Fort Worth — The Fort Worth Symphony’s 2015-'16 season was announced this week. Most will focus on the special appearance of a concert with actor/singer/comic Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame; but let’s get to the big news about the classical season, which not only features some of the great masterpieces of past eras, but also demonstrates a remarkable commitment to performing the music of our time.
In recent years, the FWSO was alone among local professional orchestras to have featured a composer-in-residence (that changes with the upcoming announcement of the Dallas Symphony’s 2015-’16 season).
Music Director Miguel Harth-Bedoya tops this laudable record by inviting three outstanding American composers to be part of the season. Adam Schoenberg’s American Symphony will open the season, Mason Bates’ Mothership and Cello Concerto will follow in January and Cindy McTee’s Double Play is scheduled for March.
Of course, there is a big helping of the standard repertoire, but there are also some intriguing selections of lesser-performed works by major composers.
For example: in September, FWSO plays Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, October brings Berlioz’s orchestral song cycle Les nuits d’ete with mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne, and Lutostawski’s Concerto for Orchestra. November brings a real rarity, Koussevitzky’s Concerto for Double Bass with principal bass William Clay doing the honors. February brings two sets of dances from other works, Ginastera’s Four Dances from Estancia and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.
As far as the standard stuff, there is much to be savored: Mendelssohn’s lilting Italian Symphony, Brahms’ less-often performed Third Symphony and another Third Symphony, this time from Beethoven. We will hear Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Violin Concerto and Fifth Symphony. Ravel’s Bolero will get another outing.
There are two orchestrations of works originally for something else. One is Arnold Schoenberg’s orchestration of the Brahms’ Piano Quintet. Schoenberg was the inventor of serial technique and the father of atonality. As such, seeing his name on a program usually sends the audience running for the exit. Not so here. His take on Brahms is fascinating. The other is Edward Elgar’s lush and romantic take on Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor.
The current holder of Cliburn Gold, Vadym Kholodenko, will complete his cycle of playing all of Prokofiev’s piano concerti. Midori will play the Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto. Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier perform Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos No. 10. Violinist Caroline Goulding will play Paganini’s finger-busting First Concerto and Javier Perianes plays Saint-Saëns’ Fifth Piano Concerto.
Guest conductors are Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Marcelo Lehninger and Leonard Slatkin, who conducted the orchestra for the finals of the recent Cliburn competition and will be the 2017 Cliburn Jury Chairman.
Considering the season’s adventurous programming, the festival that kicks off the season, Aug. 28-30, is disappointing: Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart. The highlight will be an appearance of Steven Lin, who took the John Giordano Jury Chairman Discretionary Award at the 2013 Cliburn competition.
The pops series features some themed concerts. One will be based around the tango, one for the holiday/Christmas celebration and another for Oscar-winning movie music. They will also play a tribute to Louis Armstrong and Bugs Bunny.
Special concerts include trumpeter Doc Severinsen, jazz vocalist Dee Daniels and Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander performs an evening of comedy and song, plus the annual trip through Handel’s Messiah.
The orchestra will continue to collaborate with the Texas Ballet Theater, the Fort Worth Opera, Performing Arts Fort Worth and the Cliburn Foundation, and mark their first appearance at the Cliburn Amateur Competition in June of 2016. They will also perform run-outs in communities around the state such as Waxahachie and Glen Rose.
Season tickets are available at the ticket Office 817-665-6000 or online at www.fwsymphony.org. Season tickets are available for as little as $16 a concert. Single tickets go on sale July 27.