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ASU orchestras' 2019-20 season dialogues masterworks, contemporary works

From some of the most celebrated masterworks to collaborations with living composers, multimedia artists and world-class soloists, the ASU School of Music orchestras' 2019-20 season ventures beyond previous seasons with performances aimed to rejuvenate orchestral repertoire.

The ASU Symphony Orchestra.

“I’m tremendously excited about the upcoming season,” said Jeffery Meyer, associate professor in the ASU School of Music and director of ASU orchestras. “Audiences and students will be hard-pressed to find another orchestra in the country, whether professional or academic, that is expanding and curating the orchestral repertoire in the way that we are doing here at ASU. This year’s season will be measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom (and what) it includes. We are doing this without turning our back on the bedrock orchestral masterpieces that are at the heart of our tradition and art, and I hope that the way the ‘standard’ repertoire is integrated into new contexts, side-by-side with new works and sounds, will breathe new life into older works as well.”

Meyer, winner of the 2019 American Prize – Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award in Orchestral Programming for the best achievement in the unique field of orchestral programming, is recognized for placing key masterworks of orchestral repertoire in dialogue with contemporary pieces in a way that advances the cultural experience of orchestral music.

The ASU orchestras are creating a new model for professional and preprofessional arts organizations that value the diverse potential of human creativity by offering some of the most enriching, innovative and technically outstanding concerts in the field today.

Tickets are available through the ASU Gammage box office, with free admission to some concerts as noted. General-admission tickets are $12 at the box office; fees apply for online advance purchase. Free ASU student tickets are available.

Northern Lights: Centenary Celebration of Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony
ASU Symphony Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Katherine McLin, violin
7:30 p.m. Sept. 21, ASU Gammage, ticketed

The ASU Symphony Orchestra opens its 2019-20 season with Sibelius’ soaring Symphony No. 5 in honor of the work’s centenary. The concert begins with Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks’ evocative concerto for violin and string orchestra “Tālā gaisma” or “Distant Light” featuring ASU’s Katherine McLin as violin soloist.

Towards a More Perfect Union, ASU Gammage Beyond
ASU Symphony Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer and Daniel Roumain, co-directors
7 p.m. Oct. 5, ASU Gammage, ticketed

ASU Gammage Beyond, in collaboration with the ASU Symphony Orchestra, invites you to a theatrical concert with film and spoken word, highlighting new works and powerful compositions that speak to the challenges of our time. Works by Tamar-kali (Academy Award-nominated film "Mudbound"), Daniel Bernard Roumain (New York Times top 10 classical new works), Joel Thompson (ASU Projecting All Voices Fellow), Carlos Simon (Sundance/Time Warner Composer Fellow), renowned spoken-word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Grammy winners Joan Tower and Martha Gonzalez.

Joan Tower: "Made in America"
Martha Gonzalez: "Vendedores en Accion & Fandango Fronterizo" (World premier, arr. Noah Luna)
Carlos Simon: "This Land" (World premiere, ASU Symphony & ASU Beyond Competition Winner)
Tamar-kali: Excerpts from "Red Rice, Cotton and Indigo" (World premiere)
Daniel Bernard Roumain: "Cipher" (World premiere)
Joel Thompson: "La Lluvia" (World premiere)

ASU Orchestral Strings Graduate Recital
ASU Chamber Orchestra
Yun Song Tay, conductor
Francisco Hernández Bolaños, conductor
7:30 p.m. Oct. 9, Katzin Concert Hall, free admission

The strings of the ASU Chamber Orchestra immerse the listener in a landscape of works spanning over a century from the late romantic to the 20th century avant-garde under the batons of ASU Assistant Conductors Yun Song Tay and Francisco Hernández Bolaños.

Takemitsu: "Three Film Scores"
Ligeti: "Ramifications"
Elgar: "Serenade for Strings"
Britten: "Simple Symphony"

Schoenberg’s New World: Schoenberg, Korngold, Copland
ASU Symphony Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Michelle Di Russo, conductor
Jennifer Son, cello (2019 ASU Concerto Competition winner)
7:30 p.m. Nov. 8, ASU Gammage, ticketed

This concert features a dynamic collection of works written or revised in post-World War II United States. The first half of the concert presents works by Schoenberg and Korngold, both Austro-Hungarian Jewish refugees working in the United States after fleeing Europe in the 1930s. The concert concludes with Copland’s monumental Symphony No. 3, a work that some have called the “Great American Symphony,” expressing the spirit of a hopeful nation emerging from a generation of war.

