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
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.
CD release link: Cedille sample tracks and pre-order
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 medici.tv
Sept. 13: Utah Symphony launches season inspired by canyons and stars
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.