New! Thursdays start at 7:30 PM
This subscription package includes performances that feature chorus and therefore Conductor’s Circle seating is not available for one or more event. For your convenience we will seat you in Orchestra Tier, Tier 1, or the Orchestra at no additional price for these performances.
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Stéphane Denève begins his newly extended tenure as Principal Guest Conductor with Mahler’s premiere symphony matched with a Philadelphia Orchestra premiere. Mahler’s groundbreaking First Symphony “changed the genre forever” (The Guardian). From the shimmering opening to the joyful finale, this work shakes the soul. The six members of the Grammy-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird join the Orchestra for Jennifer Higdon’s On a Wire in its first-ever Philadelphia Orchestra performances. Higdon is hailed as one of American’s greatest living composers; Eighth Blackbird has been captivating audiences since its founding 20 years ago.
These concerts will be LiveNote enabled.
Frequent guest Donald Runnicles is an illustrious figure on opera podiums from San Francisco to New York to Berlin. This program highlights his mastery, from the fairy-tale charms of Hansel and Gretel to the powerful mythological romance of Tannhäuser. A renowned symphonic conductor as well, Maestro Runnicles will reveal all the charm and profundity of Mozart’s “Prague” Symphony. We open with Vaughan Williams’s 16th-century retrospective Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, featuring the uniquely lush Philadelphia strings.
An extraordinary opportunity to hear our music director not only as conductor, but also as chamber musician. Yannick will be at the keyboard for Elgar’s haunting Piano Quintet. “I’m an advocate and champion of that piece,” he says. A “best of” treasury of Handel’s sunny Water Music, written for an outdoor concert on the Thames, opens the second half of the program. Storm clouds gather over the North Sea as we conclude with Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from the most famous of English operas, set in the Suffolk fishing village that was also the composer’s home.
“There is no question that his whole heart is in what he’s doing,” says the Washington Post of Christoph Eschenbach, and that heart will be on full display when our former music director returns to lead the Philadelphians. Cello virtuoso Alisa Weilerstein (“truly a phenomenon”—The Telegraph) brings her incredible musicality to bear on Schumann’s Cello Concerto. Never performed during the composer’s lifetime, this intensely personal work now lives in the pantheon of cello compositions. From its indelible four-note opening to the rousing finale, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony never fails to enthrall. Der Freischütz (The Freeshooter) was a triumph for Carl Maria von Weber; the Overture alone makes clear why the work inspired composers from Wagner to Berlioz.
Grammy-winner and Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn returns to Verizon Hall with a 20th-century masterpiece: Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto, written as the Russian Revolution swirled in 1917. Maestro Denève offers another Philadelphia premiere from Guillaume Connesson, his Flammenschrift (Flaming Letters), a tribute to German music. Equally worthy of tribute: Richard Strauss’s spiritual Death and Transfiguration and Ravel’s whirling La Valse, described by the composer as “dancing on the edge of a volcano.”
Hélène Grimaud and Yannick Nézet-Séguin have performed together all over the world, becoming great musical friends. Their warmth and deep artistic connection will be on display as they bring this season to an electrifying conclusion with monumental works by Beethoven, Brahms, and Schumann. Grimaud (“astounding technique and daring musical insight”—San Diego Story) stars in landmark piano concertos (Beethoven’s Fourth, Brahms’s First – performed on Thursday, May 17) that have defined the piano repertory; her unique interpretations will have you listening to these favorite works with renewed joy. Schumann revised his Fourth Symphony late in his troubled life; his personal struggles did not prevent him from creating a masterpiece that has only grown in stature over time. And we end this season’s musical journey with Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.