An Orlando Ballet collaboration, tributes to Elton John and Louis Armstrong, beloved Rossini opera "The Barber of Seville" and performances by Eatonville-boy-turned-Broadway-star Norm Lewis and pianist Jon Kimura Parker are among the highlights of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra's 2013-14 season.
The Philharmonic announced its upcoming 21st season at an event for subscribers Tuesday evening at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center.
The season will open Sept. 28 with a performance by pianist Parker, a Vancouver native awarded his nation's highest honor — the Order of Canada — for his musical achievements.
On opening night, the Philharmonic will also tackle "Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life)" by Strauss. "It's a big, big work," said David Schillhammer, the Philharmonic's executive director. "It will test the mettle of the musicians."
Other concerts in the Classics Series include violinist Cho-Liang Lin and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 (Nov. 16); a Russian-composer program (Feb. 8-9, 2014), an evening of ballet music with dancers from Orlando Ballet (March 8) and the return of guest violinist Elmar Oliveira, who will play the Brahms violin concerto (April 5).
The Pops Series kicks off Oct. 12 with a collaboration with the Orlando Gay Chorus in a program titled "An American Salute," featuring U.S. composers, patriotic favorites and Tchaikovsky's booming "1812 Overture." Other pops concerts include the annual Christmas show (Nov. 30); the return of Michael Cavanaugh with a tribute to Elton John (Jan. 11, 2014); guest trumpeter Byron Stripling in a tribute to Louis Armstrong (Feb. 22); and a program featuring three well-known Broadway tenors, Brent Barrett, Matt Cavenaugh and Lewis, a former Central Floridian who has starred in shows such as "Les Miserables" and was Tony nominated for his role in "Porgy and Bess." That concert is March 22.
As in the current season, the Philharmonic will present two operas. Rossini's comic classic, "The Barber of Seville," will be performed Oct. 25 and 27. Verdi's tragic "La Traviata" will be onstage May 9 and 11, 2014.
The Philharmonic will also continue its smaller Focus Series of chamber music and its Sounds of Summer Series, which opens June 24 with a performance by Sovereign Brass.
This will be the Phil's final season with Christopher Wilkins at the helm as artistic director. He will conduct seven performances. The roster of guest conductors includes many who have previously worked with the Philharmonic, such as Joel Revzen, Albert-George Schram, Andrew Lane and Leslie Dunner.
"We're bringing back conductors that have a great connection with the audience and the musicians," Schillhammer said.
The Phil will give individual musicians more prominent roles throughout the season, Schillhammer said, having them introduce the pieces they are about to play, for example. That's based on audience interest, he said.
"There's a deep connection between our audience and our musicians," Schillhammer said. "They want to know the musicians more."
At Tuesday's preview, the Philharmonic also honored Kenneth and Ann Hicks Murrah with its John O. Blackburn Distinguished Service Award. The Murrahs are longtime orchestra supporters who, among other gifts, have endowed the timpani chair.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun