Omaha Symphony Will Celebrate 100th Anniversary Season With Brian Stokes Mitchell, Yo-Yo Ma and More

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Omaha Symphony Will Celebrate 100th Anniversary Season With Brian Stokes Mitchell, Yo-Yo Ma and More

With a nod to the past, and an eye toward the future, the Omaha Symphony announced details today of its diverse and vibrant centennial season, celebrating 100 years of music in Omaha, and a year-long swan song for Music Director Thomas Wilkins, who will retire from the position at the close of the season.

Special guest artists include cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist André Watts, and jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis, the Omaha premiere of several new works, the return of popular groups like Pink Martini and the Doo Wop Project, and a free community concert at Turner Park to kick off the season.

"As the Omaha Symphony approaches its centennial, we want to thank Omaha for a century of support for its orchestra," said Jennifer Boomgaarden, Omaha Symphony president & CEO. "The 2020/21 season's exceptional array of programs both celebrates the past and offers an exciting springboard to the future, as we seek ever more inclusive and relevant ways to serve our community and region."

"In my final year as the Omaha Symphony's artistic leader, it is a joy to showcase the incredible talent and unmatched versatility of this orchestra," added Music Director Thomas Wilkins. "What an honor it is to invite world-renowned guest artists and friends to share our stage and join in celebrating this milestone season and the great community we call home."

Wilkins, who has helmed the Omaha Symphony since 2005, will retire at the close of the 2020/2021 season. He is the longest-serving music director in the organization's history. A search for his replacement is under-way.

NET, Nebraska's PBS and NPR stations, is currently producing an hour-long documentary, "Behind the Baton," that will take viewers on a journey to experience, through Wilkins' eyes, the workings of a symphony orchestra. Using footage, scenes, and interviews on location in Omaha and with other orchestras that Wilkins conducts, the documentary will be broadcast in September 2020.

In another commitment to the long-term health of the Omaha Symphony, the organization recently reached a record six-year contract with the orchestra musicians that will go through 2025.

Along with the season announcement, the Omaha Symphony also unveiled a new logo, created by Oxide Design Co. The logo is part of a larger re-branding effort to usher in a new era for the Omaha Symphony, including highlighting the crossover between the organization's six unique series. Next season, the Pops, Rocks, and Movies series will fall under the "Live! with the Omaha Symphony" umbrella, to better serve patrons interested in a wide variety of musical styles. Two concerts will "cross over" between the three series for a more fluid ticket package.

Season ticket subscribers can begin renewing their subscription packages on February 18 via mail, phone, or online at Subscribers receive a 15% discount when adding tickets to concerts not included in their subscription package.

The musically diverse concert season will include a number of "bucket list" works requested by Wilkins, including both classical and contemporary favorites. Highlights from the 2020/2021 season include:

• MasterWorks series: Wilkins will open the season conducting an all-American program with works by Copland and Joan Tower, a commissioned piece by Michael Daugherty making its world premiere, and Wilkins' personal friend, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, performing John Williams' Escapades. Pianist André Watts will perform Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (learned with his right hand), on a program that also includes a Wilkins' personal request, Dvorak's Symphony No. 8. An Omaha favorite, Joshua Roman will return for his fifth time, performing Walton's Cello Concerto alongside Respighi's Fountains of Rome. Wilkins will close his music directorship of the Omaha Symphony with Mahler's Symphony No. 8, known as the "Symphony of a Thousand" for the large-scale instrumental and vocal forces it requires.

• Symphony Joslyn series: Art and music lovers will enjoy works by Ravel, Mozart, and Strauss, as well as Brahms Serenade No. 2, Wagner Siegfried Idyll, Beethoven Symphony No. 7, and Sibelius Symphony No. 3.

• Symphony Pops series: Back by popular demand, the Doo Wop Project and Pink Martini will each headline audience-favorite concerts; the annual Physicians Mutual Omaha Symphony Christmas Celebration provides the perfect holiday treat, and Music Theatre Wichita will follow up their successful South Pacific in Concert from two years ago with Carousel - in Concert. Tony Award winner for Best Actor in a Musical for Kiss Me Kate, Brian Stokes Mitchell joins us for a night of Broadway classics. The Pops Series will also feature two crossover concerts available in other series as well: one performance of the Tribute to Aretha Franklin concert will be available to Saturday Pops and the other to Symphony Rocks subscribers, and Mary Poppins, in Concert Live-to-Film, featuring the full-length film, will be available to both Sunday Pops and Movies series subscribers.

• Symphony Rocks series: The Symphony Rocks series will celebrate the best in rock music with tribute concerts to the music of Paul Simon, Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, and Elton John.

• Movies Series: The Movies series will feature three full-length films: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Concert; Mary Poppins, in Concert Live-to-Film; and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert.

• Family series: Three family-friendly concerts invite kids of all ages to experience the orchestra: Symphony Spooktacular: Mermaids, Minions, and More; The Musical Adventures of Melvin the Explorer; and Peter and the Wolf.

• Special concerts include the Omaha Symphony centennial Gala featuring Yo-Yo Ma, a free community concert at Turner Park in September, and the annual Choral Collaborative concert, featuring Carmina Burana.

For ticketing information: Contact the Omaha Symphony at 402-345-0606, or online at

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