Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Unveils 2020-21 Season

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Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Unveils 2020-21 Season

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Louis Langrée have unveiled details of the Orchestra's 2020-21 season, encompassing a wide range of artistic experiences and a diverse roster of artists.

The new season features orchestral masterworks; four world premieres; performances of seven CSO commissioned works; a two-week European tour; the second year of the experimental series CSO Proof and CSO Night/Light "after-concert" gatherings with performances by guest artists and CSO musicians. The Orchestra has also appointed Matthias Pintscher to a three-season position as its new Creative Partner. In this new role, Pintscher will collaborate with Louis Langrée and CSO administration on programming, recommending works, composers and commissions and he will conduct a minimum of two programs each season.

Highlights of the subscription series include the opening weekend with longtime friend of both Langrée and the Orchestra, Hélène Grimaud, and works by Mozart and Strauss inspired by hero stories; Matthias Pintscher brings Leila Josefowicz and the violin concerto Andrew Norman wrote for her and pairs it with Mahler's Symphony No. 7; Langrée conducts three different versions of Shéhérazade on one concert featuring the debut of the sensational young soprano, Fatma Said; Bill Barclay directs a concert-staged production of Grieg's Peer Gynt (based on the Ibsen play) with soprano Camilla Tilling and the May Festival Chorus; Eighth Blackbird and conductor Ruth Reinhardt premiere a new work from Kinds of Kings; CSO Principal Trumpet Robert Sullivan and Principal Tuba Christopher Olka are soloists in the world premiere of a new concerto by Christopher Cerrone; Langrée conducts Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (1919), completing his Diaghilev trilogy that featured Petrouchka and The Rite of Spring in past seasons; and Langrée pairs a world premiere by Gabriela Ortiz with Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 for the season finale.

"What makes me very proud of this next season is the versatility of musical styles and the range of experiences we will bring to our audiences. That diversity will extend to our guest artists, who come from many different origins and backgrounds," said Louis Langrée. "I am also thrilled to welcome Matthias Pintscher to our Cincinnati Symphony family. Matthias is a unique personality in the musical world. His deep knowledge of repertoire covers centuries of music and at the same time he is in the center of creation, both as a composer, conductor, and champion of the music of our time. He is a passionate advocate and leader for music new and old, and his approach to musicmaking makes him a perfect partner for the CSO."

In November 2020, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra embarks on its 26th international tour, with concerts planned in Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Munich and Zagreb. Venues, repertoire, soloists and dates will be announced separately.

Just prior to the European tour, Louis Langrée and the CSO will return to Lincoln Center for their second appearance on November 8, 2020, as part of the Great Performers series at David Geffen Hall. Langrée and the Orchestra will give the New York premiere of Christopher Rouse's Symphony No. 6, commissioned and premiered by the CSO for its 125th anniversary season. Langrée has paired the Rouse with the sixth and final symphony of Tchaikovsky. "Both of these masterpieces are poignant farewells," said Langrée, "and both convey feelings of desperation, manic intensity and elevation before vanishing into silence."

Launched in the fall of 2019, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's CSO Proof series is an incubator for experimenting with new ideas for experiencing orchestral music. Designed to challenge the constructs of a traditional concert, every element is up for grabs. Programs are envisioned by a variety of curators often employing elements of theatre and dance that add new dimensions of color and texture to the concert experience. Collaborations occur with a wide range of musicians and other artists not typically associated with orchestras; performances are apt to happen in open or unexpected spaces; multi-media elements are often employed; and, the audience is situated closer to the action, breaking the fourth wall and encouraging a more inclusive and immersive relationship with the musicians and the music.

The 2020-21 CSO Proof series begins on January 13, 2021 with a CSO-commissioned world premiere produced in collaboration with Liquid Music. Dolorian Days-A Collective Memory of the Future is a semi-staged song cycle by William Brittelle created in collaboration with nine performing musicians from a variety of backgrounds. Grounded in the retro-futurism of '80's culture, Dolorian Days serves as a requiem for our collective lost future via a semi-narrative, semi-staged evening-length song cycle. Juxtaposing newly composed songs for an electro-acoustic ensemble of dynamic musical polymaths with re-contextualized elements of the '80's sound that has come to soundtrack our collective nostalgia, Dolorian Days uses the language of our shared past to look forward into our uncertain future.

The second CSO Proof, on March 3, 2021 and entitled Departure-Transition-Abschied, is curated and conducted by CSO Creative Partner Matthias Pintscher, who writes: "I envision an evening that allows us to experience something that is deep down inside of us but remains below the surface. It has to do with the unconscious as a general phenomenon, being able to let go and take a detour to explore the unknown and unexperienced... the last movement of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde is a key element in this experience." In addition to the Mahler, there will be works by Jay Schwartz, Yann Robin, Xenakis, Grisey, Lachenmann, Takemitsu, and Cage.

The final CSO Proof of the 2020-21 season, on April 30, 2021 in the Music Hall Ballroom, is The Right to Be Forgotten: Volume One, a CSO co-commission with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Oregon Symphony from composer/pianist/vocalist Gabriel Kahane. Kahane's new song cycle examines our cultural and economic obsessions with convenience and efficiency, and the debts that accrue as a result: debts to labor, to the planet, to privacy, and, increasingly to our free will.

On April 16, 2021, Pops Conductor John Morris Russell will conduct the Orchestra's annual Classical Roots concert at Music Hall. For nearly two decades, Classical Roots has been a Cincinnati community staple, and what started as a small concert series in 2001 has grown into a diverse community of music lovers, united in celebration of the rich legacy of African American music and the African American experience. At its center is the all-volunteer Classical Roots Community Choir, led by Resident Conductor William Henry Caldwell, and made up of 150 singers from more than 50 churches who perform in concerts and other collaborations throughout the year.

Night/Light are intimate late-night soirées after select CSO subscription concerts. Music Hall's Wilkes Studio is transformed into a cabaret-style performance space, awash in candlelight, where guest artists from earlier in the evening perform intimate audience. Dates and guest artists to be announced.

Since its beginning, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has been a champion of the music of its time. In the CSO's first 125 years, it has given more than 325 premieres, including the historic U.S. premieres of Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 3 and 5; Strauss's An Alpine Symphony; and Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 1. World premieres given by the CSO include Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, his Lincoln Portrait, and, during the 125th anniversary season, Rouse's Symphony No. 6, the composer's final opus.

Premieres The 2020-21 season offers four CSO-commissioned world premieres, by Kinds of Kings, Christopher Cerrone, Gabriela Ortiz, and William Brittelle and a CSO co-commissioned work by Gabriel Kahane. The Orchestra will also give the New York premiere of the late Christopher Rouse's Symphony No. 6 at Lincoln Center.

There are several works throughout the season by living composers that are relatively new in the repertoire or new to the CSO. "As much as it is important to constantly commission and perform premieres and write new chapters of music history, it is crucial to also perform contemporary pieces after their premiere, offering to them other interpreters, other audiences, other angles and visions," said Louis Langrée. "One excellent example of that in our season will be that violinist Leila Josefewicz is bringing the concerto Andrew Norman wrote for her. She and Matthias Pintscher will be wonderful guides for the Orchestra and the audience, and this collaboration will then be part of the natural evolution of the piece."

In addition to the Norman, the CSO will perform works by Sofia Gubaidulina, James Lee III, Daníel Bjarnason, two pieces by Anna Thorvalsdottir and the second hearing of a work from Julia Adolphe commissioned by the CSO and given its world premiere in May of 2020 as part of the 125th anniversary season.

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