First, Beethoven. Then, Mendelssohn. And soon, Nielsen.
Utah audiences will get to know composer Carl Nielsen better during the Utah Symphony's 2013-14 season, which was announced Wednesday afternoon at the orchestra's home, Abravanel Hall, by music director Thierry Fischer, principal pops conductor Jerry Steichen, associate conductor Vladimir Kulenovic, and president/CEO Melia Tourangeau.
Fischer will lead the orchestra through all six of the Danish composer's symphonies, following prior season cycles for Beethoven (in 2011-12) and Mendelssohn (in the current season, which wraps in May).
In an interview before the announcement, Fischer acknowledged that Nielsen isn't as well-known as the other composers he has emphasized as head of the orchestra. "Our mission as programmers is to open up that pleasure is in discovering, not just recognition," Fischer said a day after flying into Utah from Switzerland. "For people excited by unconventional concerts, there will be Nielsen. … After the Beethoven and Mendelssohn cycles, I think that our audience and orchestra are ready for Nielsen."
Fischer chose Nielsen (1865-1931) because the maestro believes the composer's uniquely different symphonies will "represent all of the sides of the Utah Symphony." Nielsen's six symphonies show that he was a progressive, risk-taking composer, who began as an admirer of Brahms but underwent a metamorphosis into a forward-thinking believer in experimentation. "Each symphony shows an evolution," Fischer said.
Other highlights include:
• World-premiere commission of a percussion concerto by American composer Andrew Norman, to be debuted by the Scottish percussionist Colin Currie. Fischer said one of his mandates when he took the music director position was to commission pieces that would further cement Utah as a place that performs at a high level while also premiering new works.
• Beethoven's Triple Concerto will open the season the weekend of Sept. 13, with guests Philip Setzer on violin, David Finckel on cello and Wu Han on piano. Finckel and Wu Han are married, and at the end of the current concert season, Finckel will leave the acclaimed Emerson String Quartet (which includes Setzer).
• Performances of Berlioz's "The Damnation of Faust," Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," Mahler's Symphony No. 5 and Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 ("From the New World").
• British conductor Mark Wigglesworth will conduct the orchestra on two successive weekends. Fischer acknowledged it's unusual to engage a guest conductor twice in the same season and said he hopes Wigglesworth will be part of a special pool of conductors who will be regular guests in Utah.
• Cellist Matthew Zalkind, who was raised in Utah and is the son of Utah Symphony principal trombonist Larry Zalkind and associate principal violist Roberta Zalkind, will perform on the season's closing weekend. "It's a fabulous story," Fischer said. "It's a community story. … We want to promote talents that are Utah-grown."
• Fischer said it's also important to spotlight orchestra members as concerto soloists. Next season will feature associate concertmaster Kathryn Eberle in the Bernstein Serenade.
• Other guests include Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell, fiddler Natalie MacMaster, flutist Emmanuel Pahud, violinist Itamar Zorman, and conductors Yan Pascal Tortelier, Hans Graf, Nicholas McGegan and Andrey Boreyko.
• Pops concerts include "Disney's Pixar in Concert," "The Magic of Harry Potter" and "The Beat Goes On! The Music of the Baby Boomers."
• "Remembering JFK" the weekend of Nov. 22 will commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. Fischer will lead the orchestra though a program that includes Britten's "An American Overture," Stravinsky's "Elegy to JFK," Peter Lieberson's "Remembering JFK" and Nielsen's Symphony No. 4 ("The Inextinguishable").
Catherine Reese Newtoncontributed to this report.
Utah Symphony | Utah Opera's 2013-14 season. Orchestra concerts are in Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City; operas at the Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, except as noted.
Sept. 13-14 • Masterworks: Beethoven, "Egmont" Overture and Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano; Wagner, "Forest Murmurs" from "Siegfried"; Nielsen, Symphony No. 1. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Philip Setzer, violin; David Finckel, cello; Wu Han, piano.
Sept. 20-21 • Masterworks: Tchaikovsky, "1812" Overture and Lensky's Aria from "Eugene Onegin" (transcribed for flute by Emmanuel Pahud); Carter, Flute Concerto; Mozart, Flute Concerto No. 2; Strauss, Suite from "Der Rosenkavalier." Thierry Fischer, conductor; Emmanuel Pahud, flute.
Sept. 27-28 • Masterworks: Berlioz, "The Damnation of Faust." Thierry Fischer, conductor; Michael Spyres, Faust; Kate Lindsey, Marguerite; Roderick Williams, Méphistophélés; Utah Symphony Chorus.
Oct. 1 • Family: Salute to Youth. Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor; young soloists chosen by audition.
Oct. 18 and 20 • Opera: Richard Strauss, "Salome"; semistaged performance in Abravanel Hall.
Oct. 25-26 • Masterworks: Dukas, "Fanfare" from "La Peri" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"; Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 25; Sibelius, Symphony No. 5; Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor; Orion Weiss, piano.
