Long Beach Symphony, under its new Music Director Eckart Preu, announces its 2018-19 Classical Concert Series comprising six concerts beginning September 29, 2018 and ending June 8, 2019. Adding a bit of the unorthodox, the new season provides its largely regional audience with monumental masterworks that defined the art form combined with many rare and new works that add dimension, sophistication, and spark.
“It is truly fascinating to observe the programming process of our new Music Director Eckart Preu,” commented Executive Director Kelly Lucera. “He has crafted a season with the intention of showcasing the immense talent of our ensemble while considering the audience’s musical journey.”
Preu explained his rationale for the season, saying, “I wanted to present an exciting variety of composers, styles, and experiences – from the small but fiery ensemble of Frank Zappa’s G-Spot Tornado to the monumental Ninth Symphony by Beethoven. Our programs will feature six very different concert experiences showcasing the orchestra in pivotal masterpieces of the repertoire, as well as introducing exciting, but unknown, works to our loyal audience, so they can hear what’s happening now in the world of classical music.”
Opening night (September 29) is a fusion of contemporary American works in celebration of the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein. It begins with Frank Zappa’s frenetic G-Spot Tornado, then mellows to Gerschwin’s jazz-infused Second Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra and his iconic Rhapsody in Blue, before bursting forth with a work called Mothership by living composer Mason Bates, who was a Bernstein protégé. The program ends with music by the honoree: Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.
“Our musicians count among the most talented in the greater L.A. region,” said Preu. “They’ve had command of the traditional orchestra repertoire for many years and are eager to take on the challenge of newer works. At the time he wrote it, Frank Zappa thought his G-Spot Tornado would be too difficult for humans to play, but believe me, the Long Beach Symphony is more than capable of executing its throbbing motifs!”
The season presents masterworks of epic proportion, such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, and his 9th Symphony that ends with vocal soloists and chorus promoting universal brotherhood in the Ode to Joy libretto by Schiller. Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, Jupiter, Haydn’s Symphony No. 85, La Reine, Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music, Brahms’ virtuosic Violin Concerto, Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and works by Sibelius and Dvořák are also part of the season’s foundation.
But, it is the works by lesser known and more recent composers that add color and nuance. Gen-Xers Mason Bates from San Francisco and Daniel Bjarnason from Iceland are shaping the future of the classical genre. In his Mothership, Bates presents highly virtuosic riffs floating over electro-acoustic orchestral figuration, while Bjarnason gives us food for thought in his 2010 composition Bow to String, in which the first movement is entitled “Sorrow Conquers Happiness” and the third “Air to Breathe.” The work is rich with cello and percussion.
November 10 brings a rare work by British composer Lilian Elkington, whose Out of the Mist (1921) was inspired by the return of the ship carrying the coffin of the Unknown Soldier. The manuscript was discovered in a pawn shop after her death. It is one of her only known works. The February 2, 2019 concert includes Overture to L’amant anonyme by the first classical composer of African ancestry, Josef Boulogne.
“Regrettably,” explains Preu, “some people associate contemporary music with atonality and dissonance, but that is simply not true. Many recent works are so sublime that they foster meditation and introspection.”
Such is the case with the March 9, 2019, concert that explores music of various vintages from Finland, Iceland and Russia, beginning with Rautavaara’s mystical Symphony No. 7, Angel of Light (1994). The April 29 concert features Arvo Pärt’s other-worldly Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten (1977) for string orchestra and bell; a canon that employs his unique “tintinnabuli” compositional style and is influenced by the composer’s mystical experiences with chant music. Other notable works on this program include the celestial sounds of Argentine composer Golijov’s Sidereus, written 2010 to commemorate Galileo, and the Violin Concerto by 1940’s Hollywood film composer Erich Korngold, whose rapturous melodies will be executed by a guest soloist.
A full listing of the works on each concert for the 2018-19 season, including the featured soloists and guest artists, is shown below.“There are many stories to be told, lots of great music to be listened to, many great times to be had,” added Maestro Preu. “I look forward to sharing this colorful, meaningful and exciting season with the orchestra and our audience!”
Patrons may choose from six subscription options ranging from $126-$480 for all 6 concerts. For more information or to purchase subscriptions visit www.LongBeachSymphony.org or call 562-436-3203.
This article was released by the Long Beach Symphony.