The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's 2009-10 classics season opens in September with a Bach concerto featuring the celebrated violinists Gil Shaham and his wife, Adele Anthony. After their concerto, the BPO is playing Beethoven's Ninth. That means listeners will leave with the famous "Ode to Joy" ringing in their ears.
It's a great way to begin what looks like a sunny season.
The Philharmonic is embarking on its upcoming season from a position of relative financial strength. It shows in its soloists, who include the renowned pianist Peter Serkin, who has not played with the orchestra in at least 20 years, and percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who will be presenting the world premiere of a new percussion concerto.
And here is something that has not happened in a long time: The orchestra will be going on tour. In March 2010, the BPO is trekking to Florida for concerts in five cities.
"It's been a long time since we've gone on tour," said Music Director JoAnn Falletta. "We're going on tour for several weeks. It's good for us to get out and have the challenge of doing a tour. And there are so many Buffalonians who are in Florida. It makes sense for us to go there."
The tour will include a stop in Miami, where Serkin will be the soloist in Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1, the same piece he will be playing a few weeks beforehand in Kleinhans Music Hall. It's the kind of high-profile concert that can help reaffirm the BPO's prominence in the international spotlight.
Other things, too, are out of the ordinary.
A Viennese Festival in November stretches over two weekends and includes Schoenberg's lovely "Transfigured Night" as well as such little-heard gems as Schubert dances arranged by Anton Webern, and "Symphonic Night Music" by Joseph Marx, a late-Romantic composer whose music is just beginning to be rediscovered.
Two concerts feature the lyrical music of Czech composer Josef Suk. Lebanese pianist Abdel Rahman El-Bacha, visiting for the first time, will be playing the enchanting, seldom-heard Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 1. And the soprano Hila Plitmann, who recently teamed up with the Philharmonic for the Grammy-winning recording of the songs of John Corigliano, is returning as the soloist in Mahler's Fourth Symphony.
An impressive list of pianists arriving for the 2009-10 season includes Roman Rabinovitch, Fabio Bidini, William Wolfram and Philippe Bianconi. Among violinists, the schedule features a few notable up-and-coming young women: Caroline Goulding, who gave a lovely Mozart performance at Artpark last summer, Elena Urioste and Jennifer Frautschi.
"I think that's part of what every orchestra should do," Falletta said. "It's great to bring in Van Cliburn or Yo-Yo Ma, but we're part of creating the future of our arts world, and a lot of this is really talented young players who are building their careers. That's exciting."
The Philharmonic is welcoming Michael Christie back for one concert as guest conductor. The 34-year-old Christie, a graduate of West Seneca East, is currently the conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic.
>Bach, Beethoven and more / Next season's BPO classics schedule
Oct. 3: The Opening Gala features Bach's Concerto for Two Violins and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with Gil Shaham and Adele Anthony as soloists.
Oct. 17 to 18: Fuchs' "An American Place," Rachmaninoff's First Piano Concerto featuring pianist Abdel Rahman El-Bacha, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5.
Oct. 31 to Nov. 1: Schoenberg's "Transfigured Night" and Mahler's Fourth Symphony, with soprano Hila Plitmann.
Nov. 13 to 14: Joseph Marx's "Symphonic Night Music," Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 and Mozart's 23rd Piano Concerto, with Roman Rabinovitch. Also music of Fritz Kreisler, with Concertmaster Michael Ludwig.
Nov. 21 to 22: Michael Christie conducts Webern's arrangement of Schubert's German Dances, Schubert's Symphony No. 2 and waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.
Dec. 4 to 5: Bernhard Gueller conducts Respighi's "Botticelli Tryptich," Victor Herbert's Cello Concerto No. 2 featuring cellist Allison Eldredge, and Sibelius' Symphony No. 2.
Dec. 11 to 12: Classical Christmas.
Jan. 30 to 31: Mozart's Overture to "The Abduction From the Seraglio"; the Oboe Concerto in C featuring BPO Principal Oboist Pierre Roy; the "Haffner" Symphony and the Violin Concerto No. 5, with Caroline Goulding.
Feb. 5 to 6: Jorge Mester conducts Alfven's "Midsommervaka," Sibelius' Violin Concerto with Jennifer Frautschi; Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony.
Feb. 20: Serkin plays Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1. Also, Copland's "El Salon Mexico" and "Appalachian Spring" Suite.
March 6 to 7: Ravel Piano Concerto in G with Fabio Bidini; Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2.
March 27 to 28: Christopher Wilkins conducts Glazunov's Violin Concerto with Elena Urioste; Schubert's Symphony No. 9.
April 9 to 10: Dvorak's Symphony No. 8. Michael Ludwig plays Josef Suk's Violin Fantasy.
April 17 to 18: Gershwin's "Cuban Overture" and Revueltas' "Night of the Mayas." Evelyn Glennie performs Eric Ewazen's Percussion Concerto.
May 1 to 2: Pianist William Wolfram plays Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2. Also, Suk's "Scherzo Fantastique" and "Fairy Tale (Pohadka Suite)."
Mary 15 to 16: Brahms' "Requiem" and the premiere of John Taverner Cello Concerto, with Principal Cellist Roman Mekinulov.
June 12 to 13: Philippe Bianconi plays Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto. Also, Stravinsky's "Fireworks" and Berlioz's "Symphony Fantastique."
-- Mary Kunz Goldman