Saturday, March 15, 2008

Richmond Symphony 2008-09

Six of the nine finalists to succeed Mark Russell Smith as music director of the Richmond Symphony – Mikhail Agrest, Daniel Meyer, Steven Smith, Marc Taddei, Arthur Post and Dorian Wilson – will conduct the bulk of the orchestra’s 2008-09 season.

Each will lead a program in the mainstage Masterworks series, as well as dates in other series: Agrest in Kicked Back Classics casual concerts; Meyer and Wilson in the chamber-orchestra festival; Steven Smith, Taddei and Post in Pops concerts.

Mark Russell Smith will conduct three programs, including Christmas-season performances of Handel’s "Messiah," Easter-season performances of Bach’s "St. Matthew Passion," and in May, in his final concerts as music director, the orchestra’s first performances of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.

Three other finalists for music director – Alastair Wills, Christian Knapp and Arthur Fagen – are scheduled for performances in fall 2009. The orchestra expects to name its fifth music director by the end of next year.

In 2008-09, the symphony’s four-program festival series will focus on music of Joseph Haydn, with the composer represented by three symphonies, the "Little Organ" Mass, the Violin Concerto in C major and String Quartet No. 30 ("Joke"), prerformed alongside works by contemporaries of Haydn and two living American composers, John Corigliano and Bright Sheng. Meyer will conduct concerts in October, Wilson in February, and Erin Freeman, the symphony's associate conductor, in November and May.

The Kicked Back Classics series of four casual concerts will move to The National, the recently restored movie and vaudeville house known in the last century as the National Theatre, in downtown Richmond. Agrest will conduct the opening concerts in September, Freeman the subsequent three programs.

The Richmond Symphony Chorus, directed by Freeman, will sing in November performances of Stravinsky’s "Symphony of Psalms," conducted by Steven Smith; the Christmas-season "Messiah" and "Let It Snow" pops concerts; the Easter-season "St. Matthew Passion;" a chamber contingent of the chorus will perform in the opening of the Haydn Festival, conducted by Meyer.

Major orchestral repertory, in addition to the Mahler Ninth, includes Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony (conducted by Agrest), Brahms' Second Symphony (Meyer), Schubert's Ninth Symphony (Steven Smith), Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony (Taddei), Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" (Wilson), the first symphonies of Beethoven and Shostakovich (Post), Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony (Wilson), and Haydn's "London" and Beethoven's Eighth symphonies (Freeman).

Programs also will feature first Richmond Symphony performances of Britten's song cycle "Les Illuminations," sung by tenor Robert Breault with Wilson conducting; Christopher Rouse's Trombone Concerto, conducted by Agrest with a soloist to be announced; Michael Torke's "Javelin," conducted by Meyer; and Sheng's "Postcards," with Molly Sharp, the orchestra's principal violist, and Freeman conducting.

Violinist Karen Johnson, the orchestra’s concertmaster, will be featured in Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto and John Williams' "Schindler's List" film score. Three other principal players, cellist Neal Cary, flutist Mary Boodell and clarinetist Ralph Skiano, also will perform as soloists.

For a season brochure and other information, call the symphony box office at (804) 788-1212 or visit

(Current subscribers will receive a discount on renewed subscriptions through March 31.)

The symphony's 2008-09 season programs:

8 p.m. Fridays, Second Baptist Church, Richmond
8 p.m. Saturdays, First Baptist Church, Richmond
8 p.m. Mondays, St. Michael Catholic Church, Glen Allen
Full-season subscription (eight concerts): $80-$252 (Second Baptist), $80-360 (First Baptist), $80-$202 (St. Michael)
Half-season subscription (four concerts): $40-$126 (Second Baptist, First Baptist), $40-$101 (St. Michael)

SEPT. 19, 20, 22 – Mikhail Agrest conducting. Verdi: "La Forza del Destino" Overture; Christopher Rouse: Trombone Concerto (soloist TBA); Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4.

OCT. 10, 11, 13 – Daniel Meyer conducting. Michael Torke: "Javelin;" Barber: Violin Concerto (Karen Johnson, violin); Brahms: Symphony No. 2.

