Music News & Reviews

Wichita Symphony Orchestra: Classics in a new key

When Daniel Hege steps to the podium as the new music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra in October, symphony lovers won’t have to wait to hear how he will shape concert programming. He helped plan every concert of the 2010-2011 classics concert season. Every piece bears his stamp of approval.

“We’ll have things that play to the orchestra’s strengths, things that are popular and will be attractive to people,” Hege said. “But also, hopefully, we’ll present a few works that may not be so familiar but will have a very good reception.”

The orchestra’s 2010-2011 season officially will be unveiled Tuesday, when current subscribers begin receiving season-ticket renewal information in the mail. As in past years, the season will include eight pairs of classical concerts, plus a casual Blue Jeans performance, running from October to April. Eight- and four-concert season ticket packages will be available.

Next season, Hege will become the seventh music director in the symphony’s 67-year history. (He is also music director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in New York, a post he will retain.) He will conduct seven of the eight classics concerts next season.

Hege, 43, will succeed Andrew Sewell, whose 10-year tenure with the orchestra has three programs remaining, including this afternoon at Century II Concert Hall.

Hege’s musical choices will not veer too far from the mainstream — with three or four scintillating exceptions. Pianists dominate the soloists’ roster; among them will be Yeol Eum Son, silver medalist from the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition held last summer. Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff’s Second — among the most-beloved piano concertos in the repertoire — are on the schedule.

Hege will begin his tenure with a big bang, presenting Mahler’s 90-minute long Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” to open the season Oct. 16-17. Programming the Mahler is symbolic on two levels. First, the work’s theme of rebirth and redemption is appropriate to mark a new era of music-making.

Second, the concert involves the orchestra’s two core musical components, the orchestra itself and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra Chorus. The chorus, prepared by Cecil Riney, will include the Friends University Singing Quakers and, in a nod to Hege’s undergraduate alma mater, the Bethel College Concert Choir.

“For a Mahler chorus you definitely want a lot of very good singers there,” Hege said. “I think it will be an incredibly exciting experience for the audience.”

Other symphonic offerings include the Symphony No. 5 by Sibelius; the Symphony No. 6, “Pastorale,” by Beethoven; and the Symphony No. 4 by Brahms. There will be an all-Tchaikovsky program Feb. 19-20, with Jon Kimura Parker playing the aforementioned First Piano Concerto, along with the “Capriccio Italien” and the “1812 Overture.”

Stravinsky’s “Firebird” Suite will be paired with Valentina Lisitsa playing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto to conclude the season April 9-10.Thrown into this mix will be several short, exciting works by American composers — Michael Daugherty’s “Red Cape Tango” on Oct. 30-31; Aaron Jay Kernis’ “Musica Celestis” on Jan. 15-16; and John Corigliano’s “The Red Violin” Chaconne on March 12-13.

“American music should be a very important part of American symphonic culture,” Hege said.

“I want every symphony experience to be a great one; I want the music to be accessible and interesting. I’m trying to create a fascinating and rich balance with different works.

“And I truly believe in all of these pieces. That makes me feel good about the season.”

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2010-2011 Symphony season tickets

Season tickets are $116-$242 for the eight-concert series, or $63 to $131 for the four-concert series; discounts are available.

Renewal orders accepted beginning Wednesday. Deadline for renewals is June 4.

Minimum deposit of 25 percent is due to renew tickets.

New orders also will be accepted. Deposit of $25 per ticket is required. Seats will be assigned after change requests from current subscribers are processed.

For more information, visit or call 316-267-7658.