NJ Symphony Orchestra announces 2019-20 season

NJSO 2019-20 season preview

FRED STUCKER

Xian Zhang, with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has given its 2019-20 season the title of “Front and Center,” and Jan. 25 at NJPAC in Newark, at a press conference announcing the season, music director Xian Zhang explained what that means.

“I think the title says it all … we are really bringing other art forms, like ballet, opera, film, onto our stage, into our concerts,” she said. “So they will be front and center, in that sense.”

For instance, the season-opening concerts, Oct. 11-13, will feature Holst’s The Planets along with a film featuring NASA footage of the planets. The symphony sometimes accompanies films — from the “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” series, for instance — by playing the score live, as the film is screened. But this is something different.

“That was the music serving the film,” Zhang said. “In this case … the music existed first, and people loved it so much that they wanted to make a film to go with it, for people to enjoy even more, visually.”

NJSO director of artistic planning Patrick Chamberlin, who also spoke at the press conference, added that the film was “created in real time, so you can take whatever tempo you want with the orchestra. It can be different from night to night. There’s a projectionist, speeding up or slowing down. It’s not like we’re synchronizing to a pre-existing film score.”

The orchestra happens to be concluding its 2018-29 Winter Festival this weekend. In the 2019-20 Winter Festival, said Zhang, “we’re bringing ballet: We’re playing Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet excerpts. We’re bringing opera into our concerts: We’re doing (Mozart’s) Don Giovanni. And we’ll be in collaboration with The Met’s young artists program. This program features all the wonderful, up-and-coming singers, to help them emerge …

“And then we’re playing, in the Winter Festival, The Ring Without Words. It’s by my conducting teacher, Maestro Lorin Maazel, his own arrangement. I feel very loyal to this arrangement; there are other ones. But this one, really … it takes all the good bits out of The Ring Cycle … you take all the good melodies, everything, into 60 minutes of very condensed, beautiful music …

“So that’s our Winter Festival. It’s very different from this (current) one, (which is) all about poetry. Next year, the Winter Festival will be all about stage. Music that was composed for the stage. We’re taking the orchestra from the pit, to the front and center of the stage.”

ELIAS PHOTOGRAPHY

LOUIS LORTIE

Also, 2020 will mark the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth. “So of course, how can we forget Beethoven?” said Zhang.

The season will include Beethoven’s Second and Third symphonies, as well as all five of his piano concertos. “We know the audience here very much enjoys piano concertos,” said Zhang. “Whenever we do piano, we always get a very warm response. So I thought, ‘Why don’t we do all five piano concertos in one week?’

“That was a very wild idea, because why would a pianist do five concertos in a week? That’s just crazy. They would do one, for one week, maybe make three concerts (of it). That’s just ordinary.

“So we asked Louis Lortie, who I just worked with in Ottawa, with the National Arts Centre. He was fantastic; he played Mozart with me. Wonderful classical interpreter. So we contacted him, and it turned out, he accepted. He said, ‘Yes, I will do five concertos in one week with you.’ I thought that was fantastic, and to honor that — it’s a very unusual request — we’re naming him the artist-in-residence. This is a new thing with the New Jersey Symphony. We don’t normally do it. But I think it’s fantastic, with his reputation. It’s great for us, and it’s great to do more than just one project with one artist, so he will be back to play Mozart, as well, another piano concerto (in June 2020).”

Subscriptions for the season are now on sale; single tickets will go on sale in August. Visit njsymphony.org.

Here is the schedule (pops concerts will be announced at a later date).

Holst’s The Planets in HD

Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. at NJPAC in Newark; Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank

Xian Zhang, conductor; Women of Newark Voices, Heather J. Buchanan, conductor

Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1

Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Hiraeth (with film by Mark Dechiazza)

Holst’s The Planets — An HD Odyssey (with film)

Grieg’s Piano Concerto

Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. at BergenPAC in Englewood; Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. at the Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University; Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank; Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark

