The Long Beach Symphony turns 85 next year.
And Eckart Preu, for his third season as music director, once again announces intriguing programs, juxtaposing standard warhorses, pieces you may have heard of but not experienced, and a few outliers.
Opening night, on Sept. 28, features Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, as standard as they come. But before intermission are the Dvořák Violin Concerto, an unjustly neglected gem, and a piece by a 20th century master whose music, amazingly, the symphony has never performed: György Ligeti. His “Romanian Concerto” begins the season.
A concert titled “French Fantastique,” on Nov. 16 includes Debussy’s ubiquitous “Clair de lune” in André Caplet’s orchestration, and two works you probably don't know, the Intermezzo from Franz Schmidt’s “Notre Dame” and César Franck’s “Le chasseur maudit.” The big work is Camille Saint-Saëns’ mighty Symphony No. 3, which has a prominent organ part.
Preu conducts music of the Americas on Feb. 8, 2020, with music familiar (Copland's “El Salón México” and “Appalachian Spring”) and unfamiliar (the Cesar Chávez Symphony No. 2 and the harp concerto “Mascaras” by Arturo Marquez), the latter with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis.
Nothing but two heavyweights in March; the Beethoven Violin Concerto and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, subtitled “The Great” (because it is). The Beethoven features Stefan Jackiw as soloist.
There is a lot to unpack with the April concert. Our symphony is participating in Violins of Hope Los Angeles County, with 40 of our musicians playing restored instruments played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. Music by John Williams and Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim make up the first half; the second is Verdi’s humongous Requiem, with vocal soloists and the Camerata Singers collaborating.
And we end on May 30 with Liszt’s “Les Preludes,” not so frequently encountered nowadays, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, a monumental symphonic icon. In between, Claire Huangci plays the Piano Concerto in A minor by Clara Schumann, who has emerged from her husband Robert’s shadow as a notable composer in her own right.
Meanwhile, actress, singer, and violinist Lucia Micarelli opens the POPS!, with Preu conducting. A Holiday POPS!, a Mardi Gras concert, music by Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and an evening of symphonic rock complete the season.
So the Long Beach Symphony appears to be alive and well at 85, with Preu keeping things interesting. For details, go to www.longbeachsymphony.org.