Coming Events: Collaborations Kick Off Season


DATE BOOK – The 2019-20 season launches in September with new creative partnerships and milestone observances. Herman Melville’s 200th birthday was in August, and the party continues. Beethoven’s 250th isn’t until Dec. 16, 2020, but the ramp-up toward that celebration is already underway. Meanwhile a new crop of composer-performers is redefining what audiences will hear in recordings and onstage. Here’s a sampling of September events in North America and Europe.

Sept. 6: Chin’s ‘Frontispiece’ inaugurates Hamburg partnership

With her new Frontispiece, Unsuk Chin’s music will become the focus of concerts by Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie and music director Alan Gilbert during her season-long residency. The concert will be broadcast live in many countries by ARTE Concert and NDR Kultur via the EO app. Later comes Chin’s Le silence des sirènes on Nov. 29. Her vividly colored SPIRA – Concerto for orchestra, which made its impressive bow with the LA Philharmonic under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla in April 2019, gets its German premiere Feb. 14, 2020. Chin talks about her work here.

Event link: Elbphilharmonie opening night

Sept. 7: For Goodyear, Beethoven’s sonatas are all in a day’s work

Chamber Music Cincinnati begins its 90th anniversary season with Stewart Goodyear’s signature immersion experience – all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in one packed day, with recitals at 10 a.m., 3 p.m., and 8 p.m. The Canadian pianist and composer has done his “Sonatathon,” as he calls it, in Toronto, Dallas, and Princeton, and his well-received 2012 recording of the cycle is being re-released to coincide with the Cincinnati event. While a student of Leon Fleisher, Goodyear learned all 32 Beethoven sonatas at the exhilarating pace of one a week; he prefers not to be forced to choose.

Event links: Stewart Goodyear’s Beethoven Sonatathon; Marquis Classics CD.

Sept. 13 release: Koh’s Limitless expands work with composer-performers

Violinist Jennifer Koh’s newest Cedille CD Limitless puts her in wildly diverse partnerships with eight composers who are also performers. It’s a series of duos with Lisa Bielawa, Vijay Iyer, Missy Mazzoli, Qasim Naqvi, Tyshawn Sorey, Lu Wang, Nina Young, and Du Yun. Koh first performed with them in a pair of 2018 Limitless concerts at National Sawdust, and she continues to collaborate: The world premiere of Bielawa’s Sanctuary for violin and orchestra with the Orlando Philharmonic comes up on Jan. 15, 2020, and Koh performs with Sorey and Iyer in San Francisco on Jan. 24.

Sept. 7-22: Billy Budd in San Francisco honors Melville at 200

The San Francisco Opera returns to Britten’s 1962 high seas thriller Billy Budd, with a production new to the West Coast – Michael Grandage’s 2010 staging for Covent Garden, which was also a hit at BAM in 2014. Grandage said his goal was to leave the surging sound of the sea to Britten and to focus his effort on the “claustrophobic, violent, capricious shipboard world” that caused Billy’s hanging. The performances mark Melville’s bicentennial, which is also the centennial of the discovery of the novella Billy Budd among Melville’s papers.

Event link: San Francisco Opera ; sneak peek on

Sept. 13: Utah Symphony launches season inspired by canyons and stars

Music director Thierry Fischer threads movements of Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles … (From the canyons to the stars …) through eight programs in a 2019-20 concert season dedicated to Utah’s natural wonder, beginning with “Ce qui est écrit sur les étoiles” (What is written in the stars). Messiaen’s 1972 visit to Bryce Canyon in southern Utah was the inspiration for the masterpiece. Eventually the complete Des canyons aux étoiles … is destined for the Hyperion label. The live concerts will feature visuals from the Dark Sky Cooperative and various Utah conservancies.
Event link: Utah Symphony opening night

Sept. 19: Boston Symphony debuts second big work from Eric Nathan

When music director Andris Nelsons opens the 2019-20 season, he’ll be returning to the music of young American composer Eric Nathan, whose vibrant “the space of a door” from 2016 has gained traction with subsequent performances in Louisville and Aspen. (Sample it here.) Nathan’s new work, Concerto for Orchestra, implies virtuosity from every corner. The program also includes a yesteryear commission from 1959-60 – Poulenc’s Gloria for soprano, chorus, and orchestra. Charles Munch led it the first time, with Adele Addison. Nicole Cabell will sing with Nelsons.

Event link: Boston Symphony opening night