With concertos by Haydn and Brahms, ballet music by Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, instrumental music from operas by Britten and Strauss, and dances by Kodaly and Saint-Saens, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s 2012-13 season is truly international in scope.
That global approach also applies to the guest artists who have been invited to appear, a lineup that includes pianists from Ireland and Russia, a percussionist from Scotland, and American violinists with Korean and Israeli backgrounds.
Three of this season’s soloists are returning favorites while four others will be making their Oklahoma City Philharmonic debuts. The orchestra’s 24th season also will feature works by composers representing nine countries and music that spans nearly 250 years. As always, guest artists and repertoire are subject to change.
Kicking off the classics series Sept. 15 is a grand opening night concert that features “Autumn” from Glazunov’s ballet “The Seasons” and Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.” Pianist Conrad Tao will make his Oklahoma City Philharmonic debut in Dohnanyi’s “Variations on a Nursery Tune” and Liszt’s “Totentanz.”
“Songs of Land and Sea” is the theme for the Oct. 6 concert, one that will feature Glinka’s “Kamarinskya,” the “Four Sea Interludes” from Britten’s opera “Peter Grimes” and Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta.” Nearly two decades have passed since Gil Shaham appeared with the orchestra. He’ll be the featured soloist in Brahms’ “Violin Concerto in D Major.”
The fall portion of the season draws to a close Nov. 17 with a program titled “Blazing Colors with a French Twist.” This all-French concert will feature principal violist Royce McLarry in Berlioz’s “Harold in Italy” and Barry Douglas in Saint-Saens’ “Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor.” Rounding out the concert will be Saint-Saens’ “Danse Macabre.”
Scheduled Jan. 12 is “Pristine Visions,” a program that pairs Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 8 in G Major” with Beethoven’s “Violin Concerto in D Major.” Returning favorite Stefan Jackiw will be the soloist in the Beethoven.
Colin Currie will make his Philharmonic debut Feb. 2 in a performance of Jennifer Higdon’s “Percussion Concerto.” The “Motion & Emotion” concert also will feature Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake.”
The March 2 concert, titled “Force of Destiny” will feature the overture to Verdi’s opera “La Forza del Destino” and Brahms’ “Symphony No. 1.” Zuill Bailey will make his Philharmonic debut in a performance of Haydn’s “Cello Concerto in C Major.”
“Russian Enchantment” will pair Stravinsky’s ballet “Petrouchka” with Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor” on an April 6 concert. Russian pianist Olga Kern, the gold medalist in the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, will be the soloist in the Rachmaninoff.
“A Globetrotter’s Guide to the Orchestra” brings the 2012-13 classics season to a close May 11 with an all-orchestral showcase. The program will feature the overture to Wagner’s opera “The Flying Dutchman,” Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italien” and the 1945 suite from Strauss’ opera “Der Rosenkavalier.” The orchestra’s percussion section will be featured in Rouse’s “Ogoun Badagris.”
“We have tried to find both familiar, mainstream repertoire for the audience and works that are new to them — new in the sense that they are both contemporary and fun,” said music director Joel Levine. “Given our eight-concert classics schedule, I think we have a pretty good balance.”
Series features King of Pop
Opening the orchestra’s pops series Nov. 2 and 3 is “Disco Days and Boogie Nights.” Guest conductor Jack Everly has assembled a program that pays tribute to the music of the 1970s. This nostalgic journey will include performances of the disco anthem “I Will Survive,” Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Don McLean’s ballad “American Pie.”
Headlining Chesapeake Energy’s “The Christmas Show” is Michele Ragusa, star of Broadway’s “Young Frankenstein,” “Ragtime” and “Titanic.” Scheduled Nov. 29 through Dec. 1, this much-anticipated concert will explore musical styles ranging from “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Blue Christmas” to “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Star of Bethlehem.”
“The Music of Michael Jackson” will kick off the new year Jan. 25 and 26. James Delisco will be the featured vocalist in a concert that will showcase the King of Pop’s career with selections that include “Rock With You,” “ABC” and “Beat It.”
This season’s Broadway-themed concert is the “Cole Porter Songbook: Anything Goes!” Scheduled Feb. 22 and 23, the concerts will celebrate Porter’s musical theater career with selections that include “You’re the Top,” “Begin the Beguine,” “Night and Day” and “Let’s Do It.”
On March 22 and 23, the orchestra will present “Yesterday Once More — A Tribute to the Carpenters.” Vocalists Joanna Jahn, John Trones and Jen Burleigh-Bentz will perform a variety of Carpenters classics, including “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Close to You,” “Yesterday Once More” and “Rainy Days and Mondays.”
The 2012-13 pops season will come to a close May 3 and 4 with “Cirque de la Symphonie,” a program that features aerialists and acrobats performing to a variety of musical styles ranging from Andrew Lloyd Webber to John Williams.
“In many ways, programming a pops series can be more difficult than putting together a classics season,” Levine said. “We’ve really broadened the popularity of the offerings, from a Carpenters evening to a Cirque production. Thanks to (executive director) Eddie Walker’s input, it’s going to be a very attractive season.”
The orchestra’s Discovery Series, a trio of concerts designed for families with children, begins Oct. 28 with “Phil’s Monster Mash.” This Halloween-themed concert will include performances of Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” and Russell Peck’s “The Chill of the Orchestra.”
An afternoon of patriotic music is planned for the Jan. 27 concert. Closing the series April 7 is a concert featuring the Sugar Free Allstars, a local duo that blends New Orleans funk, Memphis soul, organ-drenched gospel and colorful rock ‘n’ roll. Matt Troy conducts the Discovery series.