NOV. 14, 15, 17 – Steven Smith conducting. Barber: "Second Essay" for orchestra; Stravinsky: "Symphony of Psalms" (Richmond Symphony Chorus); Schubert: Symphony No. 9 ("Great").

JAN. 16, 17, 19 – Marc Taddei conducting. Strauss: "Four Last Songs" (soloist TBA); Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2.

FEB. 20, 21, 23 – Arthur Post conducting. Beethoven: Symphony No. 1; Boccherini: Cello Concerto in B flat major (Neal Cary, cello); Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1.

MARCH 6, 7, 9 – Dorian Wilson conducting. Ives: "The Unanswered Question;" Britten: "Les Illuminations" (Robert Breault, tenor); Rimsky-Korsakov: "Scheherazade."

APRIL 17, 18, 20 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. Bach: "St. Matthew Passion" (soloists TBA, Richmond Symphony Chorus, Greater Richmond Children's Choir).

MAY 15, 16, 18 – Mark Russell Smith conducting. Mahler: Symphony No. 9.

8 p.m. Fridays, Bon Air Baptist Church, Richmond

3 p.m. Sundays, Blackwell Auditorium, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland
Subscription: $40-$137 (Bon Air), $40-$90 (Randolph-Macon)

OCT. 3, 5 – Daniel Meyer conducting. All-Haydn program: "L’isola disabitata" Overture, aria (soloist TBA); Violin Concerto in C major (soloist TBA); Quartet in E flat major ("Joke") (Richmond Symphony String Quartet); "Little Organ" Mass in B flat major (Richmond Symphony Chamber Chorus); Symphony No. 85 ("La reine").

NOV. 21, 23 – Erin Freeman conducting. Fux: Sinfonia from "Il Fonte della Salute;" C.P.E. Bach: Sinfonia No. 3 in C major; Haydn: Symphony No. 7 ("Le Midi"); Beethoven: Symphony No. 8.

FEB. 6, 8 – Dorian Wilson conducting. Haydn: "Andromeda and Persus" Overture, Symphony No. 43 ("Mercury"); Mozart: Symphony No. 41 ("Jupiter").

MAY 8, 10 – Erin Freeman conducting. John Corigliano: "Voyage" for flute and string orchestra (Mary Boodell, flute); Wolf: "Italian Serenade;" Bright Sheng: "Postcards" (Molly Sharp, viola); Haydn: Symphony No. 104 ("London").

Club concerts at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, Family concerts at 4 p.m. Sundays, The National, Richmond
Subscription: $36 (Club), $61 (Family)

SEPT. 25, 28 – Mikhail Agrest conducting. "The Music Effect."

OCT. 23, 26 – Erin Freeman conducting. "Music for a Theater."

JAN. 22, 25 – Erin Freeman conducting. "Music for Poe."

APRIL 30, MAY 3 – Erin Freeman conducting. "Jazz-o-Matic."

8 p.m. Saturdays, Landmark Theater, Richmond
Subscription: $126-$216

NOV. 8 – Steven Smith conducting. "Gershwin’s Greatest," with "Rhapsody in Blue" (pianist TBA).

DEC. 6 – Erin Freeman conducting. "Let It Snow" holiday program (Richmond Symphony Chorus, Greater Richmond Children’s Choir).

JAN. 10 – Marc Taddei conducting. "Sinfonia del Fuego" tango program (Raul Jaurena, bandoneon).

FEB. 28 – Arthur Post conducting. "Hollywood Nights," with John Williams’ "Schindler’s List" (Karen Johnson, violin; Ralph Skiano, clarinet).


DEC. 5 (8 p.m., Second Baptist Church), DEC. 8 (8 p.m. St. Michael Catholic Church) – Mark Russell Smith conducting. Handel: "Messiah" (soloists TBA, Richmond Symphony Chorus). Tickets: $25-$35 (Second Baptist), $30 (St. Michael).

APRIL 25 (8 p.m., Landmark Theater) – Conductor TBA. "Video Games Live," produced by video game composers Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall, with Richmond Symphony Chorus. Tickets: $20-$60.