Monday, February 27, 2017

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra announces a star-studded 2017-18 season

"America's diva,"  soprano Renee Fleming, will highlight the new season of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, in the
annual Gala Opening concert. In both the classical and pops series, 2017-18 will feature an A-list roster of debuting and returning guest artists.

Renee Fleming will grace the Opening Night Gala concert in her ISO debut.
With music director Krzysztof Urbanski on the podium, Fleming will make her ISO debut on Sept. 23, performing pieces that were not part of today's announcement. She is the type of American opera star that Americans like — personable, down-to-earth, and versatile. If opera had quite the cachet it had in the mid- to late 20th century, hers would probably be a household name, as was the beloved Beverly Sills.

But Fleming moved closer to that exalted status when she sang the national anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl. In her principal claim to fame on the opera stage, Fleming established her reputation a few decades ago with acclaimed performances, dramatically and vocally acute,  embracing a range from Handel to Strauss. She has also recorded popular music in a voice suitable to the genre.

Two special events have been announced, representing the ISO's wide  range. "La La Land" may have been a wrong-envelope victim at last night's Academy Awards, but it is still a movie with a huge amount of buzz. It will be featured, with composer Justin Hurwitz joining principal pops conductor Jack Everly onstage, as the ISO accompanies a showing of the film Sept. 13.

Justin Hurwitz, "La La Land" composer
The other "special" is a "Bon Voyage Concert," representing a local presentation of what the ISO will offer in the 2018 SHIFT Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.,  during a mini-residency there. On April 11 at Hilbert Circle Theatre, Urbanski will conduct performances of two works from his native Poland, Lutoslawski's Cello Concerto and Penderecki's "Credo." Returning to the ISO schedule will be cellist Alisa Weilerstein in the former piece; the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and the Indianapolis Children's Choir will be essential partners in the Penderecki.

Alisa Weilerstein will be part of ISO's D.C. mini-residency.
Among the highlights in the Classical Series is a focus on Mozart's final year (1791) in the annual "festival" bracketing of concerts — this time moved from mid-winter to the end of the season (June 1-2 and 8 and 10). The works will be the Austrian composer's Overture to La Clemenza di Tito, the Piano Concerto No. 27, and the Requiem the first weekend; a concert presentation of "The Magic Flute" on the second. Popular guest artist Emanuel Ax and the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir will be involved. The cast for "The Magic Flute" has yet to be selected.

Besides Ax and Weilerstein, returning guest artists include baritone Thomas Hampson, mezzo-soprano Kelly O'Connor, violinists Joshua Bell, Karen Gomyo, Augustin Hadelich, and Vadim Gluzman; pianists Yefim Bronfman, Kirill Gerstein, Garrick Ohlsson, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Anna Vinnitskaya. Along with debut pianist Alon Goldstein, Ohlsson and Vinnitskaya will be featured in a one-weekend traversal of all five Prokofiev piano concertos (Nov. 17 and 18).


Gustavo Gimeno will be among first-time ISO guest conductors.
Conductors making their ISO debuts include rising star Karina Canellakis, Gustavo Gimeno, Bramwell Tovey and Nikolaj Znaider. Returning podium guests will be Andrey Boreyko, Hans Graf, Michael Francis, Nicholas McGegan, Jun Märkl, and Matthew Halls.

ISO principals in the spotlight will be concertmaster Zach DePue and cellist Austin Huntington as soloists in Brahms' Double Concerto (Nov. 9-11), under Urbanski's baton.

Notable new and modern music will be represented by an ISO co-commission, Andrew Norman's Violin Concerto (with Jennifer Koh the soloist), and also James Macmillan's "Sinfonietta" and Wojciech Kilar's "Orawa."

On the Pops side, Everly has programmed a return guest appearance by Broadway star Audra McDonald (Feb. 9 and 10), Tony Award-winner Kelli O'Hara in a Rodgers and Hammerstein program, an accompanied showing of the film "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," a pops series debut (though he hosted the 2016 Yuletide Celebration) by Indianapolis' "The Voice" champ Josh Kaufman, and a Simon & Garfunkel tribute concert, among other events.

A full schedule, with all dates and repertoire, can be obtained by visiting the ISO website. Patrons can renew subscriptions before April 28 by phone [(317) 639-4300], by mail or in person at the Hilbert Circle Theatre box office.