Friday, March 4, 2011

Richmond Symphony 2011-12

Shortly after being named the Richmond Symphony's fifth music director, Steven Smith outlined a programming philosophy of performing familiar symphonic works alongside new or unfamiliar music.

That thinking is reflected in the orchestra's 2011-12 season, the first in which Smith fully participated in program planning. (The current season was mostly in place before his appointment last March.)

Next season's Masterworks programs are liberally sprinkled with works by contemporary composers (John Adams, Steven Stucky, Arvo Pärt, William Bolcom, Astor Piazzolla) and 20th-century classics not heard routinely here (Bartók's "Miraculous Mandarin" Suite, Shostakovich's Ninth Symphony, Stravinsky's "Jeu de Cartes," Janáček's "Taras Bulba," Ives' "Three Places in New England").

Most of the programs for Masterworks and the Metro Collection chamber-orchestra series, however, are rooted in familiar symphonies (Beethoven's Seventh, Brahms' Fourth, Mendelssohn's "Italian," Mozart's 35th and 39th, Sibelius' Fifth) and warhorses of the concerto repertory (Brahms' Violin Concerto, with Elena Urioste; Dvořák's Cello Concerto, with Carter Brey; Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," with Katherine Chi; Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez," with Jason Vieaux).

The Richmond Symphony Chorus, directed by the orchestra's associate conductor, Erin R. Freeman, will venture into the unfamiliar in Mendelssohn's "Die erste Walpurgisnacht," as well as singing in the Poulenc Gloria, Handel's "Messiah" and the "Let It Snow!" holiday concerts. The Richmond Symphony Chamber Chorus will perform in Bach's Mass in F major in the first of four Metro Collection programs.

The symphony will collaborate with dancers from the Richmond Ballet in a pops program, "Wild Wild West," featuring music from Copland's "Rodeo;" and a narrator and actors, as yet unnamed, will join the orchestra for a performance of Stravinsky's "The Soldier’s Tale" in the Metro Collection’s season finale. And the orchestra will open its Pops series accompanying a screening of the classic film "Casablanca."

Metro Collection will eliminate Friday night concerts, offering only Sunday matinees at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland.

Four musicians from the orchestra's roster – French horn player Robert Johnson in Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 2; flutist Mary Boodell, oboist Shawn Welk and trumpeter Rolla Durham in Barber's "Carpicorn" Concerto – will be featured in Metro Collection programs. Brendan Elliott, winner of the symphony's 2011 Concerto Competition, will be the soloist in Saint-Saëns' Violin Concerto No. 3 in a Masterworks program.

The symphony is offering several ticket deals, the biggest of which is free admission to Masterworks concerts for youths 18 and younger. A "Compose Your Own" ticket package also will be offered, with patrons able to select concerts from several series.

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

Dates, artists, programs and subscription prices (for adults unless listed otherwise) for the Richmond Symphony's 2011-12 season:

8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage
Subscriptions: $172-$484

Sept. 17-18 – Steven Smith conducting. Beethoven: "Leonore" Overture No. 3; Brahms: Violin Concerto (Elena Urioste, violin); Steven Stucky: "Dreamwaltzes;" Bartók: "The Miraculous Mandarin" Suite.

Oct. 15-16 – Steven Smith conducting. Arvo Pärt: "Fratres;" Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9; Dvořák: Cello Concerto (Carter Brey, cello).

Nov. 12-13 – Steven Smith conducting. Rossini: "The Barber of Seville" Overture; Poulenc: Gloria (Richmond Symphony Chorus); Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major (Anton Nel, piano); Stravinsky: "Jeu de Cartes."

Jan. 14-15 – Steven Smith conducting. Astor Piazzolla: "Tangazo;" Rodrigo: "Concierto de Aranjuez" (Jason Vieaux, guitar); William Bolcom: "Commedia for (almost) 18th-century Orchestra;" Mozart: Symphony No. 39.

Feb. 4-5 – Danail Rachev conducting. Grieg: "Peer Gynt" Suite No. 1; Rachmaninoff: "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" (Katherine Chi, piano); Sibelius: Symphony No. 5.

Feb. 25-26 – Steven Smith conducting. John Adams: "The Chairman Dances;" Mendelssohn: "Die erste Walpurgisnacht" (Richmond Symphony Chorus); Beethoven: Symphony No. 7.

April 14-15 – Steven Smith conducting. Ives: "Three Places in New England;" Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto No. 3 (Brendon Elliott, violin); Brahms: Symphony No. 4.

May 12-13 – Steven Smith conducting. Dvořák: Slavonic dances TBA; Janáček: "Taras Bulba;" Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances.

3 p.m. Sundays, Blackwell Auditorium, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland
Subscriptions: $68

Sept. 25 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. Aaron Jay Kernis: "Musica celestis;" Bach: Mass in F major (Richmond Symphony Chamber Chorus); Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 ("Italian").

Oct. 23 – Steven Smith conducting. Silvestre Revueltas: "Homenaje a Federico Garcia Lorca;" Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 2 (Robert Johnson, French horn); Sibelius: "Pelleas and Melisande;" Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 ("Classical").

Jan. 29 – Steven Smith conducting. John Adams: Chamber Symphony; Barber: "Capricorn" Concerto (Mary Boodell, flute; Shawn Welk, oboe; Rolla Durham, trumpet); Rameau: Ballet suite TBA; Mozart: Symphony No. 35 ("Haffner").

May 6 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. Boccherini: Symphony No. 6; Stravinsky: "The Soldier's Tale" (narrator & actors TBA).

8 p.m. Saturdays (unless listed otherwise), Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage
Subscriptions: $92-$252

Oct. 1 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. "A Symphonic Night at the Movies: 'Casablanca' " (orchestra accompanying screening of film).

Dec. 3, 4 (3 p.m.) – Erin R. Freeman conducting. "Let It Snow!" holiday program (Richmond Symphony Chorus).

Jan. 21 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. "For Ella – the Music of Ella Fitzgerald" (Patti Austin, guest star).

April 27 – Steven Smith conducting. “Wild Wild West,” with Richmond Ballet.

11 a.m. Saturdays, Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage
Subscriptions: $45 (adult); $36 (child)

Oct. 29 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. "Mozart's Magnificent Voyage" (Classical Kids Live, actors).

March 3 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" (Sara Valentine & Michael Boudewyns, actors).

April 21 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. "Emperor's New Clothes" (Grey Seal Puppets).

8 p.m., Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage

Dec. 2 – Erin R. Freeman conducting. Handel: "Messiah" (soloists TBA, Richmond Symphony Chorus).