Monday, March 5, 2007

Richmond Symphony 2007-08

Two of the Richmond Symphony’s past music directors, Jacques Houtmann and George Manahan, will return as guest conductors in the 2007-08 season, the orchestra’s 50th. The symphony’s founding conductor, the late Edgar Schenkman, will be remembered in a re-creation of the inaugural program he led in 1957.

Mark Russell Smith, the symphony’s fourth and current music director, will conduct the 50th anniversary gala on Oct. 26, a program including Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, with Stephen Prutsman as soloist (Mieczyslaw Horszowski played the work in 1957), and the "Scottish" Symphony by Mendelssohn.

Karen Johnson, the orchestra’s concertmaster, will continue her string of performances of concertos by 20th-century Russian composers, playing Stravinsky's Violin Concerto with Manahan conducting. Johnson also will play Bach with teenaged violinist Madison Vest.

Other guest soloists include double-bassist Edgar Meyer in concertos by Bottesini and himself, trumpeter David Bilger in Alexander Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto, and the Curtis Opera Ensemble from Smith’s alma mater, Curtis Institute of Music, in Bach’s "Wedding" Cantata and Act 4 of Mozart’s "The Marriage of Figaro."

Major orchestral repertory for the season includes Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony, Brahms’ First Symphony, Sibelius’ First Symphony, Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony and Richard Strauss’ "Don Juan" and "Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks," all conducted by Smith; Beethoven’s "Eroica" Symphony, conducted by Houtmann; and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Debussy’s "La Mer," conducted by Manahan.

Erin R. Freeman, the symphony’s associate conductor, will mark her first season as director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus with performances of Bach’s Cantata 4 ("Christ lag im Todesbanden"), Handel’s "Messiah," Verdi’s Requiem and various shorter choral works. She also will take over the Kicked Back Classics casual concerts and the Symphony Pops series, as well as conducting one of four programs in a Bach Festival with the symphony's core chamber orchestra.

Two former Richmonders – both graduates of St. Christopher’s School who subsequently studied at the Juilliard School – will return for the symphony anniversary: Composer and electronica artist Mason Bates with his tone poem "Rusty Air in Carolina," and tenor William Ferguson in "Messiah."

The Symphony Pops series will feature two Richmond-based groups: Page Wilson & Reckless Abandon in folk and acoustic music, and Doug Richards' Great American Music Ensemble (GAME) in a big-band jazz program.

The Richmond Symphony’s 2007-08 dates, artists and programs:

8 p.m. Fridays at Second Baptist Church, 8 p.m. Saturdays at First Baptist Church, 8 p.m. Mondays at St. Michael Catholic Church.
Subscriptions: $80-$252 (Second Baptist); $80-$360 (First Baptist); $80-$202 (St. Michael).

Sept. 14, 15, 17 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. Richard Strauss: "Don Juan;" Alexander Arutiunian: Trumpet Concerto (David Bilger, trumpet); Dvořák: Symphony No. 7.

Oct. 12, 13, 15 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. Sibelius: Symphony No. 1; Wagner: Act 1 Prelude from "Lohengrin," "Forest Murmurs" from "Siegfried," "Siegfried’s Rhine Journey" from Götterdämmerung," excerpts from Act 3 of "Die Meistersinger."

Nov. 16, 17, 19 – Jacques Houtmann conducting. Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica"); Ravel: "Le Tombeau de Couperin;" Mozart: "Cosí fan tutte" Overture.

Jan. 18, 19, 21 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. Bruckner: Symphony No. 9; Schubert: Symphony No. 8 ("Unfinished"); Mozart: German dances.

Feb. 22, 23, 25 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. Prokofiev: "Romeo and Juliet" (excerpts); Richard Strauss: "Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks;" Ravel: "Mother Goose" Suite.

March 14, 15, 17 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. Verdi: Requiem (Soloists TBA, Richmond Symphony Chorus, Erin R. Freeman directing).

April 25, 26, 28 – George Manahan conducting. Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; Stravinsky: Violin Concerto (Karen Johnson, violin); Debussy: "La Mer."

May 16, 17, 19 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. Brahms: Symphony No. 1; Bates: "Rusty Air in Carolina" (Mason Bates, electronica); Bottesini: Double-bass Concerto No. 2 (Edgar Meyer, double-bass); Meyer: Double-bass Concerto (Meyer, double-bass).

