News & Reviews

« All News & Reviews

Austin Symphony announces decisive season

April 2, 2018

Music Director Peter Bay moves away from months-long themes

As Austin Symphony reveals its new season, Music Director Peter Bay talks about a decisive change in direction. “We are just going to play the pieces we ought to play,” Bay said. “We got pigeon-holed into season-long themes. Now we will tie each individual concert together by a theme with variations.”

At times in past, Symphony seasons have seemed a bit tentative while trying to please key backers. Not this time out. Among the themed concerts in 2018-2019 season is an evening devoted to rarely performed works by women composers.

“They all would have had great careers,” Bay says of Clara Schumann, Lili Boulanger and Fanny Mendelsson,” if being a composer was considered a career for women back then.”

Also on that program is a piece by Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Higdon.

The Symphony will salute the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein, perhaps America’s greatest composer, with music from three of his Broadway shows as well as Divertimento for Orchestra.

It will also bring back nonagenarian pianist Leon Fleisher, who for a time lost the use of his right hand, and who served as a mentor for Bay as a conductor.

“I owe him a lot,” Bays says. “He helped get my career started.”

The 2017 Texas Young Composers winner by Paul Novak, “On Buoyancy,” will advance to the Masterworks series.

“This is a first,” Bay says. “It deserved to be on the subscription program.”

Given all the crises in the news, the Symphony will return to another somber Requiem, this one by Johannes Brahms. Also, protean Robert Faires will reprise part of his one-actor “Henry V” for a Shakespearean program.

A dozen or so of the Masterworks selections are new to the Symphony, which has been keeping records since 1911, although spottily during a couple of decades.

And now for the complete 2018-2019 season:

MASTERWORKS I: SEPT. 14-15, 2018
“The Mighty Russians Part III” Season Opener
Lise de la Salle, piano
Glazunov: Carnaval Overture, op. 45
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 1
Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony, Op. 58

MASTERWORKS II: OCT. 19-20, 2018
“Happy Birthday, Lenny!”
Bernstein/Harmon: Suite from Candide
Bernstein: Divertimento for Orchestra
Bernstein: Selections from On the Town
Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

“Tale of Two Titans”
Orli Shaham, piano
Paul Novak: On Buoyancy (2017 Texas Young Composers winner)
Schumann: Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83

MASTERWORKS IV: JAN. 11-12, 2019
“Variation Voyage”
Leon Fleisher, piano
Ives/Schuman: Variations on “America”
Dvořák: Symphonic Variations on the Theme “I am a fiddler” for orchestra, Op. 78
Franck: Symphonic Variations, FWV 46
Britten: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell, Op. 34

MASTERWORKS V: FEB. 22-23, 2019
“Brahms’ Requiem”
Conspirare Symphonic Choir
Heather Phillips, soprano
Paul Tipton, baritone
Brahms: Variations on the St. Antoni Chorale, Op. 56a
(Craig Hella Johnson, conductor for Variations)
Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45

“Creative Expressions” Celebrating Women Composers
Kendall, violin; Charles Yang, violin; Ranaan Meyer, double bass)
Michelle Schumann, piano
F. Mendelssohn: Overture in C Major
Boulanger: D’un matin de printemps
C.W. Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7
Kaprálová: Suita rustica, Op. 19
Higdon: Concerto 4-3

“Champions of Austria”
William Hagen, violin
Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 4
Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D minor

“A Shakespearean Evening”
Robert Faires, actor
Chorus Austin
Berlioz: Excerpts from Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17
Walton: Henry V: A Shakespeare Scenario


POPS I: OCT. 27, 2018; Dell Hall
“Wizard of Oz” – Film with Orchestra

POPS II: DEC. 29/30, 2018; Palmer Events Center
“Ella & Louis” with Byron Stripling and Carmen Bradford

POPS III: FEB. 9, 2019; Dell Hall
“Singin’ in the Rain” – Film with Orchestra

POPS IV: MAY 31/JUNE 1, 2019; Palmer Events Center
The Broadway Soprano with Lisa Vroman


OCT. 28, 2018; AISD Performing Arts Center
Halloween Children’s Concert

DEC. 4, 2018; Hyde Baptist Church
DEC. 5, 2018; Emmaus Catholic Church
Handel’s Messiah

TBD: Butler Texas Young Composers Concert

DEC. 2019; Austin area
Christmas in the Community

JUNEAUGUST 2019; Hartman Concert Park
Hartman Concerts in the Park

JULY 4, 2019; Vic Mathias Shores
H-E-B Austin Symphony July Fourth Concert and Fireworks