Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's in store for 2011-2012

It is that time of year when we musicians take a look at what is coming up next season to keep us entertained and on our toes.

On September 22nd and 23rd, we will be presenting an all-Beethoven show, featuring Alon Goldstein performing the dark and stormy Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor and culminating in the Eroica Symphony. October brings Dvorak's New World Symphony to town, and a Pops concert featuring Michael Feinstein and the Sinatra Project.

On November 17 and 18 one of my favorite concerts ever will occur. This will feature a standard I have never played (yes, there still are some-- this season it was Les Preludes; next season, the Enesco Rumanian Rhapsody), a work I (and most cellists) love dearly (the Dvorak Cello Concerto featuring cellist Zuill Bailey), and a major 20th-century masterpiece (Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra).

On January 19 and 20, 2012, we welcome guest conductor Edward Cumming to Knoxville, where he will lead an all-Mozart concert which ends with the iconic Symphony No. 40 in G minor. Then for something completely different, we bring out the big guns in February with Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, (No. 2), a spectacular work with chorus which needs no overture or concerto to bolster it.

The concentration of music in March is very thick. The Chamber Classics concert on March 4th will feature Stravinsky’s L’histoire du Soldat and his Concerto in D, and will finish with Schoenberg’s dreamy Transfigured Night. All this happens one day after a Pops concert dubbed a “Celtic Celebration.” At the end of March, we go interplanetary, presenting Holst’s The Planets.

On April 19 and 20, 2012, writer Jack Prelutski (of Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant fame) will narrate Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals; Schubert’s awesome Unfinished Symphony will open the show. The season finishes in May with a Pops concert tribute to the Carpenters on the 12th and the Masterworks finale on the following weekend will be an all-French show featuring Ravel’s perky Piano Concerto in G and Debussy’s classic La Mer.

Personally, (and I might add, as usual), there is a lot to look forward to here. The Ravel piano concerto is a desert-island piece for me. A gorgeous slow movement with a luscious English horn solo with mile-long phrases is framed by two somewhat crazy outer movements that have jazz written all over them. Transfigured Night (or Verklaerte Nacht) is an early work of Schoenberg’s, originally composed as a sextet but arranged here for string orchestra. It is a landmark work that bungee-jumps off of the cliff of traditional harmony into the abyss of atonality. The Planets, Mahler 2 and the Bartok Concerto are all giant, fascinating works that represent live classical music at its best.

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