In recent years, symphony concertgoers have become accustomed to at least one — and sometimes more — marquee “names” performing during the course of a season. Past seasons have headlined such classical music stars as Yo-Yo Ma (twice), James Galway (twice), Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman and crossover stars like Bernadette Peters.
The 2013-14 season, announced by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, is noticeably absent of luminaries who are household names in the concert world. That doesn’t mean a drop in quality, but rather a widening of the net, LPO officials said.
“Many of the soloists we’re bringing in this season are at that same exact level as the big names,” said LPO music director and resident conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto. “You can count the household names (in the classical music world) on five fingers, and so we decided this year to go for the absolutely finest soloists and spread it all around rather than spend an incredible amount of money on one person. The soloists we have coming in are really the best there are.”
Sean Snyder, LPO’s director of marketing and communications, echoed Prieto’s sentiments.
“Classical music is different from pop music where we would have many choices of household names to bring in,” he said. “There are only just so many Yo-Yo Mas out there in the classical world, so we’re choosing to go in a different direction, and that’s to build a community around artists who are excellent on their respective instruments.”
Featured soloists for next season are great virtuosos from all over the world, Prieto said. He singled out violinists Gil Shaham (Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”: Sept. 21), Karen Gomyo (Britten’s Violin Concerto No. 1: Nov. 22), and Philippe Quint (“Cinematic Inspiration”: April 11), plus cellist Asier Polo (“Don Quixote”: Sept. 27), pianist Lilya Zilberstein (Ravel’s “Bolero”: Feb. 8) and Wu Man on pipa, an ancient, four-stringed Chinese instrument (Zhao’s Pipa Concerto: Jan. 31).
“We pretty much have great soloists every week,” Prieto said.
The season also will feature three pieces by Beethoven, the Piano Concerto No. 4 on Oct. 24, featuring Benedetto Lupo on piano at the Mahalia Jackson Theater; the 5th Symphony on Oct. 18 in Kenner, featuring Heather Zinninger on flute; and the widely known 9th Symphony on May 23 in Covington and May 24 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater.
The LPO also has an entire evening’s celebration planned for British composer Benjamin Britten on the centennial of his birth, Nov. 22.
“One of the greatest composers of the 20th century,” in Prieto’s words, Britten (1913-76) will have two of his best-known works performed: “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” and “Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes,” plus two lesser-known pieces, the violin concerto featuring Gomyo and “Ballad of Heroes,” which will feature the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans.
Another highlight is “Music of The Doors.” In keeping with the recent classical music trend of featuring the music of popular rock groups, “This is the orchestra’s way of trying to reach out to other audiences,” Snyder said. “We see these types of concerts as opportunities to hopefully bring newcomers out to see some of our other performances that may be more classical in nature.”
Randy Jackson from the local rock group Zebra (not the host from “American Idol”) will sing such popular Jim Morrison compositions as “Touch Me,” “Riders on the Storm,” “Roadhouse Blues,” “Light My Fire” and others. Brent Havens will guest conduct.
Returning annual events will be the Halloween concert this year titled “Psycho: A Symphonic Night at the Movies” on Oct. 26, and the “Baroque Christmas” concert in both New Orleans and Covington featuring two Bach pieces, plus selections from Handel’s “Messiah” sung by the Symphony Chorus.
Also returning: The annual “Yuletide Celebration” in both Kenner on Dec. 5 and Slidell on Dec. 15, offering holiday favorites, local school choirs, sing-alongs and scenes from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.”
Spring 2014 will get an early welcome March 7 at the First Baptist Church of Kenner, with six pieces all having the vernal equinox as the subject of their compositions.
Included among the six are “Spring” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and Copland’s Suite from “Appalachian Spring.”
Season tickets for LPO will be available for both new and renewing subscribers through mid-August, after which single tickets will go on sale.
For a full season schedule and ticket information, visit the LPO website at http://www.lpomusic.com/ or call (504) 523-6530.