Symphony, Pops announce new season line-ups

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops unveiled Tuesday details of the 2022-2023 season, featuring an extensive line-up of programs and events and marking a full return to pre-pandemic activity.

The CSO and Pops have scheduled a total of 91 performances, which include CSO and Pops subscription programs, special events, CSO Proof, Young People’s Concerts, Lollipops, Classical Roots, Chamber Players, Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO) concerts, and the annual side-by-side concert with the CSYO and CSO.

Additionally, the CSO and Pops will present free digital livestreams of select performances throughout the season, as part of a continuing commitment to providing broad access to concerts to viewers in Cincinnati and around the globe. 

“The 2022-2023 season represents a high point for our organization after nearly two years of facing the challenges of the pandemic,” said CSO President and Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Martin. “During that time, we leaned into innovation and flexed our creativity in new ways, as evidenced by the creation of a new digital innovation department; a renewed organization-wide commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; and a new labor agreement with our musicians, which significantly altered work rules to maximize flexibility and efficiency in scheduling. The new season, one of the largest and most diverse in our orchestra’s history, is a reflection of our artistic leadership and made possible by the steadfast work of our musicians and staff, the guidance of our board of directors, and the generosity of our community.” 

Between the start of his tenure as music director in 2013 and the conclusion of the 2022-2023 season, Louis Langrée and the CSO will have contributed 42 commissions, including 32 world premieres, to the symphonic canon. 

The 2022-2023 season marks the penultimate season of Louis Langrée’s tenure as music director of the CSO. Opening with Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection,” Langrée will lead the CSO and the May Festival Chorus, joined by mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor and soprano Joélle Harvey, in an epic journey from darkness to light in the orchestra’s largest production since its 125th anniversary season.  

Continuing the orchestra’s legacy of commissioning new works, Langrée will conduct the CSO in ten of 19 subscription programs, including the world premiere of Samuel Adams’ “Variations;” the world premiere of Courtney Bryan’s Piano Concerto, with Bryan as soloist; the U.S. premiere of a piece by Daníel Bjarnason, part of a new multi-year co-commission project; and the U.S. premiere of Mark Simpson’s Piano Concerto featuring Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson.

“Commissioning new works is a part of our DNA,” said Langrée. “It represents one of our greatest responsibilities to commission and perform new music. Collaborations with living composers help us to listen with open ears and fresh minds.” 

In the new season, Christopher Rouse’s Symphony No. 6, which received its world premiere performance by Langrée and the CSO in 2019, will be performed again and recorded for commercial release. Co-commissions this season will include “The Observatory” by Caroline Shaw on a program with Holst’s “The Planets” and a saxophone concerto by Billy Childs, featuring saxophonist Steven Banks.  

The orchestra’s roster of artists and conductors will be as expansive and diverse as its programs. Making their debuts with the CSO are Steven Banks (saxophone), Courtney Bryan (piano), Elim Chan (conductor), Kevin John Edusei (conductor), Sterling Elliott (cello), Randall Goosby (violin), Víkingur Ólafsson (piano), Anna Rakitina (conductor), Thomas Søndergård (conductor), Dalia Stasevska (conductor), and Ramón Tebar (conductor).  

The list of esteemed guest artists includes returns by Behzod Abduraimov (piano), Khatia Buniatishvili (piano), Michelle Cann (piano), Michael Francis (conductor), Hélène Grimaud (piano), Giancarlo Guerrero (conductor), Augustin Hadelich (violin), Joélle Harvey (soprano), Stephen Hough (piano), Pekka Kuusisto (violin), Simone Lamsma (violin), Kelley O’Connor (mezzo-soprano), Jean-Yves  Thibaudet (piano), and Esther Yoo (violin), as well as CSO’s Principal Horn Elizabeth Freimuth. 

In the 2022-2023 season, the Cincinnati Pops continues its celebration of American music with large scale productions spanning iconic cinematic experiences, the Great American Songbook, Broadway, R&B, and classical favorites.

As music director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, Russell leads the prestigious Hilton Head International Piano Competition, and he also serves as Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, following in the footsteps of Marvin Hamlisch and Doc Severinsen. As a guest conductor, he has worked with many of the most distinguished orchestras in North America, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops, National Symphony, and the orchestras of Toronto, Vancouver, Dallas, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.

Pops Conductor John Morris Russell will lead four of five subscription programs, which include a centennial anniversary tribute to Hollywood legend Judy Garland featuring five-time Grammy®-nominated singer and pianist Michael Feinstein; “Hear Me Roar: A Celebration of  Women in Song” featuring three powerhouse singers; “Ragtime” in Concert, with a full cast and chorus performing the complete musical alongside the orchestra; and Holiday Pops, the beloved Cincinnati tradition, this year with the Annie Moses Band. Russell will also conduct the Fourth of July performance of “Red, White & Boom!” at Riverbend Music Center. 

