Despite today’s uncertainties, arts organizations are moving ahead with plans for their 2020-21 seasons, including the Sarasota Orchestra, which has announced its schedule for its Masterworks, Pops, Great Escapes and other musical series.
The orchestra, like other arts entities, had to cancel some of its concerts at the close of this season. But some new and familiar faces will feature in the coming season, which will once more welcome guest conductors, as the orchestra continues its search for a new artistic director. A committee led by artistic advisor (and director of the Sarasota Music Festival) Jeffrey Kahane has worked with those conductors to program concerts that both appeal to audiences and to the interests and tastes of the conductors themselves. And, of course, guest soloists from the world of both classical and popular music will join the musicians in presenting those concerts.
First, a look at the orchestra’s Masterworks Series concerts (seven in all), beginning Nov. 6-8. Kahane will lead concerts devoted to Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2. That’s followed by the Beethoven Violin Concerto, Dec. 4-6 (as the composer’s 250th birthday continues to be celebrated), with New Bedford Symphony music director Yaniv Dinur conducting and Angelo Xiang Yu performing on violin. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 is also on that program.
“Musical Heroines” are the focus of the next Masterworks concerts, Jan. 7-10, with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto filling the concert hall. Guest conductor will be Kensho Watanabe, former assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Isata Kanneh-Mason will perform as pianist.
Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique is a highlight of the next concerts in the series, Feb. 4-7, with Pacific Symphony music director Carl St. Clair paying a return visit as conductor and violinist Augustin Hadelich guesting, as Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto is also on the bill.
Mussorgsky’s popular Pictures at an Exhibition dominates the Feb. 18-21 concerts, with returning conductor Marcelo Lehninger (music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony) and guest pianist Orion Weiss. Dvorak’s New World Symphony highlights the March 19-21 concerts, which welcome Omaha Symphony music director Thomas Wilkins and violinist Chee-Yun. And the Masterworks series closes out April 9-11 with Kahane again at the podium and Garrick Ohlsson at the piano, performing Rachmaninoff’s challenging Piano Concerto No. 3.
The orchestra’s Pops Series will bring favorites from Broadway, film, TV, rock, jazz and more to the stage. Guest conductors will lead three programs. Unforgettable: The American Songbook offers romantic songs from Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and more, conducted by Sean O’Loughlin and featuring vocalists Nick Ziobro and Julia Goodwin, Jan. 22 and 23; The Envelope Please celebrates songs and scores that have won Grammys, Tonys and Oscars, March 5 and 6, with guest conductor Christopher Confessore and vocalists Susan Egan, Douglas LeBrecque and Lisa Vroman; and Revolution: Music of the Beatles (April 16 and 17) honors the Fab Four with a symphonic tribute led by Stuart Malina.
An eight-concert Chamber Soiree series presents the orchestra’s ensembles, performing music composed with strings, horns and winds in mind, and the Great Escape Series, likewise offered at Holley Hall, will range from “Jingle Bells Forever” to “Beethoven at the Movies” to “Journey on the Orient Express,” beginning in October and continuing through April. And a trio of concerts aimed at “Discovering Mozart” features musicians all making their Sarasota debuts with concerts at the Sarasota Opera House.
New subscriptions are on sale now, with brochures available by adding your name and address at sarasotaorchestra.org or by calling the box office at 953-3434.