Classical, Pops and Family Programs Set for New Jersey Symphony's 2013-14 Season

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The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) today announced its programs for the 2013-14 concert season, conductor Jacques Lacombe's fourth year as the Orchestra's Music Director. The season exemplifies the dynamic programming and high-quality artistry that have led the The New York Times to call the NJSO "an ambitious, admirable orchestra." The season features 14 weeks of subscription classical programs, four pops programs in both Newark and New Brunswick and three family concerts, as well as several special concerts.

For the season's opening weekend, Lacombe and the Orchestra honor the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech with Ellington's Three Black Kings, which culminates in a tribute to the landmark civil rights event. A special performance of Dvo?ák's "New World" Symphony weaves spirituals-sung by Newark church choirs and vocal ensemble Afro Blue-between movements, acknowledging the African-American spirituals that influenced Dvo?ák as he wrote his famous symphony. Pianist Geri Allen premieres her own NJSO commission.

The life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. inspired Danielpour's Clarinet Concerto-an NJSO co-commission. Danielpour wrote the work for Metropolitan Opera Orchestra principal clarinet Anthony McGill, who joins the NJSO for the New Jersey premiere.

Music Director Jacques Lacombe says: "The important mission for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is to have our audiences feel like they have not only heard great music of the highest quality but also witnessed something special at our concerts. [With innovative performances like the Dvo?ák 'New World' Symphony and new commissions and world premieres], next season follows that path."

A key thread through the season is the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Richard Strauss' birth; the Orchestra presents the composer's Alpine Symphony, Violin Concerto and Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life) on classical programs; Also Sprach Zarathustra appears on the first family program of the season.

The Orchestra continues critically lauded artistic initiatives throughout its 2013-14 programs, including the New Jersey Roots Project, which celebrates composers born in or influenced by their time spent in the Garden State. Through the project, the Orchestra presents the world premiere of a new work by Weehawken resident Lowell Liebermann-an NJSO commission. In addition to its commission from Newark native Geri Allen, the NJSO performs the late Princeton University professor Edward T. Cone's Cadenzas for Oboe and Violin.

The season also sees the culmination of a multi-year "Man & Nature" Winter Festival odyssey through the classical elements. The festival's 2014 series, focusing on the earth, launches on January 17 with a program that pairs the U.S. premiere of Tan Dun's Earth Concerto-featuring percussionist David Cossin-with Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth).

The season features the music of composers who were also conductors, including Mahler, Previn, Bernstein, Bartók, Dvo?ák, Strauss and Beethoven. In March, Yan Pascal Tortelier leads Esa-Pekka Salonen's Giro.

"The 150th anniversary of Richard Strauss in 2014 was our starting point," Lacombe says. "Since he was not only a composer but also a conductor, we thought that a unique way to celebrate Strauss this season would be to perform not only music he wrote but also music written by composers who were conductors. Among the first 'modern' conductors was Hector Berlioz, so we started from that point-it makes for an interesting connection to Strauss."

The NJSO performs masterworks of the classical repertoire, including Verdi's Requiem, Beethoven's Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 and Piano Concerto No. 1, Brahms' Violin Concerto and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5.

The season features an outstanding international roster of guest artists including Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell, Gerard Schwarz, James Ehnes, Pascal Roge, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, and Vadim Gluzman. In January, Daniel Müller-Schott gives the U.S. premiere of Previn's Cello Concerto. The Orchestra highlights several of its own musicians-Concertmaster Eric Wyrick, Associate Concertmaster Brennan Sweet, Acting Principal Oboe James Roe, Assistant Conductor Gemma New and violinists Darryl Kubian (performing on theremin) and Héctor Falcón. The NJSO and NJPAC co-present "Bell and Lacombe," a one-night-only performance with violinist Joshua Bell.

The NJSO presents classical subscription programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank and bergenPAC in Englewood.

Continuing a partnership begun in the 2012-13 season, the NJSO presents a four-concert pops series with the State Theatre in New Brunswick, in addition to its regular pops series at NJPAC. The 2013-14 pops series includes a screening of The Wizard of Oz with live orchestral accompaniment, a "Classical Mystery Tour" of the music of the Beatles, a performance by the acrobatic Cirque de la Symphonie troupe and a festive holiday program featuring John Pizzarelli, the Salvation Army Montclair Citadel Band and a chorus of top New Jersey high-school vocalists.

