From Music Director Daniel Meyer
October 7 - Beethoven's Triple
We open our season with three brilliant B’s. Samuel Barber’s Overture to the School for Scandal is the brash utterance of a young American composer looking to make his mark. Inspired by the witty banter and chatter of Sheridan’s play, Scandal soars with remarkable melodies and fanciful flights of musical whimsy. We then dive back into our four-year celebration of the music of Beethoven, inviting Erie favorite violinist Elena Urioste with two of her favorite collaborative partners, pianist Michael Brown and cellist Nick Canellakis. Beethoven’s Triple Concerto is a compositional tour-de-force, deftly integrating the sound of these three solo instruments into a concerto perfectly suited to an opening night celebration. Brahms waited until his 34th year to reveal his staggering First Symphony; he labored long to bring the work into life. Intimidated by the enormous mountain Beethoven had already scaled with his nine symphonies, Brahms admitted that he felt the pressure before making his own contribution to the form. Consequently, we have a brilliant combination of technical mastery coupled with depth of thought and emotion in one towering, triumphant symphony.
November 4 - Zarathustra Speaks
This evening of musical drama opens with an evocation of ancient brotherhood in Estonian Arvo Pärt’s Fratres. Set for strings, claves, and a single bass drum, Fratres emerges as a striking example of how rich and spiritual music can evolve out of humble ingredients. Young Armenian and former Tchaikovsky Competition-wining cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan makes his Erie Philharmonic debut with Shostakovich’s searing Cello Concerto No. 1. We finish with Also Sprach Zarathustra; from those famous first few bars, a rumble of an organ leads to a triumphant blast of the brass. Strauss’ infamous tone poem has appeared in numerous commercials and movie soundtracks, perhaps most notably featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey. This music will erupt in sonic splendor as the Erie Philharmonic performs this score laden with orchestral majesty and invention.
Scheherazade - January 27
Inspired by tales and impressions of the sea, our January program begins with English composer Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes. Originally designed to be performed between the acts of his opera Peter Grimes, this music churls and sprays with tempestuous force and holds its own as a stand-alone work. Then Spanish guitar virtuoso Pablo Villegas makes his Erie Philharmonic debut in the music of one of the previous century’s premier composers for the acoustic guitar. Steeped in rich Spanish musical tradition, Rodrigo’s Fantasia par un gentilhombre is an imaginative and richly-woven musical tale that could come from no other part of the world. To finish this evening of musical storytelling, we present Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous Scheherazade. Inspired by tales from the Arabian Nights, the famous Sultana is represented by a solo violin, and she avoids execution at the hands of her vengeful husband by weaving tales of infinite color and imagination. Our own concertmaster Ken Johnston will take the virtuosic solo violin role, as the members of the Philharmonic bring Rimsky-Korsakov’s score to life in technicolor extravagance.
The Brilliance of Beethoven - March 10-11
Beethoven 4/4. We are now well into our four-season exploration of what makes Beethoven such a musical giant, and we look forward to a major celebration of his life and works in honor of his birthday in 2020. Along our journey, this March performance takes us through two brilliant contributions to the piano literature: his Concerto No. 4 and the Choral Fantasy. Beloved northwest Pennsylvania piano virtuoso Alec Chien takes the solo spotlight in both works. The Fourth Concerto marks a significant point in Beethoven’s creative life, where the heroic nature of his style is perfectly matched with an introspective and expressive voice. The Choral Fantasy serves as a preamble of sorts: using a full chorus, soloists, and a solo piano, this work points towards how Beethoven would amass similar forces to change the symphony forever in his ‘Ode to Joy.’ Between these two works, we celebrate the birthday of the great American composer Leonard Bernstein. Commissioned in 1965, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms is quintessentially Bernstein: richly melodic and striking in its catchy rhythms, all in the service of the evocative prayer-poetry of Kind David from the Book of Psalms.
Simone Dinnerstein Returns - April 7
We will open our season finale concert with Sergei Prokofiev’s witty and spirited romp through the 18th century (refracted through decidedly 20th Century lenses) in his Classical Symphony. Then Erie favorite Simone Dinnerstein returns to perform one of her specialties – the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Simone will pair one of his lively keyboard concertos with a brand new work, co-commissioned by the Erie Philharmonic, by American icon Philip Glass. Designed for the same orchestral forces as the Bach, Glass’ new Concerto for Piano and Orchestra is destined to become an important contribution to the genre. Our evening and 17-18 season comes to a stunning close with Ravel’s music from his ballet Daphnis et Chloé. In two suites extracted from the full ballet, Ravel chose the most sumptuous and sensuous music from his iconic ballet to feature the sheer power and sweep of an orchestra in full bloom.