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Grant Llewellyn and the North Carolina Symphony Announce 2011/12 Season

Posted: March 21, 2011
The North Carolina Symphony’s 2011/12 season promises the same masterful programming and compelling guest artists that concertgoers have come to expect of the state’s premier performing arts organization. Music Director Grant Llewellyn begins his seventh NCS season with a powerful ensemble of musicians who approach the repertoire with power, passion and panache and whose affinity for great music brings out the colors, textures and moods of a copious range of works.

“As always,” says Llewellyn, “the fourteen weeks of the Classical subscription series are conceived with opening, closing and middle structures, providing an arc to the season from September to May. We have devised, we hope, a concert series which celebrates our art form and its future. The focus is, as always, the orchestra. Our players continue to meet the highest standards of their profession and have proved their quality in concerts, broadcasts and recordings to increasing national and international recognition.”

The Duke Medicine Raleigh Classical Series opens with performances on September 8 &10, 2011, with three commanding and emotive works chosen to remember the dead and honor the heroes of 9/11 on the tenth anniversary of that tragedy. Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, which begins the performance, has special resonance for Llewellyn, who was performing the work with the Handel & Haydn Society in Boston when the attack occurred. This Thread, by J. Mark Scearce, is the composer’s personal response to 9/11. Based on a text by Toni Morrison, the piece is considered his most moving. The final work, Mozart’s Requiem, was part of a world-wide commemoration of 9/11 performed around the world by orchestras, including the North Carolina Symphony, on the event’s first anniversary in 2002.

Other highlights from the season’s repertoire include some of the most artistically muscular works of the orchestral canon including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8; Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5; Mahler’s Symphony No. 4; Haydn’s Symphony No. 82, “La Poule;” Bizet’s Symphony in C; Brahms Symphony No. 1; Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 1 and Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra (better known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey). Audiences will hear piano concertos by Poulenc, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Mozart as well as concertos for cello and violin, and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. North Carolina Symphony musicians Brian Reagin, concertmaster and Dovid Friedlander, associate concertmaster, will be featured soloists this season.

Guest artists making their debut on the Duke Medicine Classical Series include violinist Augustin Hadelich, cellist Johannes Moser, cimbalom player Petra Berenyi. and sisters Christina and Michelle Naughton, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos. Returning to the North Carolina Symphony will be pianists Pascal Rogé, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Louis Lortie, and Stephen Hough, as well as harpist Catrin Finch and cimbalom player Petra Berenyi. Vocalists include Dominique Labelle, Krista River, Rick Clement, Christopheren Nomura, Christina Pier, Barbara Shirvis, Heather Buck and Jason McKinney. The North Carolina Master Chorale will also make several appearances over the course of the season.

Exciting young guest conductors Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Joana Caneiro and Andrew Grams will lead the orchestra in October, February and March. Harth-Bedoya, Music Director of the Fort Worth Symphony, has conducted all of the major US orchestras and most of the European ones. Peruvian by birth and educated here, he is both acclaimed and sought-after. Also attracting attention in the music world, Portuguese-born Joana Caneiro is Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony and a rising star to watch, as is Andrew Grams, former assistant conductor the Cleveland Orchestra.

Out of the fourteen Classical Series concerts, Llewellyn has identified three compelling smaller series. “These are colorful sub-plots, if you will, that we hope will capture people’s imaginations,” he says. “Piano Icons, Universal Voices and Passports are distinct and meaningful themes within the whole.”

The Piano Icons series emerged from a desire to highlight composer-pianists such as Liszt and Rachmaninoff juxtaposed with major world class pianists. Pascal Rogé, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Louis Lortie, and Stephen Hough bring their prodigious skills to great piano works by Poulenc, Beethoven, Liszt and Rachmaninoff.

Universal Voices focuses on some of the great works that celebrate the expressive power of the human voice. Four vibrant evenings will offer some of the most beautiful and profound music to hear live in a concert hall including Mozart’s Requiem, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, Strauss’s Four Last Songs and Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Finally, the Passport series takes a close look at the cultures of three distinct and individual countries, Spain, Hungary and Wales, and features the national instrument of each. The inspiration for these musical explorations came from an audience member attending a post-concert talk. “For some reason,” Llewellyn remembers, “Welsh music came up. Someone said ‘Why can’t we have an entire evening of Welsh music?’ I was touched that this would be suggested and as I’ve thought about it, the idea of developing a quintessentially Welsh program of substance really appeals. We have a great cross section of Welsh composers, including two of the exciting young generation. Karl Jenkins is going to be the most performed composer of the 21st century, if you ask me.”

The Pops Series will open September 23-24 with Bernstein on Broadway, a colorful tour of Leonard Bernstein’s most popular musicals, led by his daughter, Jamie Bernstein. Along with this showcase of glorious theater music, you’ll hear personal anecdotes and family stories to take you behind the scores of one of America’s greatest popular composers. The series will also feature The Music of Billy Joel with Michael Cavanaugh, star of the Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel smash-hit musical Movin’ Out and Simply Sinatra, featuring Frank Sinatra’s greatest modern interpreter, Steve Lippia, in a unique evening that pays homage to the voice of a generation. Back by popular demand is five-time Grammy Award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Art Garfunkel for a night of the best from his fifty-year career behind the mic. Later in the season, we’ll hop off the train in River City for a semi-staged romp of The Music Man, featuring your favorite selections from Meredith Wilson’s treasured Broadway score. The annual Holiday Pops concert in Raleigh makes the season merry with North Carolina’s own singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett, mandolin virtuoso Mike Compton, banjo and guitar wizard Joe Newberry, Grammy-winning vocalist Rhiannon Giddens, and the Concert Singers of Cary in our own home-grown A Carolina Christmas.

