Enter your email address and click subscribe to receive new articles in your email inbox:

CSO 11-12, Play by Play

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Sep 25, 2011 - 12:39:26 PM in news_2011

Re-posted and revised from "Features," January 30, 2011, "CSO's 2011-12 Season Star-Studded"

Philip Glass

In one of the more glorious holding actions outside the sports arena, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has lined up a team of all stars to head its 2011-12 season.

Co-creative directors for its first season without a music director since the death of Thomas Schippers over 30 years ago, are none other than conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, pianist Lang Lang and composer Philip Glass.  Each artist has planned and will participate in a segment of the new season.

The Spanish maestro, Musical America’s 2011 Conductor of the Year, has assembled the CSO’s ten-concert “Grand Masterworks” series, and leads CSO concerts Sept. 22 and 24 and Nov. 11 and 12 at Music Hall.

Lang Lang
Lang Lang, who spiked the CSO’s 2009-2010 season with a sold-out opening concert, will head the five-concert “ Ascent Series,” and will return twice as soloist:  Jan. 27 and 28, 2012 with the Liszt First Piano Concerto, and May 4 and 5, 2012 with Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

Philip Glass -- a household name when few contemporary composers can claim that distinction -- has put together the five-concert “Boundless Series,” and will be in residence in Cincinnati for two two-week periods.  During that time, his Cello Concerto No. 2 will receive its world premiere with cellist Matt Haimovitz and the CSO led by guest conductor Dennis Russell Davies (March 30 and 31, 2012) and his Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpani and Orchestra will receive its CSO premiere led by guest conductor Julian Kuerti (Sept. 30 and Oct. 1).  Soloists will be CSO timpanists Patrick Schleker and Richard Jensen.

Itzhak Perlman

(Also casting star power, the CSO's pre-season gala featuring violinist/conductor Itzhak Perlman Sept. 10 at Music Hall was a sellout.)

The music director post, vacated by Paavo Järvi at the end of last season, will be very much on everyone’s minds as the 2011-12 season unfolds.  It will be a beauty contest of sorts, with guest conductors such as:


Kristjan Järvi
Kristjan Järvi, 38. (A favorite with CSO audiences and players since conducting "Nixon in China" for Cincinnati Opera in 2007, he has returned to the CSO twice.  Music director of the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra beginning in 2012-13, he is founder and music director of New York's Absolute Ensemble, artistic advisor of the Basel Chamber Orchestra and brother of Paavo Järvi.)

Julian Kuerti
Julian Kuerti, 33. (Former assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony, Kuerti stepped in on short notice for Järvi in April, 2010, and returned later that season to lead the CSO at Greenacres.  This will be his third visit to the CSO.)

John Storgards
John Storgårds,47. (Chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic, he made an impressive debut with the CSO in April, 2010.)

Xian Zhang
Xian Zhang, 38.  (Born in China, Xian Zhang made a meteoric rise from assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music to winner of the Maazel/Vilar Conductors Competition and associate conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 2002.  She now heads Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi and the NJO / Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy.)

Add to those: the eminent Chinese conductor Long Yu (music director of the Shanghai Symphony, principal conductor, China Philharmonic); Americans Michael Francis (protégé of superstar conductor Valery Gergiev), Andrew Grams (former assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra), Pinchas Steinberg (CSO violin alumnus, former music director of the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande) and Dennis Russell Davies (music director of the Basel Symphony).

Also:  Spanish conductors Juanjo Mena (music director of the BBC Philharmonic) and  Pablo Heras Casado (winner of the Lucerne Festival Competition); Italian Nicola Luisotti (music director of San Francisco Opera); Slovakian Juraj Valcuha (music director of the RAI Orchestra of Turin); German Jun Märkl (conductor of Japan’s first Wagner “Ring” cycle); Costa Rican Giancarlo Guerrero (music director of the Nashville Symphony); and French conductors Ludovic Morlot (newly appointed music director of the Seattle Symphony) and Stephane Deneve (music director of the Stuttgart Radio and Scottish National Orchestras).

