Just as the Wichita Symphony Orchestra prepares to present its final classics concert of the current season, it also is ramping up for its 70th classics season, which begins in October and will include flying acrobats, guest artists and Beethoven’s Ninth.
Music Director and Conductor Daniel Hege and Executive Director Don Reinhold wanted both old favorites and show stoppers in the lineup.
“There’s something for everyone,” Reinhold said. “We’re looking to stretch our horizons.”
The season opener will feature the large orchestra pieces by Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky — “Daphnis and Chloe Suite” and “The Rite of Spring.” Identical twin sisters will play Francois Poulenc’s “Concerto for Two Pianos.”
The second classics concert will feature what is endearingly called “Rock 3.” Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 will feature piano virtuoso Joyce Yang. Rachmaninoff’s piece is paired with the quick-paced Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms and Bela Bartok’s “Miraculous Mandarin Suite,” which will show off the orchestra’s principal players as they trade off small solos.
Much of Hungarian-born Bartok’s music is inspired by his native land’s folk tunes.
“Bartok’s work shows off the orchestra wonderfully,” Reinhold said. “The music is so colorful.”
The third concert will feature the Symphony’s very own concertmaster, John Harrison, performing Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor.
“He’s a fantastic player,” Reinhold said. “This is the most popular and famous violin symphony ever written.”
Harrison, who has performed the Mendelssohn piece for several orchestras, said he is delighted to be the group’s soloist for the evening.
“It has beautiful melodies, and it’s also a very sophisticated piece,” Harrison said. “It’s a real honor to play with the orchestra. I’m extremely excited to get this opportunity.”
In 2014, Chilean native Maximiano Valdes will conduct works by 20th-century Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera and French composers Camille Saint-Saens and Cesar Franck.
“Max Valdes is fantastic,” Reinhold said. Hege and Valdes worked together to choose the fast-paced and colorful lineup.
The fifth classics event, which also will include a blue jeans concert, features the Cirque de la Symphonie. Acrobats will fly through the air and perform feats of strength, beauty and balance as the orchestra performs short classic pieces.
“It’s an opportunity to introduce people to classical music,” Reinhold said. “It’s just extraordinary.”
For the sixth concert, the orchestra will take the audience to the U.S. with John Barry’s orchestral suite from “Dances with Wolves,” Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World,” and a 1996 work by Eric Ewazen that evokes the rich heritage of the native peoples of the Americas. Ewazen designed his composition around the photography of Edward Curtis, who documented Native American ceremonies, dress and lifestyle.
“Each movement was inspired by a photograph,” Reinhold said.
The American Brass Quintet, a leading brass performance group that plays strictly classical music, will perform Ewazen’s “Shadowcatcher” with the full orchestra.
For the seventh performance, William Wolfram will perform Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
“Bill is one of the most respected pianists of the day,” Reinhold said.
Along with Liszt’s work, the concert will feature works by fellow Romantic composers Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner. Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 shows off the brass section of the orchestra.
The season will end with the ever-popular crowd pleaser Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
“It’s simply one of the pinnacles of music,” Reinhold said. “It’s just terrific.”
The symphony will announce its pops concert season later this spring.