The Springfield Symphony Orchestra begins a new season on October 22
The music of Zoltan Kodaly, Edward Elgar and Antonin Dvorak will lift the roof of Symphony Hall on October 22 as the Springfield Symphony Orchestra begins its 2022-2023 season with world-renowned conductor JoAnn Falletta on the podium and the guest cellist Joshua Roman as soloist in Elgar’s exquisite ‘Cello Concerto’.
Recently named one of Gramophone Magazine’s “Fifty Great Conductors” past and present, Falletta is Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Laureate Music Director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and Artistic Advisor to the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra.
38-year-old Roman is famous for his visionary performances of a vast repertoire. He is also recognized as an accomplished composer and curator and was named a TED Senior Fellow in 2015.
In a recent telephone conversation, the symphony orchestra’s acting general manager, Paul Lambert, expressed his eagerness to launch the orchestra’s eight-concert season which will include six classical events and two popular events.
“One of the really exciting things about this season is the diversity and depth of talent that is coming to Springfield to be part of this very important season for the single sign-on“, said Lambert. “I was delighted to hear how enthusiastic the musicians of the SSO were about the conductors and the musical choices that were made for the season.”
Bringing Falletta for the opening concert of the season is a real coup for the SSO. His performing and recording credits are legion and include a Grammy Award for his 2019 Naxos recording of Kenneth Fuchs’ piano concerto “The Spiritualist” with the London Symphony. The Springfield Symphony happened to give the world premiere of “The Spiritualist”, with solo pianist Jeffrey Biegel under the direction of Kevin Rhodes in 2016.
Falletta will perform Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta” and Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 7” with the orchestra and collaborate with soloist Roman on Elgar’s “Cello Concerto” as the centerpiece of the concert.
Roman has garnered eloquent praise from critics for his interpretations of this cornerstone of cello repertoire. One reviewer wrote: “Roman, who seemed to disappear into the music as he created it, bathed in pure sonic haze. Remember his name: he will be in the pantheon of Jacqueline du Pré, Pablo Casals and Yo-Yo Ma, all interpreters of this great work.
The concert opens a captivating season dotted with standards from the repertoire such as Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2”, Jean Sibelius’ “Symphony No. 2” and Johannes Brahms’ “Symphony No. 3”. and introduce Springfield audiences to rarities like “The Messenger” by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, the “Piano Concerto in D minor” by African-American composer Florence Price and the “Cello Concerto” by Ukrainian composer Thomas de Hartmann.
On the popular side, William Waldrop will lead a holiday pop program featuring guest soprano Camille Zamora with the Springfield Symphony Chorus, curated by Nikki Stoia, on December 3. Trumpeter Byron Stripling returns to Springfield on February 23 to lead the SSO in a Mardi Gras-themed program focused on New Orleans jazz.
The approach of hiring guest conductors for each concert has served the SSO best for the current season, according to Lambert. “The process of finding a permanent music director is long,” he said, “and I think the candidates would be looking to see if things are stable here, both work-wise and economically. , before signing up. We’ll see where we are this year. It’s important to build together across all facets of our organization towards a positive future.
Guest conductors hired this season in addition to Falletta include Rhode Island Philharmonic Principal Conductor Tania Miller; Kevin Scott (also a prolific composer whose work was premiered by Falletta); Mark Russell Smith, conductor of the SSO from 1995 to 2000 and current music director of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra; Tian-Hui Ng, conductor of the Pioneer Valley Symphony, Boston Opera Collaborative, Victory Players and newly appointed music director of the New England Philharmonic; and Theodore Kuchar, principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra in Ukraine.
Although there is still no finalized collective agreement between the musicians’ union and the management of the symphony orchestra, Lambert said the musicians have signed contracts to play the current season. He added that he felt good progress had been made over the past few months towards what he called “a positive and cohesive future”.
The orchestra is complete and the directors recently added three new members, according to Lambert. Although these times remain difficult for the orchestra, he promised: “We are not going to limp back. We’re going to produce great music in a great venue with top-notch talent. We need to work harder to invite people to come downtown to join us for these concerts – to rediscover the joy of it. There are so many different ways to access music now…but there’s something special about being in the room where the magic happens.
Tickets range from $15 to $70 and are available online at springfieldsymphony.org or by calling the box office at 413-733-2291.