When a top chef wants to show off the range of his restaurant’s excellence, he offers a tasting menu: samples of all the ways his establishment can dazzle a food lover. Now about to begin his fifth season, our top chef, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, put together his own tasting menu at the Kimmel Center Tuesday evening, unveiling all the ways The Philadelphia Orchestra will please music lovers in the 2016-17 season. Together with Orchestra CEO and President Allison Vulgamore, Yannick explored the variety of musical treats in store in the upcoming season.
A generous maestro (chef!), Yannick shared the stage with some of the people who’ll be producing those treats: organist extraordinaire Paul Jacobs, filling the hall with the sounds of the mighty Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ, as he will next November when he premieres an Orchestra co-commission from Pulitzer-prize-winning composer Christopher Rouse; Principal Bassoon Daniel Matsukawa, accompanied by Assistant Conductor Lio Kuokman at the piano, with a beautifully singing excerpt from Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto (Yannick: “If Mozart had known you, Danny, he would have written 20 bassoon concertos!”); Principal Percussion Christopher Deviney talking about a piece he’s arranged and orchestrated by jazz guitar great Pat Metheny that he’ll give the world premiere of in March/April 2017; video greetings from Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève (touting his wonderful Rachmaninoff Festival, as well as a live rendition of John Williams’s soundtrack for E.T., complete with HD screening of the beloved Spielberg film); and composer Mason Bates (the man behind Alternative Energy, coming up next spring).
All this talk about food, chefs, and tasting menus has us thinking about Paris, a restaurant and music mecca. So it’s appropriate that the season begins with two of Paris’s most famous composers (Berlioz and Chopin); that we drop in on the City of Light throughout the season; and that Paris will be our featured musical city during a three-week mini festival in January, when the Yannick and the Orchestra will explore the many ways that Paris has nurtured and inspired composers, from native Frenchmen such as Fauré and Saint-Saëns, to émigrés including Stravinsky and the afore-mentioned Chopin. It will truly be a feast for the ears!
Paris isn’t the only thematic element in the season. Yannick and the Orchestra will delve into American music (Bates, Rouse, Bernstein), spirituality (Mozart’s Mass in C minor), new music (Metheny/Deviney), and opera for the concert hall (Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle), and they will take a fresh look at the core repertoire (in-depth explorations of Rachmaninoff’s piano concertos, all four Brahms symphonies in the same season).
Would you like to hear about our specials? How about Simon Rattle for one night only conducting Mahler’s Sixth Symphony? Or Itzhak Perlman as soloist and conductor? Perhaps you’d like to try the Halloween Organ Extravaganza … or the Glorious Sound of Christmas! And don’t forget that amazing E.T. screening Stéphane Denève is so excited about.
But let’s not ignore our regular menu (the subscription concerts). There’s something for every musical taste: more great conductors (Michael Tilson Thomas, Herbert Blomstedt, Gianandrea Noseda, Fabio Luisi, Jane Glover); more great soloists (André Watts, Daniil Trifonov, Yuja Wang, Midori); more great voices (Susan Graham, Matthias Goerne, Karen Cargill, John Mark Ainsley, Lucy Crowe). We’ll even have the highly anticipated return of Conductor Laureate Charles Dutoit, joining us to lead Benjamin Britten’s powerful War Requiem.
We’ll give Yannick the last words on 2016-17: “It’s amazing—it’s already five years [as music director], but it’s still only the beginning; I have so many more ideas. We have accomplished so much together. We’ve built a strong foundation. The bond I have with the musicians is extraordinary. We are so comfortable with each other that now we can take more risks, reinvent our way of making music together. It’s all about the joy of making music, joy with a capital J!”
Read more about the 2016-17 season here. To hear Yannick talk about the season, please visit our YouTube page. To learn all about subscribing, please visit our website.