NJSO announces 2020–21 season
- Programs highlight diverse artists and composers
- 2021 Winter Festival: ‘Gershwin & the Sounds of America’ features works by Ellington, Weill, Coleridge-Taylor/Aaron Dworkin, Bernstein and more
- Jennifer Koh performs world premiere by Newark-born composer Tyshawn Sorey on opening weekend
- Principal Horn Chris Komer premieres jazz concerto commissioned from four composers
- NJSO performs US premiere of co-commission from Thomas Adès, East-Coast premiere of Conrad Tao’s Spoonfuls
- Beethoven 250 celebration continues with Seventh Symphony, Wellington’s Victory, Violin Concerto with Augustin Hadelich, complete violin sonatas with Concertmaster Eric Wyrick
- Joshua Bell, Conrad Tao, Aaron Diehl, Gemma New make return engagements
- Violinist, pianist and composer Alma Deutscher debuts with NJSO
- Orchestra presents Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2, Jurassic Park
- and Star Wars: The Last Jedi in Concert
- Zhang leads Lunar New Year Celebration in Newark
- NJSO performs mainstage productions in seven communities across the state
Newark, NJ (January 22, 2020)—The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Xian Zhang announce the Orchestra’s 2020–21 season. Classical highlights include a Winter Festival featuring works by Gershwin and other luminary composers who blend classical and popular traditions; performances of commissions from Tyshawn Sorey, Thomas Adès and a quartet of jazz composers; a continuing celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday; return engagements by violin superstars Joshua Bell and Jennifer Koh and solo performances by multiple NJSO musicians.
Fulfilling its mission as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO offers classical series in Newark, New Brunswick, Princeton, Morristown, Red Bank and Englewood, with 14 weeks of subscription programs. The Orchestra adds a new venue—West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood—for a classical concert in May.
Special concerts include Handel’s Messiah at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton and the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, a Lunar New Year Celebration at NJPAC in Newark, Beethoven’s complete violin sonatas performed by Concertmaster Eric Wyrick across three programs at the Concert Hall at Drew University in Madison and performances by violinist, pianist and composer Alma Deutscher at Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank and NJPAC.
The NJSO continues its film concert series with Jurassic Park in Concert and Star Wars: The Last Jedi in Concert in Newark, New Brunswick and Red Bank and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 in Concert in Newark. The Orchestra presents two family concerts in Newark.
Zhang says: “This season not only shines a spotlight on our programs but also builds momentum as we move closer to the NJSO centennial in 2022. There is great excitement as we continue to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday, music that honors our commitment to diverse artists and their compositions, and extraordinary special guests such as Jennifer Koh, Conrad Tao and Joshua Bell. Our Winter Festival—featuring the works of George Gershwin, among other important composers—is not to be missed.”
As part of its ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion on stage and in concert programming, the Orchestra’s partnership with the Sphinx Organization brings Sphinx’s founder, Aaron Dworkin, to New Jersey stages for his spoken-word multimedia work The American Rhapsody, which tells the story of America through the words of George Washington, set to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Symphonic Variations on an African Air. The season opens with the world premiere of a new work by Newark-born composer and MacArthur genius Tyshawn Sorey. A cultural tradition continues with a festive Lunar New Year Celebration led by Zhang in Newark.
The Orchestra highlights the voices of women composers from Jessie Montgomery (Starburst) to Rene Orth (Chasing Light) to Vivian Li (commissioned to write a movement of an innovative jazz French horn concerto).
Opening weekend recreates the December 8, 1813, concert that saw the world premieres of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Wellington’s Victory. Zhang pairs the two Beethoven works with the world premiere of Sorey’s NJSO commission with violinist Jennifer Koh.
The classical season finale sees the return of Joshua Bell for a pair of violin showpieces—Bruch’s First Violin Concerto and the NJSO premiere of Bloch’s Baal Shem for Violin and Orchestra. Zhang conducts the finale, which also features Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony and the NJSO premiere of Rene Orth’s Chasing Light.
In a twist on his annual solo appearances with the Orchestra, Concertmaster Eric Wyrick performs Beethoven’s complete violin sonatas across three programs at the Concert Hall at Drew University—featuring pianists Simone Dinnerstein, Alan Feinberg and Drew Petersen—culminating on Beethoven’s birthday, December 16. The NJSO further honors the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth with performances of the composer’s violin concerto—featuring audience-favorite violinist Augustin Hadelich—and Fifth Symphony, led by guest conductor Mario Venzago.
Showcasing the talent within the Orchestra, several NJSO musicians take center stage as featured soloists with Zhang conducting. Principal Horn Chris Komer gives the world premiere of an innovative jazz French horn concerto, a work the NJSO commissioned from four jazz composers—Paquito D’Rivera, Vivian Li, Christian McBride and Gary Morgan. Principal Flute Bart Feller performs Nielsen’s Flute Concerto, Principal Cello Jonathan Spitz performs Saint-Saëns’ First Cello Concerto, solo piccolo Kathleen Nester performs Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto in C Major and Associate Concertmaster Brennan Sweet and Assistant Principal Viola Elzbieta Weyman perform Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola.
