The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra opens its 2014-15 season Friday, Sept. 19, at the Mahalia Jackson Theater with an all-Strauss program titled “2014: A Strauss Odyssey.”
Four compositions by Richard Strauss will be performed, including “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra). With its three-note opening trumpet sequence, its sweeping orchestration and its thundering timpani, most people will recognize the piece from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi classic, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Alsoa on the evening’s program is Strauss’ “Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare,” “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks” and “Four Last Songs.” Renowned soprano Susanna Phillips will join the LPO for the “Four Last Songs” and LPO music director, Carlos Miguel Prieto conducts.
But even as the 70-member orchestra gears up for its new season, it is already looking ahead to its next year when it confidently expects to return to its original home in the Orpheum Theater.
The nearly 100-year-old art deco performance venue was flooded and shut down by Hurricane Katrina. Boyd noted that this season’s final concert will feature the same piece that was the last one performed at the Orpheum before Katrina hit: the Verdi Requiem.
Of course, it’s intentional, Boyd said.
“Almost 10 years to the date, we will perform the ‘Requiem’ again, except that this time it will be the last performance we give at the Mahalia Jackson Theater before we go back into the Orpheum,” Boyd said. “There is definitely some symbolism behind the decision to finish our season with that piece.”
This season Boyd noted that LPO is adding another “series” to its rapidly growing repertoire.
Titled “Outside the Bachs,” the series features music from the Baroque and neo-Baroque eras of the 1700s.
“The orchestra has not had a tradition of doing a lot of Baroque-era music, other than our annual Baroque Christmas Concert,” Boyd explained. “It’s something the musicians love to perform, and I know there is interest in the community in hearing more Baroque music
“However, these are not just straight-ahead Baroque concerts,” Boyd continued. “We’re trying to program concerts with a Baroque or a Bach base, but with a little twist to them. Something that might be neo-Baroque and have a different harmonic language, but with some similarities.”
All three “Outside the Bachs” concerts will be held at the First Baptist Church of New Orleans, including the annual “Baroque Christmas,” (Dec. 18) at which selections from Handel’s “Messiah” will be sung by the New Orleans Vocal Arts Chorale. The other two dates are Oct. 2 and March 26.
“Name” performers from the pop world who will be joining the LPO for concerts this season include banjo player Bela Fleck (Jan. 8 in New Orleans and Jan. 9 in Covington), and Grammy-winning pianist and vocalist Randy Newman on Jan. 17. Randy Jackson, lead singer for Zebra, will headline “Dark Side of the Moon: The Music of Pink Floyd” on May 15.
Stars from the classical music sphere will include violinists Benjamin Beilman (Sept. 26-27), Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (Jan. 16) and Philippe Quint (May 14); cellist David Finckel (Nov. 21-22); pianists Alessio Bax (Feb. 20-21), Kumi Matsuo (Feb. 27-March 1) and Jon Kimura Parker (April 17); and clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester (March 19-20).
Fleck will also be in a chamber music concert on January 10 at the Contemporary Arts Center. Franch-Ballester will be in a March 21 chamber concert at Gallier Hall.
In another season highlight, Cirque de la Symphonie reprises its death-defying gymnastic spectacle to the accompaniment of orchestral music with its December 6 “Cirque de Noel” show at the Saenger Theatre. Robert Bernhardt will guest conduct the combined show.
Sean Snyder, LPO’s marketing director, explained that various ticket packages are available across the spectrum of the orchestra’s concert series. He advised those interested to check the season schedule and make their reservations with LPO’s ticket office.
And, as the LPO prepares to move back into its home base in 2015, Boyd emphasized that subscribers for the current season will be given first priority for seat selection at the Orpheum. “If people want the good seats there, now is the time to subscribe,” Boyd said.
2014: A Strauss Odyssey
Season-opening concert of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra featuring the works of Richard Strauss. Featured soloist Susannah Phillips. Carlos Miguel Prieto conducts.
WHEN: Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, 1419 Basin St. (Louis Armstrong Park), New Orleans