And who’s on first?  Guest artists are also a starry bunch, with pianists Emanual Ax, Terrence Wilson and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, violinists Christian Tetzlaff, Midori and Nicola Benedetti and the popular chamber ensemble eighth blackbird. 

Five of the CSO’s own musicians will be featured as well:  concertmaster Timothy Lees, principal cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn, principal trumpet Robert Sullivan and timpanists Schleker and Jensen.

Handel’s “Messiah” will return Dec. 18, a "sing-along" event with the May Festival Chorus directed by Robert Porco.  And continuing the orchestra’s “mini-festival” formats, a two-week Russian Festival in November, with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, Rimsky-Korsakoff’s “Sheherazade” and, blockbuster to end all blockbusters, Prokofiev’s powerful cantata “Alexander Nevsky,” again with the May Festival Chorus.

eighth blackbird
In addition to Glass’ Cello Concerto (a world premiere), there will be several CSO premieres during the season, including Astor Piazzolla’s “Sinfonia Buenos Aires,” Jennifer Higdon’s “On a Wire” with soloists eighth blackbird, Tan Dun’s Overture, “Dragon and Phoenix,” Miklos Rozsa’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Cello and Orchestra (with Lees and Finkelshteyn) and, intriguingly, Tan Dun’s “Internet” Symphony No. 1, “Eroica” (stay tuned).  To be announced for Jan. 13 and 14 is a Sphinx Consortium commission by James Lee III.

There will be a new format for the CSO’s Sunday matinee series.  Based on audience feedback, the programs will be full-length beginning at 2 p.m. and will be preceded by “Classical Conversations” (a regular feature of Friday and Saturday concerts).  Ticket prices will be 25% off for adults and $5 for children 18 and under.  There will be three “Sundays at the Symphony” next season, Nov. 13 and Feb. 12 and April 15, 2012.

The new conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, John Morris Russell, will lead the annual New Year’s Eve concert and ball on December 31.

The 2011-2012 CSO Season

Sept. 10 (non-subscription). Bach, Violin Concerto No. 1. Mozart, Symphony No. 25. Bach, Air from Suite for Orchestra No. 3. Dvorak, Symphony No. 8. Itzhak Perlman, violin/conductor.

**Sept. 22 and 24. Mozart, Violin Concerto No. 5 (“Turkish”). Mahler, Symphony No. 1 (“Titan”). Nicola Benedetti, violin. Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor.

****Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Copland, “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Philip Glass, Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpani and Orchestra. Rachmaninoff, “The Isle of the Dead.” Stravinsky, “The Firebird” Suite (1919). Patrick Schleker, Richard Jensen, timpani. Julian Kuerti,  conductor.

Giancarlo Guerrero

***Oct. 14 and 15. Piazzolla, “Sinfonia Buenos Aires.” Ravel, “Sheherazade.” Bernstein, Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story.” Ravel, “Bolero.” Nicole Cabell, soprano. Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor.

****Nov. 4 and 5. Haydn. Symphony No. 86. Khachaturian, Violin Concerto. Stravinsky, “The Rite of Spring.” Mikhail Simonyan, violin. Kristjan Järvi,  conductor.

*Nov. 11-13. Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 23. Rimsky-Korsakov, “Sheherazade.” Terrence Wilson, piano. Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor.

Pinchas Steinberg

**Nov. 17 and 19. Prokofiev, “Alexander Nevsky.” Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 1 (“Winter Dreams”). Elena Zhidkova, mezzo-soprano. May Festival Chorus, Robert Porco director.  Pinchas Steinberg, conductor.

Andrew Grams

***Dec. 2 and 3. Rimsky-Korsakov, “The Snow Maiden.” Dvorák, Violin Concerto. Tchaikovsky, “Swan Lake” Suite. Ray Chen, violin. Andrew Grams, conductor.

Dec. 18 (non-subscription). Handel, “Messiah.” May Festival Chorus, Robert Porco director.

