Edmonton Symphony Orchestra announces 2022/2023 season


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The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO) simultaneously announced its 2022/2023 season and the appointment of an artistic advisor, American conductor Michael Stern.

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Stern has served as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony since 2005, a position he is stepping down at the end of the 2023 season. He has conducted major guest orchestras throughout North America and around the world and has recorded extensively, including contemporary American music with the IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee.

He does not, however, replace conductor Alex Prior, who ends his tenure with a pair of concerts at the Winspear on June 17 and 18.

Instead, ESO CEO Annemarie Petrov and Stern see her role as a “reboot” of the orchestra after the pandemic shutdowns.

Like many great organizations, the ESO has been hit hard financially and, says Stern, needs to reconnect and rebuild.
“I think the role of the artistic advisor is to reawaken the orchestra’s connection with the community, which I think is essential.”

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He will also participate in the search for Prior’s successor, conduct four concerts himself and will be part of the team organizing the upcoming season, which necessarily had to be put in place in a short time as the COVID-19 situation became clearer.

A very welcome return is the traditional season opener, Symphony Under the Sky, still at Hawrelak Park before it closed for renovations. The ever-popular Robert Bernhardt conducts two concerts, one of Hollywood hits and the other of Festival classics (September 3 and 4).

A notable feature of the new season is that the number of different series and packages that ESO offered in the past has been reduced to essentially two: the classic series and the pop series, with a few specials, like the traditional Messiah concert. . (9-11 December), children’s concerts and the Christmas concert (21-23 December).

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The season opens with a concert that will be a must for lovers of baroque music. The conductor is the very distinguished specialist in early music Nicholas McGegan, with soloists from the ESO even in works by Handel, Bach, Vivaldi and Rameau (October 13 and 14).

Stern himself conducts (November 4-6) an engaging program that includes Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Stravinsky’s Firebird and a new orchestral version of Carmen Braden’s The Raven Conspiracy, which was heard here recently in its version for string quartet. Grieg’s soloist is award-winning Israeli pianist Roman Rabinovich.

The masterful Double Concerto for two string orchestras, piano and timpani by Bohuslav Martinů makes a welcome appearance (November 17-19), under the direction of Portuguese conductor Dinis Sousa.

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The new year sees Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony paired with Brahms’ Piano Concerto 1 and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture, with the young conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Yaniv Dinur, on the podium, and Canadian pianist Katherine Chi, originally from Calgary, as soloist (January 19 and 21). The seductive Hymn-2001 for strings by Valentine Silvestrov replaces the Tchaikovsky in an abridged version of the January 20 concert.

Stern returns (February 10 to 12) with a program based on the theme of spring: Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 “Spring”. ESO concertmaster Robert Uchida will be particularly interesting in Prokofiev’s Lyric Violin Concerto No. 1.

There’s an all-English concert on February 23 and 25, featuring Elgar’s Enigma Variations and the rare chance to hear Walton’s Viola Concerto, with ESO’s Keith Hamm as soloist and l experienced American Brett Mitchell at the helm.

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Highlights of the concert by conductor Cosette Justo Valdés (March 3-5) are Aquamarine for organ and orchestra by Edmonton composer Jeffrey McCune and Saint-Saëns’ Organ Concerto. The organ soloist has not yet been announced.

ESO Principal Cellist Rafael Hoekman performs Shostakovich’s powerful Cello Concerto No. 1, alongside Dvořák’s Symphony 8, conducted by Kensho Watanabe (16 and 18 March), while a visitor popular in Edmonton, Canadian pianist Sara Davis Buechner, plays the much-loved Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, conducted by Jean-Marie Zeitouni (April 28 and 29).

A major event will undoubtedly be Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, conducted by Stern (May 4 and 6), alongside contemporary works by American composer Jessie Montgomery and Canadian Vivian Fuchs.

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The classics season ends with a concert aptly titled Romantic Favorites, with young American violinist Timothy Choi as soloist Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, conducted by Korean-Canadian Earl Lee, now assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

ESO has also planned three concerts of new music, in November, April and May, but these have yet to be finalized.

Pop series highlights include The Best of the Beatles (October 27 and 29), New Orleans Jazz Favorites (February 2 and 4), featuring popular pianist/singer Michael Kaeshammer, and a concert Hot Latin (April 21-22). Popular Canadian folk group The McDades are sure to draw crowds to a concert called Celtic Adventures (November 25-26).

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Two specials promise interesting evenings. Michael Stern is leading what is being billed as an ESO showcase on March 10-11, though details have yet to be announced. Music Director Emeritus William Eddins returns to conduct alongside Edmontonian Michael Massey, as the Edmonton Youth Orchestra joins the ESO for a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and a work by Massey himself (April 15-16).

Finally, parents of musical children will be delighted to see the special Beethoven Lives Upstairs (February 18 and 19) among the children’s concerts.

Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

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