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Philadelphia Orchestra 2018-19 schedule: Salonen, Stokowski, Bugs Bunny

Peter Dobrin, Classical Music Critic

Updated: Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 6:37 AM

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Orchestra will spread its regular 2018-19 season over a slightly longer stretch of the calendar than usual. The $10 rush tickets will continue, as will the orchestra’s social-mission work. Great conductors like Simon Rattle, Vladimir Jurowski, and Fabio Luisi are not on the roster of guests, but Esa-Pekka Salonen and Myung-Whun Chung are.

Composer Mason Bates Todd Rosenberg
Mezzo Joyce DiDonato Simon Pauly
Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor (Photo: Patrick Allen/Opera Omnia
Brian Sanders, founder of the dance company JUNK, in rehearsal, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, in Philadelphia. Jessica Griffin/staff
PDNCURTIS.Curtis Symphony Orchestra 2.Soloist and principal oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra Richard Woodhams and conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.Photo credit: David DeBalko David DeBalko
Photo Gallery: Philadelphia Orchestra 2018-19 schedule: Salonen, Stokowski, Bugs Bunny

And Bugs Bunny will occupy Verizon Hall for three performances, the orchestra revealed Wednesday in its season announcement.

For its 119th season, the orchestra continues its recent tack of trying to be all things to all people — bringing newbies in the door, satisfying aficionados, catering to special-needs listeners with one sensory-friendly concert, and trying to thread together music with a message and surrounding it with extra programming.

A two-week project, for instance, aims to explore the relationship between Leopold Stokowski and Albert Barnes, though exactly what will come along with the music hasn’t been worked out.

Also still to be announced are details of a September three-city runout to the Midwest, where the orchestra — which once had a devoted fan base there — hasn’t been in more than a decade. Three concerts are slated for Carnegie Hall, all led by the orchestra’s music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The Canadian conductor’s dual existence, as established chief in Philadelphia and incoming music director of the Metropolitan Opera, begins to manifest itself in some crossover ideas between the two institutions. A new opera by Nico Muhly, Marnie, to be done at the Met, will be synthesized in an orchestral suite commissioned by the orchestra to be performed here.

An orchestra spokeswoman said a price hike for subscriptions will go into effect ranging from less than 1 percent up to 3 percent, with the exact amount dependent on the package and the section of the house. Single-ticket prices have not yet been set, she said. Subscriptions go on sale Wednesday: 215-893-1955, www.philorch.org.

Here are some highlights:

For its Opening Night Concert and Gala, Sept. 13, the orchestra hosts pianist André Watts in repertoire not yet announced.

Kensho Watanabe, whose contract as assistant conductor has been renewed through the end of 2018-19, leads the orchestra’s free college night Oct. 9 and the first family concert of the season Oct. 27.

A few younger conductors will come through during the season, the first of whom is German-born David Afkham, principal conductor of the Spanish National Orchestra and Chorus, who leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in Beethoven, Mozart, and Brahms Nov. 1-3. Later in the month, baroque conducting specialist Emmanuelle Haïm makes her orchestra debut in a program of Purcell and Handel.

Composer Mason Bates

Mezzo Joyce DiDonato makes her subscription concert debut Nov. 8-13 in Chausson in a program that also includes the orchestra’s first performance of Mason BatesAnthology of Fantastic Zoology.

Handel’s The Messiah returns Dec. 6-9, led by Nézet-Séguin.

The orchestra plays live to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the crew in three performances, Jan. 4-6, 2019, in a show called “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II.”

Mezzo Joyce DiDonato

The Academy of Music 162nd Anniversary Concert and Ball is slated for Jan. 26, 2019, with guest talent to be determined.

Esa-Pekka Salonen, the former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, leads a single program of Strauss and Bartók Feb. 14-16, 2019.

The season puts some of the orchestra’s own members into solo spots, with Ricardo Morales, the orchestra’s popular principal clarinetist, playing the Weber Clarinet Concerto No. 2 Feb. 21-23, 2019.

Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 is, relative to the others, a rarity, and Nathalie Stutzmann corrects the slight by leading the work Feb. 28-March 2, 2019. Also on the program: Benjamin Grosvenor, who made a strong impression here with a recent Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital, does concerto repertoire this time, in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

We’re hearing a lot more of the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ these days, thanks to special funding from philanthropist Frederick R. Haas, and among the most promising organ high points of the season is the first Philadelphia Orchestra performances of Nico Muhly’s Organ Concerto, co-commissioned by the orchestra, March 14 and 16, 2019.

Brian Sanders, founder of the dance company JUNK, in rehearsal, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, in Philadelphia.

Prokofiev’s music for Romeo and Juliet gets punctuated with a handful of dancers choreographed by Brian Sanders April 4-6, 2019.

Myung-Whun Chung has been a global presence, but the conductor hasn’t led the Philadelphia Orchestra since December 1996, just after the orchestra came back from a 64-day strike. In concerts April 25-27, 2019, he returns to lead Beethoven’s Eroica, plus the Schumann Piano Concerto with pianist Jonathan Biss.

With a sound both sweet and penetrating, violinist Nikolaj Znaider should be the perfect soloist to bring out the sense of longing in Elgar’s Violin Concerto May 2-4, 2019. Stéphane Denève conducts.

Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 offers Nézet-Séguin a chance to make a major statement May 9-12, 2019.

PDNCURTIS.Curtis Symphony Orchestra 2.Soloist and principal oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra Richard Woodhams and conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.Photo credit: David DeBalko

The penultimate program of the regular season, June 15 and 16, 2019, is Philadelphia through and through: Nézet-Séguin leads Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 1, plus Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante for winds and orchestra. The soloists are orchestra principal players, plus oboist Richard Woodhams, who plans to be retired from regular service by then.

To end, Nézet-Séguin conducts the orchestra’s first complete performances of Bernstein’s Candide, June 20-22, 2019, with modest staging.

Peter Dobrin, Classical Music Critic

Read full story: Philadelphia Orchestra 2018-19 schedule: Salonen, Stokowski, Bugs Bunny

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