John Morris Russell

Dec. 31 (non-subscription). New Year’s Eve concert. John Morris Russell, conductor, Cincinnati Pops

Pablo Heras Casado

**Jan. 5 and 7. Schumann, “Manfred” Overture. Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 22. Prokofiev, Symphony No. 5. Emanuel Ax, piano. Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor.

Juanjo Mena

****Jan. 13 and 14. James Lee, III. Premiere (Sphinx Commission). Jennifer Higdon, “On a Wire.” Ravel, “Daphnis et Chloe” Suites 1 and 2. eighth blackbird, soloists. May Festival Chorus, Robert Porco director. Juanjo Mena, conductor.

Jun Märkl

***Jan. 27 and 28. Wagner, Overture to “The Flying Dutchman.” Liszt, Piano Concerto No. 1. Brahms, Symphony No. 4. Lang Lang, piano. Jun Märkl, conductor.

*Feb. 3 and 4. Brahms,  "Academic Festival" Overture. Szymanowski, Violin Concerto No. 1. Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica"). Christian Tetzlaff, violin. John Storgårds conductor.

**Feb. 9, 11 and 12. Tchaikovsky, "Romeo and Juliet" Overture-Fantasy. Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 20. Schumann (arr. Mahler), Symphony No. 4. David Fray, piano. Xian Zhang, conductor.

Ludovic Morlot photo by Maike Schulz

*Feb. 24 and 25. Liszt, "From the Cradle to the Grave." Schumann, Piano Concerto. Beethoven, Symphony No. 6 ("Pastoral"). Jonathan Biss, piano. Ludovic Morlot, conductor.


Michael Francis

***March 2 and 3. Tan Dun, Overture: "Dragon and Phoenix" from "Heaven Earth Mankind," 1997. Mendelssohn, Violin Concerto. Dvorak, Symphony No. 7. Henning Kraggerud, violin. Michael Francis, conductor.

Nicola Luisotti

****March 9 and 10. Bach (arr. Stokowski), Chaconne from Partita No. 2. Rozsa, Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Cello and Orchestra. Brahms, Symphony No. 3. Timothy Lees, violin. Ilya Finkelshteyn, cello. Nicola Luisotti, conductor.

*March 23 and 24. Sibelius, Violin Concerto. Berlioz. "Symphonie fantastique." Midori, violin. Pinchas Steinberg, conductor.

Dennis Russell Davies

****March 30 and 31. Philip Glass, Cello Concerto No. 2 (world premiere). Bruckner, Symphony No. 6. Matt Haimovitz, cello. Dennis Russell Davies, conductor.

Stephane Deneve

**Apr. 12, 14 and 15. Ravel, "Le Tombeau de Couperin." Saint-Saens, Piano Concerto No. 5. Roussel, Symphony No. 3. Ravel, "La Valse." Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano. Stephane Deneve, conductor.

Juraj Valcuha

*Apr. 27 and 28. Webern, Passacaglia. Shostakovich, Piano Concerto No. 1. Rachmaninoff, Symphony No. 3. Lise de la Saile, piano. Robert Sullivan, trumpet. Juraj Valcuha, conductor.

Long Yu

***May 4 and 5. Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 6 ("Pathetique"), Tan Dun, "Internet" Symphony No. 1, "Eroica." Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 3. Lang Lang, piano. Long Yu, conductor.

*"Masterworks" A series (5 concerts)

**"Masterworks" B series (5 concerts)

***"Ascent" series (5 concerts)

****"Boundless" series (5 concerts)

"Sundays at the Symphony" (3 concerts) are Nov. 13, Feb. 12 and Apr. 15.

Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Fridays, 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at Music Hall.

Tickets are:  $200-$1,455 for all 20 concerts; $150-$1,091.25 for 15; $100-$775 for 10; $50-$412.50 for five; and $30-$209.25 for the three-concert “Sundays at the Symphony” series.  Vouchers, good for any 10 concerts, are $327.50 (gallery) and $437 .50 (orchestra and balcony).  Vouchers for any 5 concerts are $199.50 and $277.50.  Tickets for New Year’s Eve and “Messiah” start at $10.

For information and tickets, call (513) 381-3300, or visit www.cincinnatisymphony.org