ASU Professor Sabine Feisst, a world-renowned expert on Schoenberg, will offer a pre-concert talk revealing the historical and biographical context of these works. Her most recent book, “Schoenberg’s Correspondence with American Composers,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2018.

Schoenberg: "Five Pieces"
Korngold: Cello Concerto
Copland: Symphony No. 3

Fall Conductors' Concert
ASU Studio Orchestra
7:30 p.m. Nov. 20, Katzin Concert Hall, free admission

Graduate students in conducting lead the ASU Studio Orchestra in an exciting evening of music.

Mozart’s Kings: 'Coronation Mass' and 'Jupiter Symphony'
ASU Chamber Orchestra
ASU Chamber Singers and Choral Union
Jeffery Meyer and David Schildkret, conductors
Jiji Kim, guitar
7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, ASU Gammage, ticketed

Join the ASU Chamber Orchestra and ASU choirs in two of Mozart’s most celebrated masterworks. Guitar virtuoso and ASU faculty member Jiji Kim brings a slice of modernity to the concert, performing Hilary Purrington’s 2019 concerto “Harp of Nerves.”

Mozart: "Coronation Mass," K.317, C major
Hilary Purrington: "Harp of Nerves" (Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra, 2019)
Mozart: Symphony No. 41, K.551, C major 

ASU Concerto Competition Finalist Concert
4 p.m. Jan. 30, Katzin Concert Hall, free admission

Join us as the finalists in the 2020 ASU Concerto Competition compete for the chance to perform with ASU's top ensembles.

Ravel, Kaminsky and Beethoven’s 'Pastoral Symphony'
ASU Chamber Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Ursula Oppens, piano
7:30 p.m. Feb. 8, ASU Gammage, ticketed

The ASU Chamber Orchestra joins the global celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday with Beethoven’s beloved "Pastoral Symphony." The Grammy-nominated pianist Ursula Oppens joins the ASUCO on the first half of the concert performing Laura Kaminsky’s Piano Concerto.

Maurice Ravel: "Ma Mère l'Oye (Mother Goose)"
Laura Kaminsky: Piano Concerto (2011)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral”

Mazzoli, Pann and Dvorak Symphony No. 8
ASU Symphony Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer and Yun Song Tay, conductors
Christopher Creviston, saxophone
7:30 p.m. Feb. 29, ASU Gammage, ticketed
4 p.m. March 1, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, ticketed

Dvorak’s “Festival March” and Symphony No. 8 bookend this concert of thrilling new works by two major American composers: the other-worldly “Sinfonia for Orbiting Spheres” by Missy Mazzoli (Chicago Symphony composer-in-residence) and a world premiere performance of a new concerto written for the ASU Symphony Orchestra and saxophonist Christopher Creviston by Carter Pann (2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist in music).

Weber, Liszt and Shostakovich Symphony No. 5
ASU Symphony Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer, Michelle Di Russo and Francisco Hernández Bolaños, conductors
Aoshuang Li, piano (2019 ASU Concerto Competition winner)
7:30 p.m. April 2, ASU Gammage, ticketed
3 p.m. April 5, Yavapai College Performing Arts Center, Prescott, Arizona

Virtuosic romantic works by Weber and Liszt provide the first-half counterpoint to Shostakovich’s searing Symphony No. 5, written at the height of the Stalinist purges of the 1930s. Ever since its storied premiere in St. Petersburg in 1937, it continues to be performed and remembered among the most moving and dramatic works of its time.

Weber: "Overture to Der Freischütz"
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1
Dmitry Shostakovich: Symphony No.5

Spring Conductors' Concert
ASU Studio Orchestra
7:30 p.m. April 13, Katzin Concert Hall, free admission

Graduate students in conducting lead the ASU Studio Orchestra in an exciting evening of music.

Mahler Symphony No. 2 'Resurrection'
ASU Symphony Orchestra
ASU Chamber Singers, Choral Union and Concert Choir
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Carole FitzPatrick, soprano
Stephanie Weiss, mezzo-soprano
7:30 p.m. April 30, ASU Gammage, ticketed

The ASU Symphony Orchestra is joined by Carole FitzPatrick, Stephanie Weiss and the ASU choirs to end the 2019-20 season with Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 2. An all-embracing narrative continuing the metaphysical questions posed by Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the work immerses the listener in a journey through life and death, traversing funeral rites and the marching dead, existential crisis and, finally, the soul’s ultimate redemption.

lamacdon@asu.edu