NCS Matinees presents Friday Favorites, the Symphony’s popular weekday series, again includes three 75-minute daytime concerts with North Carolina Symphony conductors offering insight from the stage into the music they love. Associate Conductor Sarah Hicks’s November Friday Favorites concert takes us straight into the intersection of neighboring cultures with a fresh look at how Spanish flavors inspired French music, and vice versa. Her program ¡Espana! includes music from Chabrier, Massenet, Falla, Sarastate, and Bizet’s spicy Spanish-flavored opera Carmen. In February, Music Director Grant Llewellyn guides us through one of the most beloved symphonies of all time, Czech composer Dvorák’s masterpiece New World Symphony. In the Series’ final May concert, we shout Viva Italia to Resident Conductor William Henry Curry’s invitation to visit Italy through captivating music by Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Wolf, Strauss, Jr., and Tchaikovsky.

Series in Chapel Hill, Southern Pines, Fayetteville, New Bern and Wilmington offer performances that include the same great programs and artists that make up the Duke Medicine Classical Series and Friday Favorites Series, as well as some programs and guest artists heard only in those communities.

“Performing in communities around the state continues to be one of the North Carolina Symphony’s most central missions,” says Llewellyn. “I am delighted that our relationship with these communities continues to grow. Meeting our audiences around the state is one of the things we most look forward each season.”

The Rex Healthcare Summerfest Series, the Symphony’s popular open-air concerts under the pines at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre, gets underway on May 28, 2011 for Play with the Pros, featuring local instrumentalists of all ages. As always, picnic baskets, blankets and lawn chairs are welcome and children 12 and under are free as we kick off the season with Shostakovich’s Festive Overture and Dvorák’s beautiful Eighth Symphony. The summer celebration continues on June 4 with lead singer of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops Rhiannon Giddens in Around the World in Eighty Minutes. Music Director Grant Llewellyn offers a program of musical gems from the U.K., Germany, Italy, Russia, the Far East and the United States. On June 11, Resident Conductor William Henry Curry leads the orchestra in one of the most delightful Rex Healthcare Summerfest Series classical programs ever: Respighi’s Pines of Rome, Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s fast-buzzing Flight of the Bumblebee. On June 18, guest conductor Martin Herman brings us Live and Let Die: The Music of Paul McCartney. Featuring uncanny McCartney look and sound-alike Tony Kishman, audiences will love this unforgettable evening of great Beatles favorites like “Band on the Run,” “Maybe I’m Amazed” and much more. Swan Lake at Symphony Lake will dazzle concertgoers on June 25. We’ll hear Tchaikovsky’s iconic Piano Concerto, performed for the first time in Koka Booth Amphitheatre by prodigiously talented Conrad Tao, who is lighting up the classical music world at just sixteen years of age. Selections from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, it is hoped, will please both the audience and actual swans on Symphony Lake, located next to the Amphitheatre. July 9’s Pirates! will find us saluting those colorful sea-going scalawags of yore with music from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, The Flying Dutchman, The Pirates of Penzance, Lauralyn Dossett’s Bloody Blackbeard and more. Conductor William Henry Curry encourages pirate dress. We’ll finish up the Rex Healthcare Summerfest season on July 16 with Curry’s guests, the extraordinary trio Time for Three. Violinists Zachary De Pue and Nicholas Kendall and bassist Ranaan Meyer absolutely wowed our audience with their blazing skills on New Year’s Eve 2008. Don’t miss this self-described “classically trained garage band” in a great program of jazz, blues, and bluegrass-infused music. As always, we’ll be at Regency Park and on July 4 for all the excitement and fireworks of the Triangle’s best Independence Day celebration. This season, we’ll also enjoy fireworks at concerts on May 28, June 4, July 9, and July 16.

NCS Kids Presents Young People’s Concerts that will thrill families and children ages 4-12. The perfect introduction to the art form, these hour-long adventures into the magic of symphonic music will entertain and excite your young maestros. The series opens on November 19 with Beethoven Lives Upstairs, hailed by Billboard magazine as “one of the most completely wondrous examples of children’s entertainment ever!” With excerpts from the composer’s greatest works and an intriguing storyline, this performance is a great introduction to great music. On January 7, composer and host Robert Kapilow puts a Mozart-inspired spin on Dr. Seuss’s best-loved story of Sam-I-Am in Green Eggs and Ham. Finally, on March 10, the orchestra will get buzzy in Bug Songs as they imitate the sounds of bees, beetles, crickets, katydids and more, featuring everyone’s favorite Flight of the Bumblebee.

Special Events for the 2011/12 season include An Evening with Yuja Wang on May 15, 2012. Though just 23 years old, pianist Yuja Wang has made a tremendous impression on the classical music world. The Triangle noticed too, and deafening ovations capped her North Carolina Symphony debut in February 2010, as well as demands for her immediate return. On December 31, New Year’s Eve in Vienna will find us welcoming 2012 with Grant Llewellyn and his guest soprano Sari Gruber as we pay tribute to one of world’s oldest music traditions—a Viennese banquet of gorgeous music.

Information about subscription options, dates, times and ticket prices is available on the Symphony’s website at, through the season brochure, by calling Audience Services at 919.733.2750, 10am-5pm, Monday through Friday or by visiting our box office located at 3700 Glenwood Avenue, suite 130, in Raleigh.


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