Hartford Symphony Orchestra announces 2017-2018 Masterworks Series

Hartford Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Steve Collins and HSO Music Director Carolyn Kuan are pleased to announce HSO’s 2017-2018 Masterworks Series, which will be presented at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, CT. Concerts will take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm in the Belding Theater at The Bushnell.

“Music is a living thing, limitless in its evocative power. Attending a concert performed by the exceptional musicians of the HSO is a unique experience each and every time – one that invigorates, enchants, inspires,” said Collins. “Next season, we will bring music to life through masterworks by Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy, Orff, Shostakovich, Gershwin, Copland, and so many more – as well as through performances by a diverse array of gifted guest artists.”

Ticket Information: Current Masterworks subscribers will receive their renewal information in March. New subscriptions will be available in June. Single tickets will go on sale in August. For information on subscriptions, please call 860-987-5900.  More information about subscribing is available at www.hartfordsymphony.org.

All artists, dates, and locations are subject to change.


Beethoven’s Eroica
Season Opener!
October 6-8, 2017
Beethoven  Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
Kanno Revive, Concerto for Koto and Shakuhachi
Beethoven Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, “Eroica”
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Masayo Ishigure koto
Shakuhachi soloist to be announced

The HSO kicks off the 2017-2018 season with a captivating program featuring one of Beethoven’s most celebrated works!  Beethoven’s “Eroica” is a journey of emotional extremes.  This heroic and mighty symphony was originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, but when Napoleon declared himself an emperor, the composer was so enraged he changed the dedication. Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont was written as a set of incidental music pieces for the 1787 play of the same name by Goethe, who declared that Beethoven had expressed his intentions with “a remarkable genius.” And Yugo Kanno’s Revive spotlights two Japanese instruments unique to an orchestral concert – the shakuhachi, an end-blown flute, and the koto, a traditional stringed instrument.

Mozart & La Mer
November 10-12, 2017
Berlioz Le corsaire, Op. 21
Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219, “Turkish”
Debussy La Mer
Surprise Encore Selection To Be Announced
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Leonid Sigal HSO concertmaster

Claude Debussy’s sparkling La Mer is a masterpiece of suggestion and subtlety in its rich depiction of the sea. This sensual three-movement impression of the ocean is one of Debussy’s most revered works. Berlioz’s Le corsaire was also inspired by the sea, written when the composer was on holiday in Nice, France, in 1844. The result of this retreat is a piece of music that is dizzying and serene, playful and brassy. Mozart’s enchanting Violin Concerto No. 5 was composed after several trips to Italy with his father, where he became enamored with the violin. This concerto, nicknamed “The Turkish,” was one of five Mozart composed for violin and orchestra over the span of five months in 1775. Sponsored by Cly-Del Manufacturing Co.

December Dreams
December 8-10, 2017
Santa Claus (Christmas Symphony)
Higdon Oboe Concerto
Tchaikovsky Selections from The Nutcracker Op. 71, TH 14
Adam Boyles conductor
Heather Taylor HSO principal oboe

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! This December, the HSO presents a program of music sure to put you in a festive mood. Tchaikovsky’s selections from The Nutcracker bring to musical life everyone’s favorite holiday tale – young Clara’s dreams of a Nutcracker Prince. William Henry Fry’s Santa Claus (Christmas Symphony) is both a secular and religious celebration of the holiday, complete with a weary traveler, a holiday party and a visit by Father Christmas as the children sleep. Plus, American composer Jennifer Higdon’s Oboe Concerto makes its HSO premiere, putting the spotlight on the beauty and grace of the instrument with a playful and shimmering piece.  ‘Tis the season!

A Scottish Fantasy

January 19-21, 2018
Maxwell Davies An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise, Op. 120a
Bruch Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46
Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56, “Scottish”
Conductor to be announced
Gareth Johnson, violin
Mike MacNintch highland bagpipes

We are breaking out the bagpipes for 2018 with a concert of music inspired by the vibrant country of Scotland! Maxwell Davies’ An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise is a vivid depiction of a joyous wedding celebration, gloriously concluding with a bagpiper performing in full Scottish regalia. Bruch’s four-movement Scottish Fantasy, pays homage to Scottish folk melodies including “Auld Rob Morris,” “The Dusty Miller,” “I’m a’Doon for Lack o’ Johnnie,” and the patriotic anthem “Scots Wha Hae.” Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, “Scottish,” is the result of the composer’s preoccupation with Scottish history, and his visit to the ruins of Holyrood Chapel in Edinburgh while on Grand Tour in 1829, calling to mind the wild romantic landscapes of the north, at the same time stormy and jubilant.