2021 Winter Festival: ‘Gershwin & the Sounds of America’
The 2021 Winter Festival, “Gershwin & the Sounds of America,” features the music of Gershwin and other luminary composers who blend classical and popular traditions. Major works by Gershwin—An American in Paris, Piano Concerto in F and selections from Porgy and Bess—anchor each week of the festival, the NJSO’s signature three-week artistic event. Zhang highlights the jazz, pop and classical influences of Gershwin’s music by pairing his works with music from Weill (Suite from The Threepenny Opera), Coleridge-Taylor/Aaron Dworkin (The American Rhapsody), Ellington (Harlem), Bernstein (Symphonic Dances from West Side Story), Herrmann (Suite from Vertigo) and a quartet of contemporary jazz composers (jazz French horn concerto commission). The Orchestra welcomes the Morgan State University Choir for Porgy and Bess.
Premieres & Commissions
Continuing her commitment to introducing new works to NJSO audiences, Zhang conducts the world premieres of two NJSO commissions—Tyshawn Sorey’s new work for violin and orchestra and a jazz French horn concerto with movements by Paquito D’Rivera, Vivian Li, Christian McBride and Gary Morgan. The Orchestra also gives the US premiere of a co-commission from Thomas Adès, led by former NJSO Associate Conductor Gemma New, and the East-Coast premiere of Conrad Tao’s Spoonfuls for Piano and Orchestra, performed by the composer and led by guest conductor Jader Bignamini.
The season also features several works new to the NJSO, including Schumann’s Overture to Genoveva, Coleridge-Taylor/Aaron Dworkin’s The American Rhapsody, Herrmann’s Suite from Vertigo, Walton’s First Symphony, Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, Rene Orth’s Chasing Light and Bloch’s Baal Shem for Violin and Orchestra.
Inspired Presentations of Core Repertoire
Season highlights include Mozart’s Piano Concertos No. 20 and 25, Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola and Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter”; Brahms’ Third Symphony; Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra; Ellington’s Harlem; Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story; Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, First Piano Concerto and Second Symphony, “Little Russian”; Chopin’s First Piano Concerto; Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony and Second Violin Concerto; Mendelssohn’s Fourth Symphony, “Italian,” and Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Piano Concerto in F, selections from Porgy and Bess, Three Preludes for Solo Piano and “I Got Rhythm” Variations for Piano and Orchestra.
In honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the NJSO presents the composer’s Fifth and Seventh Symphonies, Wellington’s Victory, Violin Concerto and complete violin sonatas.
The 2020–21 season sees the return of celebrated guest artists, including violinists Joshua Bell, Jennifer Koh, Augustin Hadelich, Karen Gomyo and Vadim Gluzman; pianists Conrad Tao, Aaron Diehl, Haochen Zhang and New Jersey’s Terrence Wilson; former NJSO Associate Conductor Gemma New and conductors Jun Märkl and Mario Venzago.
Pianists Jorge Federico Osorio and Tom Borrow, narrator Aaron Dworkin, the Morgan State University Choir and conductors Ruth Reinhardt, Fabien Gabel and Jader Bignamini make their NJSO debuts on classical subscription programs. Violinist, pianist and composer Alma Deutscher debuts in a pair of special concerts in Red Bank and Newark.
Showcasing its own musicians, the NJSO presents Principal Horn Chris Komer in the world premiere of an innovative jazz French horn concerto the NJSO commissioned from four jazz composers, Principal Flute Bart Feller in Nielsen’s Flute Concerto, Principal Cello Jonathan Spitz in Saint-Saëns’ First Cello Concerto, solo piccolo Kathleen Nester in Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto in C Major and Associate Concertmaster Brennan Sweet and Assistant Principal Viola Elzbieta Weyman in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola.
The Orchestra’s partnership with the Sphinx Organization brings Sphinx’s founder, Aaron Dworkin, to New Jersey stages for his spoken-word multimedia work The American Rhapsody, set to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Symphonic Variations on an African Air. The NJSO partners with the Morgan State University Choir for selections from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and with the Montclair State University Singers for Handel’s Messiah. The Orchestra brings Handel’s Messiah to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, a longtime collaborative partner. NJPAC co-presents Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 in Concert in Newark; State Theatre New Jersey co-presents the New Brunswick performances of Jurassic Park in Concert and Star Wars: The Last Jedi in Concert.
Special Opening Night Celebration gala festivities surround Zhang and the NJSO’s October 9 performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Wellington’s Victory and Tyshawn Sorey’s new work for violin and orchestra at NJPAC in Newark.
The Orchestra presents its third annual Lunar New Year Celebration at NJPAC in Newark on February 6.
Gala packages for each event include a pre-concert cocktail party and post-concert dinner with Zhang, NJSO musicians and special guests at NJPAC in Newark.
The NJSO presents a pair of engaging family programs—Britten’s A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Nathaniel Stookey’s The Composer is Dead, with text by Lemony Snicket—in the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark. Each concert has two showtimes and features special pre-concert events designed to bring young audiences closer to the music and music makers.
NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute
The Orchestra continues the NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute—a partnership between the Edward T. Cone Foundation, Princeton University and the NJSO—July 13–18, 2020. Promising emerging composers will have their work rehearsed by the NJSO and guest conductor Ludovic Morlot, participate in masterclasses with Institute Director Steven Mackey and receive feedback from NJSO musicians. The Institute will provide sessions with industry leaders in publishing, networking, promotion and music preparation to give participants a foundation for a successful career in composition. It concludes with an NJSO performance of the participants’ works on July 18 at Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University. Learn more at njsymphony.org/institute.
Classical and family subscriptions are now on sale for the 2020–21 season. Full information on ticket packages for each series and venue is available at njsymphony.org/subscribe; subscriptions are available for purchase online or by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476). Single tickets will go on sale in August.
The full 2020–21 press kit—including the season schedule, high-resolution photos and more—are available at njsymphony.org/presskit.