(NEWARK, NJ) -- The artistry of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Xian Zhang is “Front & Center” in the Orchestra’s 2019–20 season, announced today. Classical highlights include a Winter Festival featuring works from the stage—including Wagner’s The Ring Without Words, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and Mozart’s Don Giovanni—performances of co-commissions from Qigang Chen and Christopher Rouse, a weekend of Beethoven’s complete piano concertos, key artistic partnerships with diverse organizations, return engagements by audience-favorite guest artists and solo turns by multiple NJSO musicians.
Fulfilling its mission as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO offers classical series in Newark, New Brunswick, Princeton, Morristown, Red Bank and Englewood, with 14 weeks of subscription classical programs and two family programs. Special concerts in Newark include Handel’s Messiah at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart and a Lunar New Year Celebration at NJPAC. 2019–20 pops concerts will be announced at a later date.
Zhang says: “Diverse musical voices are front and center in the 2019–20 season. From the Baroque to modern eras, we feature women composers of the past and present, a Winter Festival of dramatic scores from ballet and opera stages, artists from Europe, Asia and America—plus our own talented NJSO musicians—and young-artist collaborations with the Metropolitan Opera and Sphinx Organization.”
As part of its ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion on stage and in concert programming, the Orchestra’s partnership with the Sphinx Organization brings two Sphinx Competition winners to NJSO stages, and a cultural tradition continues with a festive Lunar New Year Celebration in Newark. The Orchestra highlights the voices of women composers from Clara Schumann (Piano Concerto with Inon Barnatan) to New Jersey resident Sarah Kirkland Snider (Hiraeth) and Brooklyn-based Anna Clyne (Within Her Arms).
The Opening Weekend program pairs music and film. The Orchestra performs Snider’s Hiraeth with a film by Mark DeChiazza; NASA visuals accompany Holst’s masterpiece in The Planets—An HD Odyssey. The program opens with Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1. The NJSO welcomes back the women of Newark Voices, a Newark-based community choir the NJSO established to celebrate the voices of its own communities, for Holst’s The Planets.
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Artist-in-residence Louis Lortie headlines a special weekend honoring the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth; he performs all five of the composer’s piano concertos across two concert programs. Lortie returns for the NJSO’s season finale, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24.
In a new collaboration, singers from the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program join the NJSO for a concert performance of scenes from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Showcasing the talent within the Orchestra, several NJSO musicians take center stage as featured soloists. Principal Bassoon Robert Wagner gives the East-Coast premiere of Christopher Rouse’s Bassoon Concerto—a work the NJSO co-commissioned in honor of Wagner’s 40th season with the Orchestra. Concertmaster Eric Wyrick performs Mozart’s Fourth Violin Concerto during the Winter Festival. Assistant Concertmaster Adriana Rosin and Assistant Principal Cello Na-Young Baek join a pair of Sphinx Competition winners for concertos by Vivaldi.
2020 WINTER FESTIVAL
Zhang’s love of music from opera and ballet inspires three weeks of works from the stage in the 2020 Winter Festival. Her handpicked scenes and arias from Mozart’s Don Giovanni tell the opera’s story, featuring singers from the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. The music is front and center in Wagner’s The Ring Without Words, arranged by Zhang’s mentor Lorin Maazel, and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet provides crowd-pleasing drama in this timeless story of star-crossed lovers.
PREMIERES & COMMISSIONS
Continuing her commitment to introducing new works to NJSO audiences, Zhang conducts the US premiere of Qigang Chen’s La joie de la souffrance and the East-Coast premiere of Rouse’s Bassoon Concerto—both NJSO co-commissions.
The season also features several works new to the NJSO, including Snider’s Hiraeth, Rebel’s “Chaos” from Les élémens, Clyne’s Within Her Arms, Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto, Wagner’s The Ring Without Words arranged by Lorin Maazel, Mason Bates’ Attack Decay Sustain Release and Mahler’s Symphony No. 7.
INSPIRED PRESENTATIONS OF CORE REPERTOIRE
Season highlights include Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Brahms’ Second Symphony and Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony, Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto, Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Fifth Symphony and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24.
In honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the NJSO presents all five of the composer’s piano concertos, as well as his Second and Third Symphonies.
The 2019–20 season sees the return of audience-favorite guest artists, including pianists Inon Barnatan, George Li and Simon Trpčeski; violinist Ning Feng; mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges and conductors Christoph König and Nicholas McGegan.
Pianist Juho Pohjonen, violinists Simone Porter and Akiko Suwanai and conductors Markus Stenz, Andrey Boreyko, Henrik Nánási and Roderick Cox make their NJSO debuts.
Showcasing its own musicians, the NJSO presents Principal Bassoon Robert Wagner in the East-Coast premiere of Rouse’s Bassoon Concerto and Concertmaster Eric Wyrick in Mozart’s Fourth Violin Concerto. Associate Concertmaster Adriana Rosin and Assistant Principal Cello Na-Young Baek each perform a Vivaldi double concerto with a Sphinx Competition winner; Rosin also performs Vivaldi’s Concerto for Three Violins in F Major, RV 551, with the two Sphinx violinists.
The NJSO partners with the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program for scenes from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Montclair State University Singers for Handel’s Messiah and women of Newark Voices for Holst’s The Planets—An HD Odyssey. In a partnership with the Sphinx Organization, the NJSO welcomes Sphinx competition winners Rubén Rengel and Eduardo Rios for concertos by Vivaldi. The Orchestra brings Handel’s Messiah to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, a longtime collaborative partner.
GALA OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION
Special Opening Night Celebration Gala festivities surround Zhang and the NJSO’s October 11 performance of Holst’s The Planets—An HD Odyssey, Snider’s Hiraethand Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1. Gala packages include a pre-concert cocktail party and post-concert dinner with Zhang, NJSO musicians and special guests at NJPAC in Newark.
The NJSO presents a pair of engaging family programs—Peter and the Wolf and a concert of Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony and American-inspired music from Florence Price, Leonard Bernstein and more—in the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark. Each concert has two showtimes and features special pre-concert events designed to bring young audiences closer to the music and music makers.
NJSO EDWARD T. CONE COMPOSITION INSTITUTE
The Orchestra continues the NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute—a partnership between the Edward T. Cone Foundation, Princeton University and the NJSO—July 15–20, 2019. Promising emerging composers will have their work rehearsed by the NJSO and guest conductor Cristian Măcelaru, participate in masterclasses with Institute Director Steven Mackey and receive feedback from NJSO musicians. The Institute will provide sessions with industry leaders in publishing, licensing, promotion and music preparation to give participants a foundation for a successful career in composition. It concludes with an NJSO performance of the participants’ works on July 20 at Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University. Learn more at njsymphony.org/institute.
Classical and family subscriptions are now on sale for the 2019–20 season. Full information on ticket packages for each series and venue is available at njsymphony.org/subscribe; subscriptions are available for purchase online or by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476). Single tickets will go on sale in August.
2019–20 pops concerts will be announced at a later date.
PHOTOS BY FRED STUCKER