8 p.m. Fridays at Bon Air Baptist Church, 3 p.m. Sundays at Blackwell Auditorium, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland

Oct. 19, 21 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. J.S. Bach: Cantata 202 ("Wedding") (Curtis Opera Ensemble); Mozart: Act IV from "The Marriage of Figaro" (excerpts) (Curtis Opera Ensemble); Grieg: "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen."

Nov. 9 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. J.S. Bach: "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 3, Ricercare from "A Musical Offering;" Stravinsky: "Dumbarton Oaks" Concerto; Richard Strauss: "Le bourgeois gentilhomme" Suite.

Feb. 29, March 2 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. J.S. Bach: Cantata 4 ("Christ lag im Todesbanden") (Soloist TBA, Richmond Symphony Chorus); J.C. Bach: Sinfonia No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 18, No. 2; Arvo Pärt: "Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten;" Haydn: Symphony No. 101 ("Clock").

May 9, 11 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. J.S. Bach: Concerto for two violins (Karen Johnson & Madison Vest, violins); J.S. Bach: Suite No. 3; Schoenberg: Chamber Symphony No. 1; Villa-Lobos: "Bachianas Brasilieras" No. 9.

5 p.m. Sundays at Thalhimer Pavilion, Science Museum of Virginia

Oct. 7 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. Falla: "Ritual Fire Dance" from "El amor brujo;" Vivaldi: "Winter" (excerpt) from "The Four Seasons;" Gershwin: Lullaby; Elgar: "Chanson de Matin;" Biber: "Battalia;" Chris Theophanidis: "Peace, Love, Light, YOUMEONE;" Haydn: "Chaos" from "The Creation," Symphony No. 45 ("Farewell") (excerpt).

Nov. 4 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. Ravel: "Beauty and the Beast" from "Mother Goose" Suite; Prokofiev-Tobin: "Peter and the Werewolf;" Beethoven: "The Creatures of Prometheus" Overture; Gluck: "Dance of the Furies" from "Orfeo & Eurydice;" Rimsky-Korsakov: "Flight of the Bumblebee."

Feb. 27 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. Mozart: "The Marriage of Figaro" Overture; Diamind: "Romeo and Juliet;" Glinka: "Kamarinskaya;" Massenet: "Méditation" from "Thaïs;" Reznicek: "Donna Diana" Overture; Wagner: "Bridal Chorus" from "Lohengrin" (men of Richmond Symphony Chorus); tavern songs (men of Richmond Symphony Chorus).

May 4 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. Mozart: Symphony No. 39 (excerpt); Bartók: "Romanian Folk Dances;" Johann Strauss II: "Pizzicato Polka;" Copland: "Hoedown" from "Rodeo;" Tchaikovsky: Serenade for strings (excerpt); Debussy: "Danses sacrée et profane;" Still: "Panamanian Dances" (excerpt); Piazzolla: "Cantengue;" Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 (excerpt).

8 p.m. Saturdays at Landmark Theater

Sept. 29 – Mark Russell Smith conducting, with Page Wilson & Reckless Abandon, in "Out o’ the Blue Orchestral Revue."

Oct. 27 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. "50 Years of Pops," including Bernstein’s "West Side Story" Symphonic Dances.

Dec. 8 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. "Let It Snow" holiday program with Richmond Symphony Chorus, others TBA.

Jan. 12 – Great American Music Ensemble, Doug Richards directing, in big-band jazz.


Oct. 26 (8 p.m., Camp Concert Hall, Modlin Arts Center, University of Richmond) – Mark Russell Smith conducting, in re-creation of Richmond Symphony’s 1957 inaugural concert. Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 ("Scottish"); Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 (Stephen Prutsman, piano); Frescobaldi-Kindler: Toccata; Glinka: "Russlan and Ludmilla" Overture.

Nov. 30 (8 p.m., Second Baptist Church), Dec. 3 (8 p.m., St. Michael Catholic Church) – Erin R. Freeman conducting. Handel: "Messiah" (Jennifer Ellis Kampani, soprano; Tracy Watson, mezzo-soprano; William Ferguson, tenor; Sumner Thompson, baritone; Richmond Symphony Chorus).

May 3 (8 p.m., Landmark Theater) – George Daugherty conducting. "Bugs Bunny on Broadway," Looney Tunes animations with symphonic and opera themes.