Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Announces 2014-15 Season Line-up

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Photo by Scott Preston

CINCINNATI, OH – Coming off the acclaimed and wildly popular LumenoCity event in August and the first half of Louis Langrée’s blockbuster inaugural season as Music Director, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is positioned for an extraordinary 2014-15 season that will not only feature musical performances at the highest level, but also continue the Orchestra’s focus on groundbreaking initiatives and collaborations that have garnered international attention. The CSO’s 2014-15 season includes 20 subscription programs and reinforces Cincinnati’s position as a richly diverse cultural destination in the United States.

“I am so honored to be Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and to be part of the vibrant Cincinnati community,” said Mr. Langrée. “Our musical exploration together has just begun and we have much to look forward to in the 2014-15 season.”

Kicking off the Orchestra’s 2014-15 season is the highly anticipated return of pianist Lang Lang, who served as a CSO Creative Director during the 2011-12 season. He returns on Saturday, September 13, 2014 for the Opening Night Gala performance. Mr. Langrée will conduct the all- Beethoven program which includes the composer’s Egmont Overture, Piano Concerto No. 1 and Symphony No. 7.

The details of the gala event surrounding this concert will be announced at a later date. Lang Lang has skyrocketed to superstardom in recent years, performing to sold-out halls around the globe. Lang Lang’s most recent performance with the CSO in 2012 sold out. His technical pyrotechnics and spirited interpretations have made him an international rock star of the genre, thrilling critics and audiences alike.

Mr. Langrée received a very warm Cincinnati welcome from 35,000 people from all walks of life at LumenoCity in August, and thrilled audiences again during his official inaugural concerts in November featuring Dr. Maya Angelou and eighth blackbird at Music Hall—the CSO’s first back-to-back sellout in 17 years (1996). He is officially moving his residence to Cincinnati over this summer and will conduct ten subscription weeks during the 2014-15 season in addition to the season opener featuring Lang Lang for a total of 23 concerts.

The list of guest artists returning to the Music Hall stage includes some of the most popular conductors and instrumentalists from recent seasons with the CSO.

Pianist Emanuel Ax last performed with the Orchestra in January 2012, and he returns September 26-27, 2014 to play Chopin’s lushly romantic Piano Concerto No. 2.

Internationally acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell collaborates with the world’s best orchestras and ensembles, often experimenting across genres. In September 2012 he brought the audiences to its feet with Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 2, and on May 7 & 9, 2015 he returns to perform both Glazunov (Violin Concerto) and Tchaikovsky (Méditation) under the baton of Mr. Langrée, a longtime friend and collaborator of Mr. Bell’s.

A favorite of Cincinnati audiences, pianist André Watts returns October 24-25, 2014 to perform the celebrated American composer Edward MacDowell’s romantic Second Piano Concerto.

Violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson return November 21-22, 2014 to perform the world premiere of Grammy winning composer André Previn’s Double Concerto for Violin and Cello.

During the 2014-15 season, the CSO gives special focus to the dean of American composers, John Adams. Mr. Adams will conduct a program of Bartók, Lyadov, Respighi and his own work on April 17-18, 2015 in his first engagement with the CSO since 2008. Violinist Leila Josefowicz, a champion of new music and contemporary composers, returns to perform Mr. Adams’ Sheherazade.2 – Symphony for Violin & Orchestra. The subscription season also opens with Mr. Langrée conducting Mr. Adams’ epic Harmonielehre on September 19 and 20.

Other notable returns include the CSO’s Music Director Laureate Paavo Järvi; conductors Juraj Valčuha, Andrey Boreyko, Michael Francis, Peter Oundjian, former CSO Creative Director Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and Sir Roger Norrington; clarinetist Martin Fröst; violinist Simone Lamsma; pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Ingrid Fliter; cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn (the CSO’s principal cellist who will perform as soloist for Schumann’s Cello Concerto January 15, 17-18, 2015); and harpist Gillian Benet Sella (the CSO’s principal harp who will perform Turina’s Theme and Variation for Harp and Orchestra March 20-21, 2015).

The May Festival Chorus, under the direction of Robert Porco, will also perform Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and King of the Stars (October 9 and 11), Orff’s Carmina Burana (January 15, 17 and 18, 2015) and the Women of the May Festival Chorus will perform in Holst’s The Planets (February 19, 21 and 22, 2015) during the 2014-15 season.

Percussionist Martin Grubinger, “a master of the high-speed chase” (New York Times), performs with the CSO for the first time in the May 15-16, 2015 season closer. His recording projects and dynamic concerts with the world’s top ensembles have made him one of the most sought-after artists on the planet. He performs Avner Dorman’s Spices, Perfumes, Toxins! under the baton of Mr. Langrée.

