Question: What do the following have in common – a Shakespeare play, a Humphrey Bogart film, a mime troupe and a jazz saxophonist?
Answer: The N.C. Symphony’s 2014-15 season.
Between September 2014 and May 2015, the orchestra will offer a wide range of musical genres and participating artists, exploding the stereotype that symphony orchestras concentrate primarily on Bach, Beethoven and Brahms (although they, too, will be represented next season).
With four different series in Raleigh and programming in five additional cities totaling more than 70 concerts, the N.C. Symphony can reasonably claim to have something for everyone.
The season’s centerpiece is the Raleigh classical series of 14 two-night concerts in Meymandi Concert Hall. The season opener in September has noted jazz recording artist Branford Marsalis performing saxophone works by Glazunov and Schulhoff.
The season ends with a cooperative venture from Chapel Hill’s Playmakers Repertory Company, a staging of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in May employing Mendelssohn’s 1842 music written to accompany the play and Korngold’s scoring for the 1935 film.
In between, there is innovative and unusual programming, including an evening of Copland works in November that resulted from his visits to Mexico and the premiere of a new work in April 2015 commissioned from composer Sarah Kirkland Snider. Cellist Zuill Bailey’s return in February 2015 for Prokofiev’s “Sinfonia concertante,” will be recorded live for the Telarc label.
Popular classics are on the season as well, including Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (with soloist Di Wu in October), Brahms’ Violin Concerto (with soloist Augustin Hadelich in November) and Dvorák’s “New World” Symphony (with guest conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto in January 2015). Two special off-series classical concerts bring back top international performers – pianist Lang Lang and violinist Joshua Bell.
The orchestra expands its popular Friday Favorites series in Meymandi Concert Hall to six concerts next season. These hourlong programs, drawn from the Raleigh classical series, start at noon and are geared to the downtown area lunch crowd, as well as groups of students.
On the lighter side, the orchestra’s Pop Series in Raleigh has six programs, half with two performances and half with three. They include two film showings, “West Side Story” in September and “Casablanca” in February 2015, both with the orchestra providing live accompaniment, as well as a tribute to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald (January 2015) and a Best of Broadway concert (April 2015).
The orchestra continues its commitment to introducing children to classical music with three two-performance Young People’s Concerts. The Magic Circle Mime Co. helps with “Phantoms of the Orchestra” (November), Triangle Youth Ballet participates in “Peter and the Wolf” (January 2015) and Classical Kids Live! brings to life “Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage” (March 2015).
The Chapel Hill Series in UNC’s Memorial Hall has eight concerts drawn from the Raleigh classical series, while programming in Southern Pines, Wilmington, New Bern and Fayetteville offers a mix of classical and pops concerts.
Music director Grant Llewellyn, resident conductor William Henry Curry and six guest conductors lead the orchestra throughout the season. Also, after several years’ hiatus, the position of associate conductor is back, filled by David Glover, previously assistant conductor for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. His duties include assisting with the season’s programs as well as conducting educational concerts in schools across the state.
Experiencing the thrilling power of an unamplified live orchestra is becoming an ever rarer option. The N.C. Symphony provides ample opportunity to indulge.