The Keys to Romance
February 16-18, 2018

Mascagni “Intermezzo” from Cavalleria rusticana
Haydn Symphony No. 104 in D Major, “London”
Sarasate Fantasy on Bizet’s Carmen, Op. 25
Poulenc “Allegro ma non troppo” from Concerto for Two Pianos in D minor
Anderson & Roe duets to be announced
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Anderson & Roe Piano Duo piano
It’s a night of epic love for our annual Valentine’s weekend program, featuring the dynamic Anderson & Roe Piano Duo! Mascagni’s one-act opera Cavalleria rusticana tells the doomed tale of a love affair that ends with a duel to the death. Its lush, dramatic “Intermezzo” is considered one of the single most attractive tunes in operatic history. Haydn’s invigorating Symphony No. 104 in D Major, “London,” was written in tribute to the city he had come to adore (and that adored him right back!).  Sarasate’s raw, virtuosic Fantasy on Bizet’s Carmen pays tribute to Bizet’s beloved opera, the tragic love story of soldier Don Jose and the fiery gypsy Carmen. Poulenc’s “Allegro ma non troppo” from Concerto for Two Pianos in D minor is effervescent and sentimental. Plus, Anderson & Roe will delight with lush piano duos! The Alexander Campbell McNally and Tina Mahar McNally Memorial Concert.

Stravinsky & Swan Lake
March 9-11, 2018
Stravinsky Game of Cards (Jeu de Cartes)
Stravinsky Symphony in Three Movements
Tchaikovsky Suite from Swan Lake, Op. 20a
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Ballet dancers to be announced
Stravinsky’s turbulent Symphony in Three Movements was written as a direct response to the events of WWII. He wrote the symphony in the final days of the war, influenced, as he wrote, by “our arduous time of sharp and shifting events, of despair and hope, of continual torments, of tension and, at last, cessation and relief…” Stravinsky’s engaging Game of Cards (Jeu de Cartes) ballet is said to have been motivated by his fondness for poker, with the main character being the cunning Joker. Tchaikovsky revolutionized the art of composing for dance, and his Swan Lake is recognized as one of the most popular ballets in the world, inspired by Russian folk tales and one of the composer’s most beautiful works.

Copland & Gershwin
April 6-8, 2018
Copland An Outdoor Overture
Gershwin Piano Concerto in F
Theofanidis Rainbow Body
Suite from Billy the Kid
Laura Jackson conductor
Alessio Bax piano appears by arrangement with Arts Management Group

It’s a spring celebration of two favorite American composers! Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F solidified his reputation as a “serious” composer who straddled the line of popular and traditional music. He said that hearing an orchestra perform this concerto, which is flavored with blues, barrelhouse and ragtime, was his greatest musical thrill.  Dramatically evocative of the American West and prairie life, Copland’s Billy the Kid follows the life of the infamous outlaw, and presents Billy as a romanticized symbol of the passions and dangers of the Wild West. And Copland’s spirited An Outdoor Overture is an optimistic, rousing tribute to Americana. Plus, Theofanidis’ colorful Rainbow Body takes inspiration from 12th century composer Hildegard of Bingen, as well as the Tibetan Buddist idea of “rainbow body” – where the body of an enlightened being is absorbed back into the universe after death.

Shostakovich 5
May 4-6, 2018
Tahiti Trot, Op. 16, “Tea for Two”
Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 107
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Jay Campbell cello

If they cut off both hands, I will compose music anyway holding the pen in my teeth,” said Shostakovich in 1936. When composing his Symphony No. 5 during the “Great Terror” in Russia, he was under great political pressure to simplify his music and adapt it to reflect socialist realism. While authorities heard everything they had demanded of Shostakovich in the gripping piece, the public heard it as a testament to its sorrow and suffering.  His delightful Tahiti Trot was written in response to a challenge from fellow conductor Nikolai Malka, who bet Shostakovich he could not re-orchestrate the song from memory in under an hour (spoiler alert: he did). His popular Cello Concerto No. 1 is regarded as his finest concerto, and one of the most difficult to perform of its kind.  The Koski Memorial Concert. Sponsored by The Saunders Fund for Innovative Programming.

Carmina Burana: Festival of Fate
June 8-10, 2018
Barber Knoxville: Summer of 1915
Orff Carmina Burana
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Hartford Chorale Richard Coffey, Music Director
Vocal soloists to be announced

Become part of the spectacle of excess when the HSO, with the Hartford Chorale, presents this dramatic interpretation of Orff’s Carmina Burana. Experience the revelry and drama as we take over the theater with a celebration of the pleasures of drink, nature, love, lust, wealth, gluttony and gambling. But beware – the wheel of fortune deals out triumph and disaster at random, so heed its warning about the power of luck and fate! The concert opens with Barber’s lush and textured Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a tender depiction of Knoxville, Tennessee, set to excerpts from James Agee’s 1938 nostalgic prose poem by the same name.

The Masterworks Series Sponsor is The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation.

HSO programs are funded part by the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and with support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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©2018 Hartford Symphony Orchestra
The Bushnell: 166 Capitol Ave. Hartford, CT 06106