Conductor Kazem Abdullah debuts with the CSO on October 9 & 11, 2014. A graduate of University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Mr. Abdullah previously served as the Assistant Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, during which time he worked with such esteemed conductors as Mr. Langrée, James Levine, Fabio Luisi and more. During his debut he leads the CSO and the May Festival Chorus in Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and King of the Stars, as well as Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony.

Conductor Han-Na Chang previously performed with the CSO as cello soloist during its 2001 tour and makes her CSO conducting debut February 6-7, 2015.

The CSO’s second collaboration as part of the MusicNOW Festival flaunts an exciting artist debut in Caroline Shaw, who will perform violin during the world premiere of her own work on the program.

Pianist Valentina Lisitsa, known as the first “YouTube star” of classical music, has converted her Internet success into a global concert career performing at the world’s most important venues. “Her essential attribute is a fevered urgency, an almost desperate desire to suck the expressive marrow from a piece,” notes The Daily Telegraph. Ms. Lisitsa makes her CSO debut January 30-31, 2015 performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

Other notable debuts include violinist Alina Ibragimova; pianists Alexander Gavrylyuk, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Igor Levit and Khatia Buniatishvili; soprano Erin Morley and baritone Matthew Worth.

Percussionist Martin Grubinger and clarinetist Martin Fröst will also serve as artists-in-residence during the 2014-15 season. These sought-after musicians will each participate in separate Cincinnati residency weeks comprised of performances, master classes, workshops, appearances and more that will benefit the community in myriad ways.

The CSO’s upcoming MusicNOW Festival collaboration will undoubtedly break new ground in classical music this March, and plans are underway to continue this collaboration with the Festival’s Artistic Director Bryce Dessner next season.

For the 2015 MusicNOW Festival, Mr. Langrée will conduct the CSO in two world premieres by violinist and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, as well as Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnsason. More details about the 2015 MusicNOW Festival will be announced at a later date.

“With our MusicNOW partnership, we’re expanding the repertoire and introducing the CSO to new audiences,” said Mr. Langrée. “This year’s MusicNOW Festival will push the boundaries of concert music, and I’m thrilled to be continuing the Orchestra’s collaboration with Bryce.”

The CSO’s wildly popular One City, One Symphony community engagement initiative returns for the 2014-15 season. This year’s theme will be “heroes.” Headlining the program will be Mahler’s First Symphony, nicknamed Titan. Also on the program is Hymne à la justice by French composer Albéric Magnard, who died a national hero in 1914, refusing to hand over his property to German invaders. Rounding out the program is Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, written for the tragedy about ancient Roman leader Gaius Marcius Coriolanus.

A new element to the 2014 One City, One Symphony program will be a special Sunday afternoon performance on November 16 entitled “Louis’ Listening Party.” On the first half of the program, Mr. Langrée will explore the theme of “Heroes” in Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, Titan, accompanied by musical excerpts by the Orchestra. The Orchestra will then perform the full work on the second half of the program.

The CSO will also continue to present many of the previous elements embedded in One City, One Symphony including neighborhood listening parties, listening guides, educational materials and dozens of community partnerships. More details about the entire initiative will be announced at a later date at

“There’s so much to discover and share in great works of music, and so much we can learn from a community conversation that is inspired by music,” said Mr. Langrée. “One City, One Symphony will explore the theme of ‘heroes’—people who stood up for their beliefs, or for their art. It’s a theme that we can all relate to.”

The CSO pays tribute to the 175th anniversary of beloved Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky during the 2014-15 season. Several of Tchaikovsky’s works appear on the season including his Suite No. 3 (October 30-November 1, 2014) and Méditation for Violin performed by Joshua Bell (May 7&9, 2015). The celebration peaks on November 28-29, 2014 with an all- Tchaikovsky program conducted by Mr. Langrée that includes two of the composer’s most popular works—the Piano Concerto No. 1 (with soloist Alexander Gavrylyuk) and Symphony No. 5.

In addition to the special One City, One Symphony performance on Sunday, November 16, the CSO will perform two additional Sunday afternoon concerts including Mr. Langrée conducting Carmina Burana on January 18 and Peter Oundjian conducting The Planets on February 22.

Subscription packages go on sale beginning January 10, 2014 for the Masterworks, Ascent and Boundless Series. Subscribers who purchase ten or more concerts receive the Season Opener with Lang Lang free. Single tickets go on sale August 8, 2014. Subscription packages start at $60 and subscribers enjoy a number of benefits. Single tickets will start at $12.