Saturday, February 15, 2014

ISO's 2014-15 season will include a Midwinter Russian Festival, Classical Series returns by two former music directors

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and music director Krzysztof Urbanski will begin their fourth season together next Sept. 14 with an Opening Night Gala featuring one of the most acclaimed of current American concert pianists, Jeremy Denk, playing Beethoven's Concerto No. 1 in C major.
Jeremy Denk will be the gala guest soloist.

The Hilbert Circle Theatre gala is one of eight programs with Urbanski on the podium. Two of them will have the 31-year-old Polish maestro giving extra star power to three successive weekends with a common theme, titled "Fantasy, Fate and War: A Midwinter Russian Festival."

Philippe Quint will be guest soloist in Aram Khachaturian's Violin Concerto the first weekend (Jan. 23 and 24), in a program also including the Rimsky-Korsakov favorite "Scheherazade." The concluding program, with just one performance (Feb. 6), will have Urbanski conducting the first ISO performance of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7 ("Leningrad").

Han-Na Chang will make her ISO conducting debut.
The middle program (Jan. 29-31) will not lack for star power, however. Vadym Kholodenko, winner of the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, will be featured in a performance of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto, with which he wowed the final-round audience in Fort Worth last June. Also making an ISO debut in those concerts will be conductor Han-Na Chang, a South Korean who made quite a name for herself as a concert cellist before picking up the baton.

Raymond Leppard, ISO conductor laureate, who has been regularly seen conducting the orchestra only in the annual Classical Christmas concerts, will return to the subscription season with an all-orchestral program of Mendelssohn, Sibelius and Elgar (March 13 and 14).

Leppard's successor as music director, Mario Venzago, will appear Nov. 20 and 21 in a program highlighted by Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony and featuring percussion superstar Evelyn Glennie in the U.S. premiere of Anders Koppel's Concerto for Aluphone and Orchestra. (The Aluphone is a new mallet-percussion instrument.) That's a rare instance of contemporary music on an ISO program next season; John Adams' "Lollapalooza," to be played on all-American programs conducted by Jeffrey Kahane in late February, dates from 1995. (For the first season since he became music director, Urbanski will not conduct the ISO in a piece from his homeland.)

Other highlights early in the season will include the appearance of Shai Wosner, a pianist whose scheduled ISO debut in October 2012 had to be canceled because of the lockout that preceded agreement on the musicians' current contract. On Sept. 25 and 27, he will play Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor with the ISO.

Mozart aficionados will be able to feast on concerts Oct. 16-18, when Nicolas McGegan returns to the Circle Theatre podium for a program including the Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, with Augustin Hadelich as soloist. Hadelich won the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis in 2006 and has since gone on to a major international career.

Shai Wosner will play a Mozart concerto.
The season's other violin soloists will be ISO concertmaster Zach De Pue (March 19 and 21) in the Samuel Barber concerto and, making her ISO debut, Arabella Steinbacher in the popular Mendelssohn concerto (May 7-9). The latter program brings back a well-received guest conductor, Jun Markl, in a program featuring Berlioz's "Symphonie fantastique."

Other guest-artist debuts next season: conductor Matthew Halls (Oct. 10-11), in a program whose centerpiece is Mozart's "Requiem," with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and four soloists yet to be announced; pianist Alice Sara Ott, in an all-Beethoven program featuring the  Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor (April 10-11); conductor Christopher Altstaedt (April 18) in a concert highlighted by Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation"); and conductor Cristian Macelaru (May 15-16) in two concerts featuring Stravinsky's setting of a Russian folk story called "The Soldier's Tale," with text by native son Kurt Vonnegut (May 15-16).

Urbanski comes front and center to end the season the first two weekends in June with major works: Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor (June 4 and 6) and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor ("Choral"), with the Symphonic Choir and four vocal soloists yet to be announced (June 12-13).

The Pops season, under the direction of Jack Everly, will open Oct. 3 and 4 with "Classical Mystery Tour: 50 Years of the Beatles." Other highlights include a program featuring Broadway star ("Wicked" and "9 to 5: The Musical") Megan Hilty (Nov. 7 and 8) and tribute concerts to Marvin Hamlisch (Oct. 24 and 25) and Simon & Garfunkel (Jan. 16 and 17). A "by-popular-demand" component of the new Pops series is a return engagement by saxophonist Kenny G (May 1 and 2.)

Also announced today is the four-concert afternoon family series, "symFUNy Sundays," which will open Nov. 9 with "The Life and Times of Beethoven," featuring Michael Boudewyns as narrator with a vaudeville-inspired approach.

More information on the seasons is available on the ISO website. Eight-concert, 14-concert and 18-concert subscriptions are available.