New Jersey Symphony Announces 2014-15 Season - CARMINA BURANA, Beethoven and More!
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) today announced its programs for the 2014-15 concert season, conductor Jacques Lacombe's fifth year as the Orchestra's Music Director. Fulfilling its mission as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO brings subscription programs to venues in Newark, New Brunswick, Princeton, Morristown, Red Bank and Englewood, with 14 weeks of subscription classical programs, four pops programs and three family concerts, as well as several special concerts.
For the season's opening weekend, Lacombe and the Orchestra present Carmina Burana with the Westminster Symphonic Choir on a program that opens with a work by New Jersey composer George Antheil. A blockbuster season finale features two Beethoven's Fifths-the composer's Fifth Symphony and Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor," with Marc-André Hamelin, with whom the NJSO gave a triumphant performance at Carnegie Hall's 2012 Spring for Music Festival.
"The season's opening and closing programs illustrate the values at the heart of the NJSO's mission-to present to New Jersey audiences the great masterworks of the repertoire in collaboration with renowned artists. We are passionate about celebrating the wealth of artistic talent within the Garden State by partnering with its performing-arts institutions and presenting its composers," Lacombe says.
January features the first season of a two-year "Sounds of Shakespeare" Winter Festival celebrating music inspired by the Bard. Lacombe conducts the festival's three-concert 2015 series. A two-week residency of renowned violinist Sarah Chang anchors the festival; Chang performs Bernstein's West Side Story Suite in all six NJSO venues statewide. As part of her residency (the first of its kind for the NJSO), Chang will visit and give masterclasses for two of the NJSO's flagship education programs, the Greater Newark Youth Orchestras and El Sistema-inspired NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project).
The 2015 Winter Festival features a number of works the NJSO has not previously performed, including the Bernstein suite, Korngold's Much Ado About Nothing Suite and selections from Barber's Antony and Cleopatra.
The 2014-15 season marks the culmination of one of the Orchestra's critically lauded artistic initiatives-the New Jersey Roots Project, which celebrates composers born in or influenced by their time spent in the Garden State. This season, the Orchestra performs works by George Antheil, Darryl Kubian and Edward T. Cone. A connective element through the five seasons of the New Jersey Roots Project has been the work of Cone, the late Princeton University professor whose music the NJSO has presented in each season of the project and whose influence as a teacher has extended to several other composers the NJSO has featured. The capstone of the final season of the New Jersey Roots Project is the world premiere of Cone's Symphony at a special July 2014 concert/lecture at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University; the event will mark the launch of the Edward T. Cone Composition Institute-a new partnership between the Edward T. Cone Foundation, Princeton University and the NJSO.
Lauded composer and Princeton University Music Department Chair and professor Steven Mackey says: "The NJSO has had a strong relationship with Princeton University composers for years, and we are excited to partner with the Orchestra for this immersive composition institute. This new program will foster emerging composing talent by preparing composers for both the creative and practical elements of composing works for orchestra."
The season features an outstanding international roster of guest artists including Marc-André Hamelin, André Watts, Gil Shaham, Stefan Jackiw and Kirill Gerstein. Female conductors Xian Zhang, Sarah Hicks and Gemma New appear across classical, pops and family programs, respectively. The Orchestra highlights several of its own musicians-Concertmaster Eric Wyrick, Principal Cello Jonathan Spitz and Principal Flute Bart Feller.
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 2014-15 pops series includes a screening of Singin' in the Rain with live orchestral accompaniment, a Motown R&B program featuring vocal group Spectrum, a "Broadway Spectacular" led by conductor Todd Ellison and a festive holiday program featuring 10-time Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Take 6.
NJSO Education & Community Engagement Conductor Jeffrey Grogan and Associate Conductor Gemma New lead the Orchestra's three-concert family series at NJPAC in Newark; each concert features special pre- and post-concert events designed to bring young concertgoers closer to the music and music makers.
"We are thrilled with the programs Jacques has crafted for our 92rd season," NJSO President & CEO James Roe says. "Each concert speaks powerfully through the treasures of our art form and celebrates the love our listeners have for this music. We take our role as the Orchestra for the state of New Jersey directly to heart. It is our mission to bring the great orchestral works directly into communities we serve across the state, while introducing new works both historic and fresh-off-the-press. We have an incredibly loyal group of supporters-more than 15% of our subscribers have already renewed for the 2014-15 season without even knowing the schedule, which underscores the depth of our relationship with our audiences. Our remarkable donors demonstrate their belief in our mission through their generous support of the work we do. We are deeply grateful for our whole NJSO family, and we dedicate this season to them."
