The talents of the Akron Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Christopher Wilkins will be center stage in a 2020-21 concert season filled with audience favorites, alongside diverse works by under-represented composers.
The Classic Series features at least one major popular work on every program, with favorites such as Beethoven’s Fifth, Dvořák’s New World Symphony, Haydn’s The Creation, Pictures at an Exhibition, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Handel’s Water Music. The versatility and virtuosity of our Orchestra and Chorus are on full display in these great works.
The 2020-21 season is also the most eclectic in the history of the Orchestra. There are six works by female composers in all manner of genres: an overture, a suite of dances, three tone poems, and a symphony. The season also includes works by two Latinx composers—Gabriela Lena Frank and Aldemaro Romero—and two African-American composers central to our tradition—William Dawson and Florence Price.
“Performing the great works with this orchestra is exhilarating,” Wilkins said. “There’s a special thrill to hearing the ASO in classics like the Beethoven Fifth, Handel’s Water Music, and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. But we don’t program any one of these pieces on a regular basis, wishing instead to keep them the special works they are.
“Two newly commissioned works typify the innovative nature of next season’s offerings. Ken Heinlein, our principal tuba, performs a new tuba concerto composed by our former composer-in-residence Clint Needham. And in an exciting new partnership, we will collaborate with EarthQuaker, highlighting the effects pedals and devices manufactured by this enormously successful Akron-based company. Several Orchestra members will ‘plug in’ to these devices as well, creating a whole new symphonic sound world.
“Performing the great works with this orchestra is exhilarating. There’s a special thrill to hearing the ASO in classics like the Beethoven Fifth, Handel’s Water Music, and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.” – Music Director Christopher Wilkins
“Next to performing, programming a new season is my favorite professional duty. It gives me the chance to think together with our musicians, staff, and board on how best to fulfill our mission to inspire this community through great music.”
The Classic Series season opens on September 26 with a program featuring Dukas’ symphonic poem, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,and Mussorgsky’s celebrated work, Pictures at an Exhibition.
Additional highlights of the Classic Series include:
Berlioz’ passionately inspired Symphonie fantastique and Beethoven’s The Creatures of Prometheus: Overture from his only published ballet, on October 17
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, considered to be the most influential piece of music ever composed, and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, featuring the Akron Symphony Chorus, on November 14
Handel’s ceremonial Water Music, Bach’s symphonic Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, and a commissioned Tuba Concerto featuring principal tuba Ken Heinlein, on January 16
Dvořák’s New World Symphony – a symphony written for America – on February 20
Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, featuring guest pianist Donna Lee, on March 27
Haydn’s The Creation, featuring the Akron Symphony Chorus, on May 15
In addition to the Classic Series, the Akron Symphony also presents the family friendly Home for the Holidays concert on December 11, and Gospel Meets Symphony, a Northeast Ohio tradition since 1994, on February 6.
The best way not to miss a note is to become a season subscriber. Patrons who subscribe enjoy steep discounts on a full season of concerts, guaranteed seats, a 10 percent discount on additional single ticket purchases, and a flexible ticket exchange program.