The season opens on September 8 with Russian pianist Denis Matsuev making his Houston Symphony debut in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1; the program also includes Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Matsuev's countryman Kirill Gerstein joins Graf later in the month for Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Paganini.
A semi-staged version of A Midsummer Night's Dream featuring actress Maureen Thomas will be performed September 20-23. In January, the orchestra will play Strauss's Alpine Symphony with a photographic montage by Tobias Melle. In late Feburary Graf will lead Orff's Carmina Burana with the Houston Symphony Chorus and the Houston Children's Chorus.
On October 18-21 former Houston Symphony resident conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto leads music by Aaron Copland, and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg plays the violin solos in Astor Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.
Guest conductors next season include Michael Christie, Kwame Ryan, Bernard Labadie and Hannu Lintu making their Houston Symphony debuts; Claus Peter Flor, Louis Langr_e, Christoph Campestrini and former Houston Symphony music director Lawrence Foster return.
Making his Houston Symphony debut will be baritone Mariusz Kwiecien, who sings alongside soprano Twyla Robinson. Also in Houston for the first time will be Peter Schickele in "PDQ Bach: The Vegas Years," featuring Oedipus Tex and Schickele's infamous Songs from Shakespeare.
Other soloists include Emanuel Ax in Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1; percussionist Evelyn Glennie; mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, continuing Graf's Mahler song cycle with the R‹ckert-Lieder; Stephen Hough playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Jean-Yves Thibaudet performing Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.
There will even be a visiting orchestra: the UBS Verbier Orchestra, conducted by Charles Dutoit with piano soloist Martha Argerich. One major event of the season will be "The Beethoven Experience," a full day of programming on March 8, 2008 with Graf and the orchestra; the lineup includes family events, symphonic performances, solo piano and chamber music concerts.
New music on the season lineup includes John Adams's Tromba Lontana, Einojuhani Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus and Kevin Puts's Symphony No. 1, Exalted Virelai.
The orchestra will give the world premiere of Texas-based composer Cindy McTee's Trombone Concerto (a Houston Symphony commission), the latest in a series of commissions for the principal players of the orchestra. Principal trombonist Allen Barnhill will perform the work under Graf in January.
The season ends on May 18 with Graf conducting guitarist Eliot Fisk in Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez and pianist Shai Wosner performing de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain; the program also includes de Falla's El amor brujo Suite and Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnol.