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Santa Rosa Symphony announces 2019-2020 season

by Diane Peterson, The Press Democrat, March 1, 2019

The Santa Rosa Symphony has announced its 2019-2020 season — the first season programmed and conducted by new Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong — with a lineup that ranges from well-known masterworks by Brahms and Beethoven to new works by living composers, including two world premieres.

“We’ve clearly laid down the road map for how to keep our art form alive and relevant,” Lecce-Chong said about the season. “We’ve done this by programming these less-familiar works in ways that connect them with masterworks from the past.”

Other highlights of the seven-concert series season include the December set, when Lecce-Chong will conduct a Haydn symphony from the harpsichord and the Sonoma State University Symphonic Chorus will join the symphony in Mozart’s Requiem in D minor.

As part of the launch of the First Symphony project, composer-in-residence Matt Browne will premiere his co-commissioned work during the February set.

The symphony in collaboration with Mariachi Champaña Nevin will give a world premiere of a work by Mexican composer Enrico Chapela Barba during the final concert set in May.

The 2019-2020 Santa Rosa Symphony Classical Concert Series runs from October through May at Weill Hall at Sonoma State’s Green Music Center and includes seven concert programs, each with three performances. (7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays and 7:30 p.m. Mondays.) The symphony also offers a Discovery Dress Rehearsal Series at 2 p.m. Saturdays that are reasonably priced working rehearsals. Lecce-Chong will conduct all the concerts, with the exception of the March set, which will be led by guest conductor Gemma New.

Here are the concert programs for the 2019-2020 season:

“Unmasking the Stars”: Opening concerts Oct. 5 to 7 feature Bay Area favorite Garrick Ohlsson performing Beethoven’s beloved Piano Concerto No. 4. Strauss’ epic tone poem, “Also sprach Zarasthustra,” part of the soundtrack for “2001: A Space Odyssey,” will be paired with “How the Solar System Was Won,” by First Symphony Project composer Matt Browne. The concert opens with “Masquerade,” by London-born composer Anna Clyne.

“Master of the Modern Banjo”: Banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck will perform his own “Juno” Concerto, an homage to Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” during the Nov. 2 to 4 concert set. Copland’s Four Dance Episodes from “Rodeo” and Mussorgsky’s dramatic “Pictures at an Exhibition” round out the program.

“Mozart’s Swan Song”: The Sonoma State University Symphonic Chorus and four vocal soloists will join the symphony Dec. 7 to 9 for Mozart’s searing Requiem in D minor. Lecce-Chong will conduct from the harpsichord for an authentically inspired Haydn’s Symphony No. 38. Jessie Montgomery’s jazz-folk “Records from a Vanishing City” completes the holiday, vocal concert set.

“Shadows and Sunshine”: Rising young violinist Simone Porter will perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor on Jan. 11 to 13. American composer Missy Mazzoli’s Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) and Brahms’ pastoral Symphony No. 2 bookend the concerts.

“Riveting Rachmaninoff”: The Feb. 8 to 10 concerts open with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No.3, followed by Rachmaninoff’s thorny Piano Concerto No. 3 performed by Natasha Paremski. After intermission, Composer-in-Residence Matt Browne will unveil the first premiere of the four-year First Symphony Project, jointly commissioned with the Eugene Symphony and a group of patrons.

“Showcasing Contemporary Women”: With “Down Under” guest conductor Gemma New on the podium March 21 to 23, the symphony will honor women artists with Katherine Balch’s “like a broken clock” and feature violin virtuoso Jennifer Frautschi and her “ex-Cadiz” Strad in Saint-Saens’ Violin Concerto No. 3. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastorale,” will end the concert on a bucolic note.

“Visions of Hope”: Thanks to a commission by the symphony, the season finale on May 2 to 4 will feature a world premiere of a work for mariachi, orchestra and four vocalists by Mexican composer Enrico Chapela Barba to be performed with Mariachi Champaña Nevin. Two popular tone poems by Respighi — “The Pines of Rome” and “The Fountains of Rome” — close the season with a sonic evocation of the City of Seven Hills.

Symphony subscriptions will be available beginning March 4 and can be purchased at the Symphony’s Patron Services Office at 50 Santa Rosa Ave. or by calling 707-546-8742.

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