Damon Gupton is the principal guest conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Gupton served as American Conducting Fellow of the Houston Symphony and held the post of assistant conductor of the Kansas City Symphony. His conducting appearances include the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, National Symphony Orchestra, Ft.  Worth Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, and Orquesta Filarmónica de UNAM.

Pops Principal Guest Conductor Damon Gupton will lead the orchestra in an all-Tchaikovsky Spectacular and New Year’s Eve with music from the Billie Holiday Songbook, performed by 2017 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition winner Quiana Lynell. 

“Our season sparkles with the diversity of musical styles and genres that define the American musical experience, from folk, bluegrass, and gospel to jazz, blues, and soul,” says Pops Conductor John Morris Russell. “The virtuosic musicians of our orchestra, our brilliant orchestrations, and spectacular special guests will create a unique experience that is quintessentially Cincinnati.” 

The Pops will also present three special event film-with-live orchestra screenings, including Disney’s 1991 animated classic, “Beauty and the Beast,” featuring an unforgettable score by eight-time Oscar®- winning composer Alan Menken; “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with music by legendary film composer John Williams; and Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther,” featuring music by Grammy-Award- and Academy-Award-winning Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson. Massamba Diop, the original percussionist for the highly acclaimed 2018 Marvel Studios film, will join the Pops for this cinematic live orchestra presentation.  

Launched in 2019, the CSO Proof series is an incubator for innovative concert formats, designed to challenge the constructs of a traditional orchestra performance. Programs are reimagined by an array of curators and collaborators and often employ elements of theater, dance, and visual media to add new dimensions of color and texture to the concert experience.  

The 2022-2023 CSO Proof series begins on October 14–16, 2022 with “Sun Dogs,” presented in collaboration with FotoFocus as part of the 2022 FotoFocus Biennial: “World Record” celebration. Designed by Liquid Music and composer Daniel Wohl, “Sun Dogs” features three short CSO-commissioned works for film and full orchestra by genre-defying collaborators. CSO Creative Partner Matthias Pintscher will conduct the orchestra in six Music Hall performances with all general admission tickets available for $5.  

The next CSO Proof, on Jan. 25, 2023 in the Music Hall Ballroom, is “The Right to Be Forgotten,” a postponed CSO co-commission with the Oregon Symphony from composer/pianist/vocalist Gabriel Kahane. Kahane’s thought-provoking new song cycle examines our cultural and economic obsessions with technology, convenience, and efficiency, and the debts—to labor, to the planet, to privacy, and, increasingly, to our free will—that accrue as a result. 

The final CSO Proof of the 2022-2023 season, on March 29–30, 2023, is “Surrealist el Tropical,” rescheduled from the inaugural season of CSO Proof. The CSO, dancers, and audience members will share the same space in a program that conjures up the sights and sounds of the Havana nightclub scene. Featuring the Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre from Miami, Florida—led by Cuban-American choreographer Rosie Herrera – video by Clyde Scott, and lights by Luke Kritzeck, “Surrealist el Tropical” breaks down the fourth wall of reality and envelops the audience in a sultry, neon-lit world on the stage of Cincinnati Music Hall. 

Sun Dogs” is presented in collaboration with FotoFocus as part of the 2022 FotoFocus Biennial: “World Record” with support from the David C. Herriman Fund of Greater Cincinnati Foundation. “The Right to Be Forgotten” and Surrealist el Tropical are supported by The Haile Foundation, Irwin and Melinda Simon, and the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund, a program of the League of American Orchestras made possible by funding from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. 

On April 14, 2023, Pops Conductor John Morris Russell will conduct the CSO’s annual Classical Roots concert at Music Hall. For over two decades, Classical Roots has been a beloved Cincinnati tradition, and what started as a summer concert series in neighborhood churches in 2001 has grown into a vibrant spring celebration of the African American musical experience. At its heart is the Classical Roots Community Choir, led by William Henry Caldwell, that performs in numerous concerts and collaborations throughout the year. 

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is committed to sharing orchestral music as widely as possible and with people of all ages. Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestras, made up of 200 of the region’s most talented young musicians, will perform three concerts next season, including the annual CSYO/CSO Side by-Side with their musical counterparts from the CSO. Young Peoples’ Concerts, designed for students in grades K-12, and Lollipops Family Concerts, introducing children ages or ability 2-9 to the world of orchestral music with fun, interactive performances, will also make their full-season, in-person return to Music Hall, with programs to be announced at a later time. 

The 2022-2023 season digital concert livestreams will build on a foundation of digital content that was catalyzed by COVID-19. In an effort to continue serving the Cincinnati community throughout the pandemic, the orchestra made a significant commitment to digital innovation and was among the first orchestras across the nation to livestream concerts in 2020. Since then, the CSO, Pops, and May Festival have produced and streamed 24 full-length concerts on YouTube and Facebook, reaching nearly two million viewers and creating a global community of virtual concertgoers. The 2022-2023 digital concert livestreams will be announced at a later date.

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