Music director Franz Welser-Most and the Cleveland Orchestra will perform Jan. 24.

Image: Michael Pohn

Like other Sarasota arts organizations, the Sarasota Concert Association had to cut this past season’s 75th anniversary concert schedule a bit short due to COVID-19. But SCA is moving ahead with plans for its 2021 Great Performers Series, to run Jan. 14 through March 16, 2021.

Joy McIntyre, SCA’s board president, says, “Our decision to cancel our final concerts was, of course, a great loss. But it was the right thing to do for our patrons and the community.” She adds that the board still looks forward to a spectacular 2021 season, despite recent economic setbacks.

That season begins by welcoming the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra with Pavel Kogan, music director, and Blake Pouliot, violin, on Jan. 14. The MSSO, founded in 1943, is one of Russia’s oldest symphony orchestras, and its wide-ranging programs combine orchestra, operatic and choral classics with music of the 21st century, including some forgotten or neglected works.

Perhaps the biggest draw of the season will be The Cleveland Orchestra (considered one of the country’s “Big Five” orchestras), under music director Franz Welser-Möst, marking his 19th year in that position. The New York Times has declared Cleveland under Welser-Möst’s direction to be the “best American orchestra” for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color and chamber-like musical cohesion. Piano sensation Yuja Wang will perform with the orchestra, on Jan.24.

The Great Performers Series continues on Jan. 28 with the Bach Collegium Japan, an ensemble of instrumentalists and singers formed in 1990 by Masaaki Suzuki, the internationally renowned Bach performer, organist, harpsichordist, conductor and musicologist.

The Takacs Quartet, performing Feb. 25.

Image: Amanda Tipton

That’s followed by the Takacs Quartet, performing on Feb. 25. This is the only quartet named to Gramophone’s first-ever Hall of Fame. Based in Boulder at the University of Colorado, the quartet’s members, Edward Dusinberre, Harumi Rhodes, Geraldine Walther and Andras Fejer, perform 80 concerts a year worldwide. They will be joined by pianist Joyce Yang, who received the 2010 Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Pianist Joyce Yang

Violinist Benjamin Beilman and pianist Yekwon Sunwoo join forces for the March 1 concert; both have won global acclaim. And the season will conclude March 16 with the return of pianist Emanuel Ax, a frequent performer in Sarasota who has established himself as a preeminent recitalist, chamber musician and guest soloist with orchestra.

Pianist Emanuel Ax, performing March 16.

Four of the concerts are at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; two at the Riverview Performing Arts Center. Single tickets and online purchases go on sale Aug. 1. For subscription information, call (941) 225-6500; you can also download subscription forms at scasarasota.org/tickets.

SCA also presents Music Matinees, a free concert series designed to offer a variety of musical genres. That season will be announced in August.

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