Oct. 29 • Family: "A Superhero Halloween." Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor.
Nov. 1-2 • Entertainment: Brian Stokes Mitchell. Jerry Steichen, conductor.
Nov. 8-9 • Masterworks: Vivaldi, "The Four Seasons"; Nielsen, Symphony No. 2 ("The Four Temperaments"). Thierry Fischer, conductor; Nicola Benedetti, violin.
Nov. 14-16 and 17 • Special Opera Event: Kathleen Cahill, "Fatal Song"; cabaret-style performance in the Jeanné Wagner Theatre.
Nov. 15-16 • Masterworks: Haydn, Symphony No. 4; Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 3; Mozart, Overture to "The Magic Flute"; Nielsen, Symphony No. 3 ("Sinfonia Espansiva"). Thierry Fischer, conductor; Ronald Brautigam, piano.
Nov. 22-23 • Masterworks: Britten, "An American Overture" and "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra"; Nielsen, Symphony No. 4 ("The Inextinguishable"); Peter Lieberson, "Remembering JFK." Thierry Fischer, conductor.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 • Special Event: 35th Annual "Messiah" Sing-In. Susanne Sheston, conductor; Utah Symphony Chorus.
Dec. 6-7 • Masterworks: Dutilleux, "The Starry Night"; Schubert, Symphony No. 8 ("Unfinished"); Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 3 ("Polish"); Hans Graf, conductor.
Dec. 13-14 • Entertainment: Holiday Swing. Jerry Steichen, conductor; Byron Stripling, trumpet/vocals.
Dec. 14 • Lollipops: "Here Comes Santa Claus!" Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor.
Jan. 3-4 • Special Event: "Disney's Pixar in Concert." Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor.
Jan. 10-11 • Masterworks: Matthias Pintscher, "Towards Osiris"; Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 4; Dvorák, Symphony No. 8. Matthias Pintscher, conductor; Inon Barnatan, piano.
Jan. 18-26 • Opera: Verdi, "La Traviata."
Jan. 31-Feb. 1 • Masterworks: Qigang Chen, "Wu Xing (The Five Elements)"; Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 3; Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 4. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Conrad Tao, piano.
Feb. 7-8 • Masterworks: Mozart, Mass in C Major ("Trinity"); Shostakovich, Symphony No. 7 ("Leningrad"). Thierry Fischer, conductor; Utah Symphony Chorus.
Feb. 14-15 • Masterworks: Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto and "Waltz of the Flowers" from "The Nutcracker"; Mozart, Overture to "The Marriage of Figaro"; Cage, "Amores"; Mahler, "Blumine"; Bizet, "Carmen" Suite; Piazzolla, "Libertango"; Mendelssohn, "Wedding March" from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Thierry Fischer, conductor; Itamar Zorman, violin.
Feb. 18 • Family: "The Magic of Harry Potter." Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor.
Feb. 21-22 • Entertainment: Natalie MacMaster, fiddle; Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor.
Feb. 28-March 1 • Masterworks: Albert Schnelzer, "A Freak in Burbank" (U.S. premiere); Grieg, Piano Concerto; Sibelius, Symphony No. 2. Mark Wiggleworth, conductor; Alexander Melrikov, piano.
March 7-8 • Masterworks: Mozart, Symphony No. 35 ("Haffner"); Lutoslawski, Symphony No. 4; Dvorák, Symphony No. 9 ("From the New World"). Mark Wiggleworth, conductor.
March 15 • Lollipops: Bruce Adolphe, "Tyrannosaurus Sue: A Cretaceous Concerto." Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor.
March 15-23 • Opera: Puccini, "Turandot."
March 28-29 • Entertainment: "A Rodgers & Hammerstein Celebration." Jerry Steichen, conductor; Utah Symphony Chorus.
April 11-12 • Masterworks: Mozart, "Eine kleine Nachtmusik"; Bernstein, "Serenade After Plato's Symposium" and "Candide" Overture; Nielsen, Symphony No. 5. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Kathryn Eberle, violin.
April 18-19 • Masterworks: Pachelbel, Canon; Andrew Norman, Percussion Concerto (world premiere); Mahler, Symphony No. 5. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Colin Currie, percussion.
April 25-26 • Masterworks: Rimsky-Korsakov, "Russian Easter" Overture; Messiaen, "L'Ascension"; Tchaikovsky, Suite No. 3. Andrey Boreyko, conductor.
May 2-3 • Entertainment: "The Beat Goes On! The Music of the Baby Boomers." Jack Everly, conductor.
May 10-18 • Opera: Mozart, "The Abduction From the Seraglio."
May 20 • Family: All-Star Evening. Vladimir Kulenovic, conductor; youth soloist chosen by audition.
May 23-24 • Masterworks: Tchaikovsky, Variations on a Rococo Theme; Nielsen, Symphony No. 6 ("Sinfonia Semplice"); Rachmaninoff, Symphonic Dances. Thierry Fischer, conductor; Matthew Zalkind, cello.
See the schedule
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