Detroit Symphony Orchestra Announces Adventurous Programming for 2007-08 Season

Classic Arts News   Detroit Symphony Orchestra Announces Adventurous Programming for 2007-08 Season
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which is still without a music director following Neeme Järvi's departure in 2005, has announced its 2007-08 season. Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker, who has previously criticized the orchestra for its conservatism, writes that the DSO "appears to have rediscovered its artistic compass."

President Anne Parsons told the Free Press that she had chosen a conservative course in 2004 when she began her tenure, because the orchestra had a $2 million increase in its deficit and was about to lose Järvi after a historic 15-year tenure. Now, after three straight balanced budgets, she's reportedly more willing to risk more adventurous repertoire.

The season opens on September 13, with Peter Oundjian conducting Emanuel Ax in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 (The "Emperor"), Joan Tower's Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.

Highlights of the upcoming season include a celebration of the 70th birthday of John Corigliano: the DSO will perform his three symphonies, and he will visit Detroit for a residency and other educational activities.

British modernist composer and conductor Oliver Knussen makes his DSO debut conducting two of his own scores, including the Violin Concerto with soloist Leila Josefowicz, along with infrequently performed works by Stravinsky.

The contemporary music lineup also includes a DSO-commissioned premiere by Stacy Garrop, age 37, who won the orchestra's inaugural Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Competition for Women Composers last year, as well as William Bolcom's Symphony No. 7 and Chen Yi's Momentum. Traditional repertory includes a ninth symphony cycle, featuring the ninth symphonies of Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler, Bruckner, Dvorák and Vaughan Williams.

DSO vice president and general manager Stephen Millen, who came up with the Corigliano and Ninth Symphony cycles ideas, has been spearheading programming in the absence of a music director. "We're trying to do it in a way that doesn't make people nervous and have audiences learn to trust our taste," Parsons told the paper.

The new season also features an exchange with the Toronto Symphony, which will perform at Orchestra Hall on March 14, 2008. The DSO will appear in Toronto on November 8. Both concerts will be conducted by Oundjian, music director of the Toronto Symphony, who signed a two-year deal in June to become the DSO's principal guest conductor and artistic adviser.

Stryker writes that he doesn't have a definite hunch yet as to who might replace Järvi. Guest conductors like Mark Wigglesworth, Hans Graf, Andrew Davis and Oundjian, all of whom have made favorable impressions of varying degrees with the musicians, will return next season; the guest conductor lineup also includes Charles Dutoit, Vladimir Ashkenazy (who last led the DSO in 1979) and Gennady Rozhdestvensky.

Just as the Philadelphia Orchestra has bought itself some leeway by hiring Charles Dutoit as chief conductor while it launches a music director search to replace Christoph Eschenbach (who steps down next summer), the hiring of Oundjian has also given the DSO some breathing room.

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