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Annapolis Symphony’s Jose-Luis Novo chooses works with connections

Jose-Luis Novo, music director for the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.
Jose-Luis Novo, music director for the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. (Matthew Cole / Capital Gazette)

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra opens its 56th season Oct. 6-7 at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts as Jose-Luis Novo raises his baton to open his 13th year, becoming the group’s longest-serving music director and conductor.

During Novo’s tenure, the orchestra’s artistic growth has been praised by area music critics and audiences alike, as have his innovative programming and collaborations with respected guest artists. These concerts are being presented in widening geographic areas in performance venues that continue to include the Music Center at Strathmore.

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Planned celebrations include Opening Night prelude and encore fundraising parties, reserved by ordering tickets at www.AnnapolisSymphony.org.

Two days after conducting the Labor Day Weekend Pops concert at Quiet Waters Park, Novo talked about the works he has chosen for the coming season.

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“I have a strong personal connection to this music that is actually a statement of love for music,” Novo said of most of the repertoire selected for each concert and the guest artists invited to appear with the Annapolis Symphony.

“Music for this season’s program was chosen not only for its being meaningful and important personally,” he said, “but because I know it will thrill and delight our loyal audiences.”

The opening concert will feature violinist Vadim Gluzman playing the Shostakovich Concerto for Violin No. 2 on his Stradivarius, on extended loan through the Stradivari Society of Chicago. At this first concert, Novo’s personal connection is to Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, one of the first symphonies he ever heard, and one that led him to a career in music.

The second concert, scheduled for Nov. 17-18, will feature trumpet soloist Christopher Sala in Tamberg’s Concerto for Trumpet No. 1, plus Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 and Barber’s Adagio for Strings, along with Schubert’s Symphony No. 4, another favorite of Novo’s

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Scheduled on March 2-3 are works by Debussy, Respighi and Xavier Montsalvatge, with guest artist guitarist Manuel Barrueco, who will perform Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” — a piece that had a major influence on the young Novo, which he later performed as a violinist “with some very famous guitarists, with Rodrigo present.”

April 13-14 brings young cellist Julian Schwarz, who performed under Novo, the conductor recalled, “seven years ago when Schwarz was still a teenager at the Eastern Music Festival.” Schwarz is making his first Annapolis appearance with the premiere of a new work, Lowell Lieberman’s Concerto for Cello, co-commissioned by the Annapolis Symphony and a few other orchestras. Also on the bill is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, a work especially meaningful to Novo because it was the first full symphony he ever conducted.

The season closes May 4-5 with pianist Jon Nakamatsu, who has performed more often with Novo than any other soloist; they met during his first year as ASO’s music director and conductor. These concerts feature Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, another Novo favorite that he conducted early in his career.

In addition to the Masterworks series, there a “Holiday Pops Holiday Swing!” concert featuring Byron Stripling on Dec. 15 and a Family Concert presenting Magic Circle Mime Company in “Peter and the Wolf” on May 12.

Ticket prices vary for full Masterworks subscriptions and include options for patrons unable to attend a full season. For more information and to purchase tickets call the box office at 410-263-0907 or order online at www.annapolissymphony.org.

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