The Jacksonville Symphony will start its 2017-2018 season, The Season of Magic, with a fanfare. Literally. Fanfare! An Opening Night Celebration on September 16th will feature guest violinist Charlie Siem and a mix of new and old. John Adams’ The Chairman Dances, taken from his opera Nixon in China, is based on the interesting concept of Chairman Mao’s interest in ballroom dancing. From there it will move to Sibelius’s Violin Concerto and finish with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor. This is an evening when you should dress to impress, take in the talents of the Jacksonville Symphony and salute the upcoming year with a champagne toast.
Fanfare! is just the beginning of an expanded season of magic. There will be twelve Florida Blue Masterworks performances featuring a wide variety of composers – thirty-two in all. Music Director Courtney Lewis will lead eight of the programs.
On the podium for the November 10th, 11th & 12th performances will be the symphony’s former music director, Fabio Mechetti, leading the orchestra in Fauré’s Requiem and Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique.
Associate Conductor Nathan Aspinall and pianist Behzod Abduraimov will present Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, considered to be one of the most fiendishly difficult in the repertoire, on February 23rd and 24th. This concert will also feature Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, his first great, clandestinely subversive anti-Soviet work.
An all-American program from the much-heralded American conductor Kazem Abdullah on May 18th, 19th and 20th will include Duke Ellington’s Three Black Kings, which has been termed a ballet for orchestra. Julian Schwarz on cello will perform Liebermann’s Cello Concerto, a piece that has been co-commissioned by the Jacksonville Symphony.
Masterworks ends on June 1 and 2 with a project that Courtney Lewis terms the biggest he has attempted in his time in Jacksonville, Twilight of the Gods. The performance will include a selection of large excerpts from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. This presentation will be played without pause and feature stars from Metropolitan Opera productions.
The Fidelity National Pops Series covers everything from Doo Wop to David Bowie. Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, the symphony will begin its pops presentation with The Mambo Kings on September 22nd, 23rd & 24th. Other highlights include the film Raiders of the Lost Ark with music performed by the orchestra on February 16th & 17th; the return of vocalist N’Kenge for the March 23rd & 24th Legends: Diana Ross, Billie Holiday, Beyoncé and more; and New York Pops Conductor Steven Reineke bringing the best of Rodgers and Hammerstein on May 4th and 5th.
Not to be missed are the holiday events – the Holiday Pops, with the area’s only guaranteed snowfall, Handel’s Messiah, the First Coast Nutcracker and New Year’s Eve. This year there will be new traditions added: film with orchestra performances of Home Alone on November 25th and It’s a Wonderful Life on December 22nd.
Specials bound to be extremely popular will be the film with orchestra performance of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at Daily’s Place on October 14th at 7:30 p.m., the first of four Daily’s Place concerts, and the Gala on January 20th with the incomparable Renée Fleming.
But there’s so much more to The Season of Magic – two Family concerts, two Civic Orchestra concerts, Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra performances, a special Sunday Matinée featuring the symphony brass, organ and percussion on October 29th, three Regency Centers Symphony in 60 concerts, Raymond James Coffee Series and five community concerts, including two Art Walk appearances.
Tickets for all Jacksonville Symphony performances, except the Daily’s Place appearances, are available at jaxsymphony.org or through the box office in the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts (telephone (904) 354-5547). Daily’s Place concert tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
Nothing creates magic like the sound of live music and the Jacksonville Symphony promises to bring that magic to its patrons every time it performs this season.