Springfield Symphony Orchestra announces 71st season lineup

Date: 9/4/2014

SPRINGFIELD – Maestro Kevin Rhodes has crafted another season of surprises, symphonic “greatest hits,” and a string of remarkable guest artists. The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will kick off their 71st season with a true show of their mettle on Sept. 27, and will conclude on April 25, 2015 with one of the most influential works ever composed. And, in between lie our much loved Home for the Follidays holiday concert (with guest conductor Harvey Felder and many special guests), an evening of Latin guitar with classical guitar soloist Denis Azabagic and a new Pops Series featuring the renowned Jeans ‘n Classics Band.

This year’s Pops concerts promise to be a strut down rock ‘n’ roll memory lane, with true-to-the-artist interpretations of the Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in its entirety, and top selections from the catalogue of Michael Jackson as well as Earth Wind & Fire; Blood, Sweat and Tears; and Chicago. Members of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra will accompany the Jeans ‘n Classics Band & vocalists; in giving your favorite hits an orchestral treatment that all ages will love.

Executive Director Audrey Szychulski said, “We’re really looking forward to bringing Jeans ‘n Classics to Springfield! These Pops concerts offer concertgoers a riveting live experience that delivers the popular sounds of today’s music, while showcasing the talents of our incredible orchestra. And these concerts will appeal to everyone – including some who may never have attended an SSO concert before.”

As for this season’s seven evenings of classical programming, Rhodes has carefully constructed a series of essential works. “My first concern in creating the season is to attend to the core works of the orchestral condition,” Rhodes said. “Then I start pairing those popular works with a lesser known concerto, or a relative rarity for an orchestra. And I think our schedule for this season is one for the history books.”

Through his travels as a conductor in Paris, Vienna, Boston and the Far East, Rhodes has assembled an impressive catalog of guest musicians. From rising stars like violinist Caroline Goulding, to critically acclaimed artists like Spencer Myers, this year’s guests promise to fill Springfield Symphony Hall with world-class talent.

All concerts will take place on Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Deals on single tickets and season subscriptions are now available. To purchase, call the SSO Box Office at 733-2291, or visit www.springfieldsymphony.org.

The Opening Night of the 71st season begins with a spectacular Gala on Sept. 27. Rhodes and his symphony will take the audience to the ballet, on an oceanic adventure, and give them a stirring tour inside the mind of an artist, with three renowned and beloved orchestral showpieces. The season will ring in with the opening notes of Ravel’s famous “Bolero,” move to Debussy’s maritime musings with “La Mer,” and conclude with Mussorgsky’s arresting tribute to a departed friend in “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

Rhodes said, “Each of these works on their own is a concert-closer that would tax an orchestra, but we’re going to prove that you haven’t seen nothin’ yet by putting them all on one program.”

The symphony’s Oct. 25 performance features the return of guest violinist Caroline Goulding, whom Rhodes refers to as “incredible rising star.” Goulding and the symphony will treat audiences to the works of Bach, Berg, and Tchaikovsky. For Tchaikovsky, Rhodes has selected two of his Shakespeare-inspired works in “The Tempest” and the familiar “Romeo and Juliet.”

German-born violinist Axel Strauss will join the orchestra as they combine a truly American work, Kenneth Fuch’s “Out of Dark,” with Beethoven’s decidedly German “Violin Concerto in D Major.” Rhodes is especially pleased to bring Fuch’s work to the Springfield stage, as he is “one of the only composers in the world today with a recording contract … and a personal friend of mine,” Rhodes said.

Concertos by Vivaldi and Rodrigo are on tap for guest guitarist Denis Azabagic’s “Latin Guitar!” performance on Feb. 21, 2015. Azabagic will join the SSO in infusing two vibrant works with a Latin flavor. The evening will round out with “Suite No. 1” by De Falla and Respighi’s interpretation of a triptych by Botticelli. “This concert will prove you don’t need to leave Symphony Hall to take a trip around the world,” Rhodes said.

The SSO will once again marry the new world with the old for an evening of Beethoven and Bernstein on March 14, 2015. Sara Davis Buechner, one of the leading keyboardists of our time, will join the orchestra for Bernstein’s haunting evocation of W.H. Auden’s poem “The Age of Anxiety.” The evening will begin with the yin to Bernstein’s yang by means of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6,” a decidedly less-brooding exploration of the natural world.

The classical season will near its close with the “Viennese Choral Spectacular” on April 11. Four guest artists and the Springfield Symphony Chorus will join the orchestra as they deliver a rousing program of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. Returning soprano Mary Wilson will be featured as a key vocal interpreter of Mozart, while tenor William Hite and baritone David McFerrin make their debut on the Springfield stage. SSO pianist Nadine Shank also lends her talents to Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy.

The SSO will close out the season on April 25, 2015 with a Finale dedicated to new beginnings: Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” will conclude an evening of works by Wagner and Rachmaninoff.