncharted Territory” at Terrain.
“I know Opera Coeur d’Alene will guarantee a really high-powered cast which we could not afford on our own, so I think it’s very beneficial on many levels,” Preu said. “We have a really good opera company nearby, so it’s really worthwhile for our patrons who love opera and who don’t go yet, and vice versa.”
Classics 5: “Love Hurts,” Jan 23-24, featuring pianist Alon Goldstein. With a program that features Richard Strauss’ “Don Juan,” Wolfgang Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, and Jennifer Higdon’s “blue cathedral” and Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the title says it all. Preu conducts.
Classics 6: “Heaven and Hell,” Feb. 13-14, with guest conductor Marco Parisotto. Program will include Vivian Fung’s “Aqua,” Tchaikovsky’s “Francesca da Rimini,” and Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.
Classics 7: “Zen Fantastique,” Feb. 27-28, with Maja Bogdanovic on cello. Preu leads the symphony through Karen Tanaka’s “Water for Life,” Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Hector Berlioz’s “Symphony Fantastique.”
Classics 8: “Symphonic Dances,” March 19-20. Michael Abels’ “Global Warming,” Mendelsohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances” will take center stage, along with violinist Sayaka Shoji. Preu conducts.
Classics 9: “Genius Evolution,” April 2-3, 2016, will feature J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, Osvaldo Golijov’s “Sidereus,” and Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6.
Classics 10: “Blockbusters,” May 7-8, 2016, wrap the Classics season with a bang. Preu will put the symphony through its paces for Ottorino Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome,” Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. Pianist Ian Parker lends his fingers for the occasion.
Symphonic Films at the Fox
Following a successful screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” in February and previous movie events including “The Wizard of Oz” in 2010, the symphony is officially launching a film series.
The symphony will perform the musical accompaniment for two classics of the silent era. First up, on Halloween, is “Nosferatu,” a 1922 horror film directed by F.W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck as the vampire Graf Orlok. On Feb. 6, the symphony will tackle Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 drama “City Lights.” Chaplin himself wrote the film’s score.
Assistant conductor Jorge Luis Uzcátegui will lead the musicians for “Nosferatu,” while resident conductor Nakahara will wield the baton for “City Lights.”
“We wanted to do a special that was special,” Preu said. “And whenever we do ‘Carmina Burana,’ it sells out. It’s an iconic work.”
It’s been five years since the symphony performed Carl Orff’s best-known composition. So next spring, the symphony, the Symphony Chorale and soprano Dawn Wolski will team up for the classic works.
That program, with a date to be announced, will also feature the American premiere of “Dreamland” by Icelandic composer Gylfi Sigurðsson. “This little island, there’s a lot of innovative, funky, beautiful stuff happening,” Preu said. The concert will begin with a reprisal of the audience’s favorite contemporary work played in the 2014-15 season (by audience vote).
SuperPops 1: “The Spy Who Loved Me,” Oct. 3. Grammy winner Sheena Easton lends her voice to not only her own hit James Bond theme, “For Your Eyes Only,” but other Bond classics such as “Goldfinger,” “The Spy Who Loved Me,” and “The World is Not Enough.” Conducted by Nakahara.
SuperPops 2: “Good Old-Fashioned Boston Pops,” Nov. 14. Uzcátegui will evoke the late Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, with a collection of beloved tunes from light classics to Broadway standards. “I think we really wanted to bring that old-fashioned pops back,” Preu said. “Arthur Fiedler, if anything, introduced a lot of people to classical music, via the pop format. And I think that is something that is quite extraordinary.”
SuperPops 3: “Holiday Pops,” Dec. 19. The new guy, Uzcátegui, will conduct this holiday tradition. Joining the symphony are the Symphony Chorale and members of the Spokane Area Youth Choirs.
SuperPops 4: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, Jan. 30. This legendary trumpeter and his wife will put their trademark sound to an assortment of jazz, world and pop standards.
SuperPops 5: “For Ella,” March 12. Patti Austin will lend her considerable talents to the catalogue of the great Ella Fitzgerald. Uzcátegui will conduct.
SuperPops 6: “Cirque Musica Crescendo,” April 30, 2016. Cirque comes to the symphony, with Nakahara as the ringmaster. This performance will feature international cirque artists performing in union with the full symphony.
After several years at the Spokane Club, the Soirees return to the Marie Antoinette Ballroom at the Davenport Hotel, Oct. 13-14, Feb. 16-17, and May 17-18, 2016. “It’s very unique to Spokane. There are very few cities I’ve been to that have the old hotel that is so beautiful and sounds so beautiful on the inside,” Preu said. “I’m happy we tried the (Spokane Club), but we were happy to go back … we wanted to preserve the uniqueness of that series.”
Also, this summer will be two Soiree on the Edge programs at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars in Spokane Valley on Aug. 12 and Aug. 19.
Symphony With A Splash
Splash 1, Nov. 6 with Preu, conductor, Wolski, violin, and Amanda Howard-Phillips, violin. The program includes the West Coast premiere of Harry Stafylakis’ “Arc of Horizon,” Anna Clyne’s “Prince of Clouds,” a concerto for two violins, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8.
Splash 2, Jan. 15 with Nakahara, conductor, and Sheila McNally, English horn. On the bill are Armando Bayolo’s Chamber Symphony “Illusory Airs,” Arvo Pärt’s “If Bach Had Been a Beekeeper …,” Peteris Vasks’ Concerto for English Horn, Mvt. II, “Folk Music,” Andy Akiho “Ki-iro (Yellow),” and Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A Major.
Splash 3, April 15. Uzcátegui leads the symphony and soloists through Silvestre Revueltas’ “Sensemayá” (chamber version), Arturo Marquez’s Danzon No. 3 and Josef Haydn’s Symphony No. 45, “Farewell.”
“The Nutcracker” – Is it Christmas without “The Nutcracker”? Not really. The State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara returns to present Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic. Dec. 3-6.
Beethoven’s Ninth on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. Another holiday tradition, this one featuring the symphony, the chorale and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”
Labor Day Weekend Parks Concerts, Sept. 5 at Pavillion Park in Liberty Lake, Sept. 7 at Comstock Park in Spokane. These free concerts offer an outdoor setting for light classics, movie music, Broadway standards and patriotic fare.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.