Going from “The Big Easy” to “The Big Apple” is a big deal for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. The LPO’s Feb. 27, 2018, debut concert in New York City’s fabled Carnegie Hall is shaping up as possibly the biggest accomplishment in the 26-year-old orchestra’s history and the biggest story of the 2017-18 season, which opens tonight (Thursday, Sept. 14) at the Orpheum Theater.
Now all they have to do is raise the money to get there.
That quest, which is already underway, will continue until the goal of $80,000 is reached. This translates to $1,000 for each of the 80 musicians slated to take part in the milestone event. An announcement to that effect is expected to be made at tonight’s concert featuring two works by French composer Maurice Ravel, including his most famous work, “Bolero,” plus “La Valse” (The Waltz).
Other pieces on the opening night program will include Claude Debussy’s “La Mer” (The Sea) and George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F. Marc-Andre Hamelin will be the guest soloist on the Gershwin piece. The program will be repeated tomorrow night at First Baptist Church in Covington and again at the Orpheum on Saturday night.
James William Boyd, the LPO’s chief executive officer, explained how the Carnegie Hall concert came about and expounded on some of the other highlights of the upcoming season, including a banjo concerto by Bela Fleck commissioned for next year’s New Orleans Tricentennial.
“We were one of only two orchestras selected competitively from across the country to participate in this program that Carnegie Hall is hosting in honor of (composer) Philip Glass’ 80th birthday,” Boyd said.
One factor that appeared to work in the LPO’s favor was the past working relationship between Glass and Carlos Miguel Prieto, LPO music director and principal conductor, Boyd added.
The Carnegie Hall program will feature two of Glass’ works, plus Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas’ 1939 composition, “The Night of the Mayas.” Prieto will conduct the performance, along with two performances of the same works at the Orpheum on Feb. 22 and 24.
Fleck’s “New Banjo Concerto” will be premiered on March 15 and 17 at the Orpheum and at Covington’s First Baptist on the 17th.
Other season highlights mentioned by Boyd include a salute to the cinematic music of composer John Williams on Nov. 3 and 5, a showing of the film “Jurassic Park” accompanied by the music of the LPO on Jan. 20 and 21, and “Purple Rain: The Music of Prince” on April 21. Boyd also singled out the holiday tradition of presenting “Handel’s Messiah” with the NOVA Masterworks Chorale and featured soloists in mid-December, as well as a “Holiday Spectacular” now in its third year featuring the 610 Stompers on Dec. 9 and 10.
Throughout the season, concertgoers will hear a mix of works by familiar composers like Bach, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Brahms and Dvorak, as well as more recent ones like Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Ottorino Respighi and Jerry Bock (“Fiddler on the Roof”).
The season will end with a flourish in mid-May as Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” is presented in its entirety, including the instantly recognizable “O Fortuna” chorus that has backed many film soundtracks.
“We usually try to do something that is exciting and fun to open the season,” Boyd said. “The audience has not had the opportunity to go to an LPO concert for 16 weeks, so this opening night should be really exciting.”
Speaking about the guest soloist, Boyd termed Hamelin “a beautiful performer. The audience should very much enjoy his performance.”
Boyd also spoke highly of the LPO’s incoming president of the board of trustees, Ranney Mize, whose term in a similar capacity with the New Orleans Opera Association expired in July.
“We’re excited to have him on board for that. He’s definitely been a major influence on the orchestra, so I’m glad he’s been willing to take on another leadership role,” Boyd said.
“We’re continuing our quest to be, not only the orchestra for New Orleans, but for the entire region,” Boyd said. “We’re returning to Jefferson Parish, Hammond, Slidell and Covington with our programming this year and looking forward to a great season.”
Ravel’s "Bolero" and Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F
Presented by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra with featured soloist Marc-Andre Hamelin. Carlos Miguel Prieto conducts.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.
WHERE: Thursday and Saturday at Orpheum Theater, 129 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans; Friday at First Baptist Church of Covington, 16333 La. Hwy. 1085, Covington.
TICKETS: $29-$140 New Orleans; $20-$55 Covington.
INFO: (504) 523-6530. lpomusic.com