Actor Ben Steinfeld, a longtime NJSO audience favorite and frequent family concert host, is artist-in-residence for the Orchestra's three-concert family series at NJPAC in Newark. In addition to hosting each concert, Steinfeld will participate in the NJSO's in-school performances and appear at special post-concert events.


In his fourth season leading the NJSO, Music Director Jacques Lacombe continues his innovative programming and commitment to celebrating the cultural richness of New Jersey.

  • Opening Night Celebration: Lacombe and the NJSO open the season with a powerful program that features the world premiere of a commission from pianist Geri Allen and a performance of Dvo?ák's "New World" Symphony that weaves spirituals-sung by Newark church choirs-between movements. Special event packages include a pre- concert cocktail party and a post-concert gala dinner. September 27.

  • Premieres and Commissions: The NJSO's inaugural program in 1922 featured an American premiere. The Orchestra continues that tradition by presenting world premieres of NJSO commissions by Geri Allen (September 27- 29) and Lowell Liebermann (November 29-30, December 1). The NJSO gives the U.S. premiere of André Previn's Cello Concerto (January 9-12) and the New Jersey premiere of Richard Danielpour's Clarinet Concerto-an NJSO co-commission (May 1-4).

  • New Jersey Roots Project: a multi-year commitment to performing world-class music from composers who were either born in New Jersey or whose time spent in the Garden State has significantly influenced their artistic identity. This season, the project highlights the music of Geri Allen (world premiere of a new NJSO commission, September 27-29), Lowell Liebermann (world premiere of a new NJSO commission, November 29-30, December 1) and Edward T. Cone (Cadenzas for Oboe and Violin, January 9, 11-12).

  • "Man & Nature" Winter Festival odyssey: For the 2014 Winter Festival, Lacombe and the NJSO present two programs in January that share a central theme of earth. Special conversations and events surrounding the concerts will enhance the understanding of both the music and the element earth.

    Week I - Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. The first concert in this year's Winter Festival presents two works rich in emotional meaning. Tan Dun's Earth Concerto is a mesmerizing sonic and visual experience, calling for soloists to play a battery of instruments sourced from natural materials like ceramic and stone. Tan Dun wrote his work specifically to be performed with Mahler's enveloping Song of the Earth, a cycle on ancient Chinese poems that reflect on earthly beauty and life's transience. January 17-19.

    Week II - Strauss' Alpine Symphony. Scale the heights with music inspired by Earth's greatest spectacle. Strauss depicts a mountaineering adventure, complete with a sudden storm and a glowing sunset, in his Alpine Symphony. D'Indy's Symphony on a French Mountain Air transports the listener with a serene folk melody from the mountains of southern France. Wagner's Venusberg Music from Tannhäuser opens the program. January 24- 26.

  • The 150th anniversary of Strauss' birth: The Orchestra celebrates the 150th anniversary of Richard Strauss' birth in 2014 with performances of his Alpine Symphony (January 24-26), Violin Concerto (March 21-23) and Ein Heldenleben (May 30-31, June 1) on classical programs and Also Sprach Zarathustra (November 30) on a family program.

  • The 17th annual UJA Benefit Concert brings the excitement and beauty of ballet music into the concert hall, from beloved storybook ballets by Tchaikovsky and Delibes to the bursting energy of dance music by Leonard Bernstein. May 18.

  • Further emphasizing the importance of artistic collaboration, the NJSO partners with several New Jersey arts institutions and performs with New Jersey artists. The Orchestra performs with Newark church choirs (September 27-29), New Jersey High School Holiday Chorus and Salvation Army Montclair Citadel Band (December 14-15) and the Montclair State University Chorale (April 3-6). The NJSO presents the 17th annual UJA Benefit Concert for the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest (May 18) and presents programs in collaboration with NJPAC ("Bell & Lacombe," May 9) and the State Theatre ("Home for the Holidays," December 15; "Music of the Beatles: Classical Mystery Tour," February 9; "Wizard of Oz with Orchestra," April 27; "Cirque de la Symphonie," June 8).


More On: Richard Strauss, Tan Dun, Hector Berlioz, Joshua Bell, James Roe, Darryl Kubian, Count Basie, John Pizzarelli.

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by Peter Danish