Season Preview: A look at Amarillo Symphony's 2017-18 offerings
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Amarillo Symphony will focus largely on familiar names and big works in its 2017-18 season.
Ticket packages are on sale now for the season, which kicks off in September, with prices ranging from $129 to $345 each for Friday or Saturday night concerts. Single-ticket sales will begin later this summer.
Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Buchanan St.
"This entire season, we're doing some of the biggest, most recognizable symphonies," said Corey Cowart, the symphony's executive director. "Even if you don't know the name, you've heard the melody."
The season will open with music director and conductor Jacomo Bairos' exploration of the way jazz found its way into orchestral pieces with concerts featuring works by Paul Hindemith and George Gershwin. The Sept. 22 and 23 concerts will feature piano soloist Aaron Diehl on Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and his Second Rhapsody, as well as Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 1 and Symphonic Metamorphosis.
"Having Aaron Diehl is a very big deal, and I didn't mean that to be a pun," Cowart said. "He's going to be one of the names of the jazz world for years to come ... and we're kind of getting him first (for orchestral appearances)."
The season continues Oct. 20 and 21 with An American Celebration, a pops concert featuring John Phillips Sousa marches, salutes to the armed forces, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and more — "lots of really fun, patriotic Americana," Cowart said.
For the Nov. 17 and 18 concert, Bairos will pair contemporary American composer Kevin Puts' Symphony No. 2 with one of the giants of the classical canon, Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Eroica.
Puts' work was inspired directly by the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
"He ... was out of the country when it happened, so this is a reflection from abroad," Cowart said. "It's a very beautiful piece."
In December, the symphony again will offer its Happy Holiday Pops concerts at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, a light concert packed with Christmas favorites. The pops concert is not included in the season-ticket packages, but tickets are on sale now.
The regular season resumes in January with Mostly Mozart concerts on Jan. 19 and 20. In the spotlight are a pair of symphony musicians — Michelle Skinner, the principal Violin 2 player, and Yael Hyken, the principal viola player. They'll be featured on Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante, and the orchestra will close the concert with the composer's Symphony No. 40.
The concert also will feature Leopold Stokowski's famous arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue and Thomas Adès' Three Couperin Studies.
Romance will be in the air for the Feb. 23 and 24 concerts, featuring Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2.
The former will showcase piano soloist Natasha Paremski — "a Russian playing Russian rep," Cowart quipped — and the latter a "quintessential romantic melody."
The natural pairing of Benjamin Britten's Four Sea Interludes from his opera Peter Grimes and Claude Debussy's La Mer (French for "The Sea") will dominate the March 23 and 24 concerts. Also featured will be violinist Alexi Kenney on Jean Sibelius' Violin Concerto; "he's very young but a phenomenal player ... (and his) technique is flawless," Cowart said.
And finally, the April 27 and 28 concerts will end the season with a couple of major compositions: Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 and Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. The latter, performed in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Bernstein's birth, will feature Amarillo Master Chorale.
"I think we've put together a good mix of repertoire that our audience wants to hear interspersed with things we think are nourishing to hear and maybe pushes them a little bit," Cowart said.
For information, call 806-376-8782.