Markus Stenz, conductor; Juho Pohjonen, piano

Rebel’s “Chaos” from Les élémens

Grieg’s Piano Concerto

Brahms’ Symphony No. 2

LAWRENCE TSANG

NING FENG

Spanish- and French-Inspired Showpieces

Nov. 7 at 1:30 p.m. and Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown

Xian Zhang, conductor; Ning Feng, violin

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriliccio espagnol

Qigang Chen’s La joie de la souffrance for Violin and Orchestra

Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriliccioso

Falla’s Suite No. 2 from The Three-Cornered Hat

Family: Peter and the Wolf

Nov. 16 at 2 and 3:30 p.m. at the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark

Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto

Dec. 5 at 1:30 p.m., Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. at the State Theatre in New Brunswick

Xian Zhang, conductor; George Li, piano

Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3

Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8

Handel’s Messiah

Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University; Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark

Roderick Cox, conductor; Amanda Woodbury, soprano; J’Nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano; Frederick Ballentine, tenor; Douglas Williams, bass-baritone; Montclair State University Singers, Heather J. Buchanan, conductor

Handel’s Messiah

MARCO BORGGREVE

INON BARNATAN

Winter Festival: Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet

Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank; Jan. 5 at 3 p.m. at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown

Xian Zhang, conductor; Inon Barnatan, piano

Smetana’s “The Moldau” from Má vlast

Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto

Prokofiev’s Selections from Romeo and Juliet

Winter Festival: Mozart’s Don Giovanni

Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m. at BergenPAC in Englewood; Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; Jan. 12, at 3 p.m. at the State Theatre in New Brunswick

Xian Zhang, conductor; Eric Wyrick, violin; Singers from the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program

Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate

Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4

Mozart’s Scenes from Don Giovanni

Winter Festival: Wagner’s The Ring Without Words

Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. at the Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University; Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. at the State Theatre in New Brunswick; Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark

Xian Zhang, conductor Simon Trpceski, piano

Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin

Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2

Wagner’s The Ring Without Words (arr. Maazel)

Lunar New Year Celebration

Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark

Xian Zhang, conductor; Soloists, performers and program details to be announced

CHRISTOPH KONIG

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto

Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. and March 1 at 3 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; Feb. 29 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick

Christoph König, conductor; Simone Porter, violin

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6

Beethoven’s Piano Concertos 1 & 5

March 19 at 7:30 p.m. at BergenPAC in Englewood; March 20 at 8 p.m. at the Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University

Xian Zhang, conductor; Louis Lortie, piano

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”

Beethoven’s Piano Concertos 2, 3 & 4

March 21 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; March 22 at 3 p.m. at the State Theatre in New Brunswick

Xian Zhang, conductor; Louis Lortie, piano

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4

Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony

March 26 at 1:30 p.m. and March 27 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; March 28 at 8 p.m. at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank; March 29 at 3 p.m. at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown

Xian Zhang, conductor; Robert Wagner, bassoon

Rossini’s Overture to Guillaume Tell

Christopher Rouse’s Bassoon Concerto

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony

April 2 at 7:30 p.m. at BergenPAC in Englewood; April 4 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; April 5 at 3 p.m. at the State Theatre in New Brunswick

Henrik Nánási, conductor

Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5

Brahms, Vivaldi & Beethoven

May 1 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall of NJPAC in Newark; May 2 at 8 p.m. at the State Theatre in New Brunswick; May 3 at 3 p.m. at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown

Nicholas McGegan, conductor; Rubén Rengel, violin; Eduardo Rios, violin; Adriana Rosin, violin; Na-Young Baek, cello

Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn

Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins in B-flat Major, RV 529

Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin and Cello in B-flat Major, RV 547

Vivaldi’s Concerto for Three Violins in F Major, RV 551

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2

Family: The “New World” Symphony & Beyond!

May 9 at 2 and 3:30 p.m. at Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark

TAKAKI KUMADA

AKIKO SUWANAI

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

May 15 at 8 p.m. at the Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University; May 16 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; May 17 at 3 p.m. at the State Theatre in New Brunswick

Andrey Boreyko, conductor; Akiko Suwanai, violin

Mason Bates’ Attack Decay Sustain Release

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10

Season Finale: Mozart & Mahler

June 4 at 1:30 p.m. and June 7 at 3 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark June 5 at 8 p.m. at the Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University; June 6 at 8 p.m. at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank

Xian Zhang, conductor; Louis Lortie, piano

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24

Mahler’s Symphony No. 7

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