Some season highlights are as follows:
Opening Night Celebration: Lacombe and the NJSO open the season with Carmina Burana-the masterwork that first introduced him to New Jersey audiences and critics in November 2008, prior to his appointment as music director. The opening-weekend program features George Antheil's McKonkey's Ferry as part of both the New Jersey Roots Project and NJ350-a celebration of the Garden State's 350th anniversary in 2014. Special event packages include a pre-concert cocktail party and a post-concert gala dinner. October 10.
Premieres and commissions: The NJSO presents the world premiere of Edward T. Cone's Symphony at a special concert/lecture at the Richardson Auditorium in Princeton (July 18, 2014). The Orchestra premieres a commission from NJSO violinist and composer Darryl Kubian, O for a Muse of Fire, commissioned through the New Jersey Roots Project (March 19-22).
New Jersey Roots Project: This season marks the culmination of the 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 George Antheil (McKonkey's Ferry, October 10-12), Darryl Kubian (world premiere of NJSO commission O for a Muse of Fire, March 19-22) and Edward T. Cone (world premiere of Symphony, July 18, 2014).
World premiere of Cone's Symphony at special lecture/concert: The NJSO gives the Cone premiere at a special lecture and concert at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University; Lacombe and distinguished composer Steven Mackey-Princeton University Music Department Chair and professor-will discuss Cone's work and legacy as a teacher-composer before the Orchestra premieres the symphony.
Launch of Edward T. Cone Composition Institute: The event will also mark the launch of the Edward T. Cone Composition Institute-a new partnership between the Edward T. Cone Foundation, Princeton University and the NJSO. Promising graduate-level composers will have their work rehearsed by the NJSO and participate in master classes with the program director, as well as receive feedback from Lacombe and select NJSO musicians. The Institute will provide sessions with industry leaders in publishing, licensing, promotion and music preparation to give participants a foundation for a successful career in composition. The Institute concludes with a world-premiere performance of the participants' works by the NJSO.
"Sounds of Shakespeare" Winter Festival: The 2015 Winter Festival launches a two-year festival project celebrating music inspired by the Bard, William Shakespeare. The two-week residency of violinist Sarah Chang anchors the 2015 festival, which also welcomes actors from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey back to NJSO stages.
Week I - Lacombe Conducts Romeo and Juliet. The NJSO's Winter Festival celebrates the genius of Shakespeare with music inspired by his greatest plays. The timeless romance of Romeo and Juliet proved irresistible to Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Gounod alike, giving rise to a passionate trio of audience favorites. Actors from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey perform scenes from the beloved tragedy. January 9-11.
Week II - Sarah Chang Plays Bernstein. In a bold stroke of inspiration, Bernstein transplanted Romeo and Juliet to Hell's Kitchen to create his West Side Story. Superstar violinist Sarah Chang makes its famous melodies sing and soar. Antony and Cleopatra, another ill-fated Shakespearean pair, are caught between desire and duty in Barber's mesmerizing score. January 16-18.
Week III - Sarah Chang Plays Bernstein. Sarah Chang shines in Bernstein's immortal West Side Story, heard in a luminous arrangement for violin and orchestra. Shakespeare's countryman Elgar paints a memorable portrait of the jolly rogue Falstaff, who appears in three of the Bard's plays. January 22-25.
Collaborations: The NJSO partners with several New Jersey arts institutions and performs with New Jersey artists. The Orchestra performs with the Westminster Symphonic Choir (October 10-12), Montclair State University Singers (Dec 19-21) and The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (January 9-11). The NJSO presents the 18th annual UJA Benefit Concert for the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest (May 17) and presents programs in collaboration with NJPAC ("André Watts with the NJSO," May 15) and the State Theatre ("A Take 6 Holiday with the NJSO," December 14; "Singin' in the Rain," February 8; "Heart of Motown with Spectrum and the NJSO," April 19; "Broadway Spectacular with the NJSO," May 31).