The North Carolina Symphony's 2011/12 season promises the same masterful programming and compelling guest artists that concertgoers have come to expect of the state's premier performing arts organization. Music Director Grant Llewellyn begins his seventh NCS season with a powerful ensemble of musicians who approach the repertoire with power, passion and panache and whose affinity for great music brings out the colors, textures and moods of a copious range of works.
"As always," says Llewellyn, "the fourteen weeks of the Classical subscription series are conceived with opening, closing and middle structures, providing an arc to the season from September to May. We have devised, we hope, a concert series which celebrates our art form and its future. The focus is, as always, the orchestra. Our players continue to meet the highest standards of their profession and have proved their quality in concerts, broadcasts and recordings to increasing national and international recognition."
The Duke Medicine Raleigh Classical Series opens with performances on September 8 &10, 2011, with three commanding and emotive works chosen to remember the dead and honor the heroes of 9/11 on the tenth anniversary of that tragedy. Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, which begins the performance, has special resonance for Llewellyn, who was performing the work with the Handel & Haydn Society in Boston when the attack occurred. This Thread, by J. Mark Scearce, is the composer's personal response to 9/11. Based on a text by Toni Morrison, the piece is considered his most moving. The final work, Mozart's Requiem, was part of a world-wide commemoration of 9/11 performed around the world by orchestras, including the North Carolina Symphony, on the event's first anniversary in 2002.
Other highlights from the season's repertoire include some of the most artistically muscular works of the orchestral canon including Beethoven's Symphony No. 8; Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5; Mahler's Symphony No. 4; Haydn's Symphony No. 82, "La Poule;" Bizet's Symphony in C; Brahms Symphony No. 1; Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 1 and Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra (better known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey). Audiences will hear piano concertos by Poulenc, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Mozart as well as concertos for cello and violin, and Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. North Carolina Symphony musicians Brian Reagin, concertmaster and Dovid Friedlander, associate concertmaster, will be featured soloists this season.
Guest artists making their debut on the Duke Medicine Classical Series include violinist Augustin Hadelich, cellist Johannes Moser, cimbalom player Petra Berenyi. and sisters Christina and Michelle Naughton, performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos. Returning to the North Carolina Symphony will be pianists Pascal Rogé, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Louis Lortie, and Stephen Hough, as well as harpist Catrin Finch and cimbalom player Petra Berenyi. Vocalists include Dominique Labelle, Krista River, Rick Clement, Christopheren Nomura, Christina Pier, Barbara Shirvis, Heather Buck and Jason McKinney. The North Carolina Master Chorale will also make several appearances over the course of the season.
Exciting young guest conductors Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Joana Caneiro and Andrew Grams will lead the orchestra in October, February and March. Harth-Bedoya, Music Director of the Fort Worth Symphony, has conducted all of the major US orchestras and most of the European ones. Peruvian by birth and educated here, he is both acclaimed and sought-after. Also attracting attention in the music world, Portuguese-born Joana Caneiro is Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony and a rising star to watch, as is Andrew Grams, former assistant conductor the Cleveland Orchestra
Out of the fourteen Classical Series concerts, Llewellyn has identified three compelling smaller series. "These are colorful sub-plots, if you will, that we hope will capture people's imaginations," he says. "Piano Icons, Universal Voices and Passports are distinct and meaningful themes within the whole."
The Piano Icons series emerged from a desire to highlight composer-pianists such as Liszt and Rachmaninoff juxtaposed with major world class pianists. Pascal Rogé, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Louis Lortie, and Stephen Hough bring their prodigious skills to great piano works by Poulenc, Beethoven, Liszt and Rachmaninoff.
Universal Voices focuses on some of the great works that celebrate the expressive power of the human voice. Four vibrant evenings will offer some of the most beautiful and profound music to hear live in a concert hall including Mozart's Requiem, Mahler's Symphony No. 4, Strauss's Four Last Songs and Orff's Carmina Burana.