DSO set to celebrate 100th anniversary of its historic home Orchestra Hall, beginning with reprise of the first program from 1919

DSO commissions new music from American composers Mohammed Fairouz, James Lee III, Nkeiru Okoye, and Julia Wolfe to be premiered during season

Music Director Laureate Leonard Slatkin returns to conduct four programs on the Classical Series and Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik conducts three programs on the PNC Pops Series

Detroit – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) announces the 2019-2020 season of its Classical Series and PNC Pops Series, as well as initial plans for a season-long centennial celebration of its historic home Orchestra Hall—one of the world’s premier concert halls—which first opened its doors on October 23, 1919.

To kick off the Orchestra Hall centennial, the opening weekend of the 2019-2020 Classical Series (Oct 4-6) will replicate the first program ever presented on its stage: Weber’s Overture to Oberon, Mozart’s E-flat Concerto for Two Pianos, Bach’s Concerto No. 2 for Three Pianos, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Michael Francis conducts and pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton and Keun-A Lee are the guest soloists on a program the Detroit Free Press called a “striking opening event of a colossal nature” in its 1919 review.

Throughout the centennial season, many DSO programs will feature other works performed during Orchestra Hall’s first season in 1919-1920, including Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony, and Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto.

“The DSO is excited to invite our broad and diverse communities to celebrate Detroit’s legendary Orchestra Hall next season, with its warmth, beauty, intimacy, and above all outstanding acoustics,” said DSO President and CEO Anne Parsons. “Through publications, exhibits, special programs, and the digital space, we’ll share stories of the artists, organizations, and patrons who have called Orchestra Hall their own for the past one hundred years, as well as reveal new and innovative ways this spectacular space will continue to serve and engage new audiences for decades to come.”

The centennial celebration will also pay tribute to Orchestra Hall’s ten-year history as the Paradise Theatre (1941–1951), a top Midwest tour destination for the finest jazz, bebop, and blues artists. The Duke Ellington Orchestra will perform in December 2019, as part of the DSO’s Paradise Jazz Series, which will celebrate its own 20th anniversary in 2019-2020. Duke Ellington headlined the first-ever concert at the Paradise Theatre, on Christmas Eve 1941. The full 20th anniversary Paradise Jazz Series will be announced in the coming weeks.

For the new season, the DSO has also commissioned new music by the American composers Mohammed Fairouz, James Lee III, Nkeiru Okoye, and Julia Wolfe. The works by Fairouz, Lee, and Okoye will each have their world premieres in Detroit by the DSO, while the piece by Wolfe is a co-commission and will receive its local premiere. Additionally, the DSO has commissioned a new brass fanfare from composers and spouses Kristin Kuster and William Lucas (a member of the DSO trumpet section) to mark the occasion of the Orchestra Hall centennial. The 2019-2020 Classical Series features other contemporary works by DSO cellist Jeremy Crosmer, Sebastian Fagerlund, Gabriel Kahane, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Outi Tarkiainen, and Alex Temple.

“Orchestra Hall’s centennial gives us a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the DSO’s vibrant history while also remaining committed to our vision of all an orchestra can be in the 21st century,” said DSO Vice President and General Manager Erik Rönmark. “Past and present will often meet in striking ways, with contemporary music allowing for fresh understanding of classic works, and standard repertoire providing additional context for new music.”

DSO Music Director Laureate Leonard Slatkin will return to Detroit to conduct the DSO on four programs, including two back-to-back weeks in May 2020. Highlights of Slatkin’s programs include concerts with violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Garrick Ohlsson and a performance of Orff’s powerful choral work Carmina Burana. In celebration of Slatkin’s 75th birthday later this year, the DSO and other orchestras with strong connections to the conductor have commissioned new variations on Paganini’s famous theme (Caprice No. 24) by five composers, which will performed along with an earlier set of variations from 1996.

“In the 2019-2020 Season, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will continue to explore new paths while honoring the traditions of the symphonic repertoire,” said Slatkin. “With the welcome return of soloists Joshua Bell and Garrick Ohlsson, as well as the introduction of new artists, Orchestra Hall will be alive with music and invention. I look forward to sharing this special year and celebrating my 75th birthday with both the orchestra and audience.”

Guest conductors scheduled to appear with the DSO next season include Jader Bignamini (on two programs), who memorably stepped in to lead the season-closing performances of Puccini’s Turandot last June, as well as Lionel Bringuier, Fabien Gabel, James Gaffigan, Eric Jacobsen, Hannu Lintu, Juanjo Mena, Ruth Reinhardt, Dalia Stasevska, Thomas Søndergård, Markus Stenz, John Storgårds, and Juraj Valčua.

Former DSO Resident Conductor Thomas Wilkins returns to Detroit to lead the orchestra’s 42nd annual Classical Roots concerts, celebrating African-American contributions to classical music, next year featuring the world premiere of Nkeiru Okoye’s Black Bottom and a performance of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto by André Watts.

The DSO will mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020 with a trio of major works on the second half of the season: Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral” conducted by John Storgårds, the “Emperor” Concerto with Watts and Wilkins, and a season-closing performance of the Violin Concerto with violinist Vadim Gluzman and conductor Hannu Lintu.

Other top soloists appearing next season include mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who makes her DSO debut performing Ravel’s Shéhérazade and Alex Temple’s Liebeslied; cellist Alisa Weilerstein (Barber’s Cello Concerto); violinists James Ehnes, Karen Gomyo, Augustin Hadelich, and Julian Rachlin; and pianists Bertrand Chamayou, Alexandra Dariescu, and Simon Trpčeski, among others. DSO Concertmaster Yoonshin Song (Katherine Tuck Chair) will be featured as soloist in Bruch’s Violin Concerto in G minor on the second program of the season.

The DSO also announced its 2019-2020 PNC Pops Series, which will bring favorites from Broadway, film and TV, rock, jazz, and more to the Orchestra Hall stage. DSO Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik will lead three programs: Queens of Soul, featuring a tribute to Aretha Franklin, plus music by Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, and other soul and R&B divas; Legends: The Paul Simon Songbook; and Prohibition, a celebration of the 1920s inspired by the cabarets and speakeasies of New York, Paris, and Atlantic City. Other PNC Pops Series highlights include an evening with Broadway and television star Jason Alexander, a performance blending music and live magic with Masters of Illusion star Michael Grandinetti, and the ever-popular Home for the Holidays program. The DSO Presents program of Home Alone in Concert, a holiday favorite that sells out year after year, also will return.

The DSO’s Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series will return for the ninth full season, offering free, live HD broadcasts of every Classical Series program at dso.org/live and via Facebook Live.


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