Akron Symphony Orchestra’s 2022–23 season is a mashup of musical styles unlike any other. It’s a year-long celebration of being American, of cultural traditions outside the standard fare, of exciting new voices, and elder statesmen like Beethoven and Mahler. By broadening the usual orchestral palette, these programs offer a greater range of expression, a heightened sense of discovery, and more opportunities for storytelling.
The 22-23 season opens with American Fanfare, a program looking at the idea of Americanness through diverse lenses. Works by Copland, Price, Tate, Walker, Still, and Gershwin are immediately recognizable as American, but they are very different from one another. Together they tell a rich and layered tale of this country’s musical heritage.
Next, Pastoral Symphony features imagery for both the ear and the eye. Beethoven’s vivid Sixth Symphony follows music by Stella Sung, accompanying projections of works of Norman Rockwell, and Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, with original animations by Knight Arts Challenge winner Amber Kempthorn. In November, Ellington’s Nutcracker & The Ballad of the Brown King offers an exciting twist to a classic favorite and welcomes a special guest, Akron-born Louise Toppin. Dr. Toppin has sung with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies and is recognized internationally as a champion of the music of the African diaspora.
Other works in 2022–23 explore non-American traditions and cultures not associated with the standard literature. As an example, Global Circus—engaging Akron’s refugee communities—features music by Syrian American composer Kareem Roustom, Afghan composer Milad Yousufi, Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera, and music for a film created in a Syrian refugee camp on the Turkish border by Iranian American composer Sahba Aminikia.
“I’m so excited for next year’s concerts, and for all the projects we have planned both on and off the stage,” says Music Director Christopher Wilkins. “I’m deeply proud of what this orchestra stands for. Next season’s programs are the most inclusive, far-reaching, and thought-provoking we’ve ever produced. It’s especially telling that much of their musical diversity comes from a single country: America.”
The seven-concert series is comprised of twenty-seven works. 59% are by American composers—this in itself is a rarity among American orchestras; 52% by composers of color; and 33% by Black Americans. Seven works are by living composers, almost all of whom plan to come to Akron for these performances.
Come hear a magnificent orchestra perform great music live, and delight in musical works born of many traditions. Taken together, they show what an orchestra can be: a voice for unity.
Without further ado, the 22-23 line-up:
September 24 at 7:30 pm
John Gruber, trombone
Aaron Copland Fanfare for the Common Man
Florence Price Andante moderatoJerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate Moccasin Game
William Grant Still Symphony No. 2 “Song of a New Race”
George Walker Trombone Concerto
George Gershwin An American in Paris
October 15 at 7:30 pm
with projections of works by Norman Rockwell and original animations by Amber Kempthorn*
Benjamin Britten Peter Grimes: Four Sea Interludes
Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale”
* Knight Arts Challenge Winner
November 12 at 7:30 pm
Ellington’s Nutcracker & The Ballad of the Brown King
Louise Toppin, soprano
Akron Symphony Chorus
Members of Gospel Meets Symphony Choir
Ottorino Respighi Ancient Airs and Dances No. 2
Margaret Bonds The Ballad of the Brown King (A Christmas Cantata)
Julia Perry Fragments from the Letters of Saint Catherine
Duke Ellington Nutcracker Suite (after Tchaikovsky)
December 9 at 7:30 pm
Home for the Holidays
January 14 at 7:30 pm
For Justice and Peace
Eunice Kim, violin
Xavier Foley, double bass
Members of the Gospel Meets Symphony Choir
S. Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
Julia Perry Pastoral
Xavier Foley Double Concerto “For Justice and Peace”
Giovanni Bottesini Double Bass Concerto No. 2
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings
February 11 at 7:30 pm
Gospel Meets Symphony
February 25 at 7:30 pm
Featuring Syrian refugees of the Sirkhane Social Circus School in a film by Pinar Demiral and projected artwork by Milad Yousufi
Wolfgang Amadè Mozart Turkish March
Kareem Roustom Dabke
Georges Bizet L’Arlésienne (excerpts from the original version)
Milad Yousufi Freedom
Sahba Aminikia Circus Play
Alberto Ginastera Variaciones concertantes
April 15 at 7:30 pm
Women of the Akron Symphony Chorus
Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 3
May 13 at 7:30 pm
Akron Symphony Chorus
Brian Keith Johnson, baritone
Timothy Adams Harriet Tubman & The Underground Railroad*
* a premiere performance (commissioning consortium)
Johannes Brahms A German Requiem
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.
Subscription packages go on sale in April. The seating deadline is July 1. Single tickets go on sale on August 1 and pricing starts at $20. All concerts take place at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, located on the campus of The University of Akron.
For more information, visit AkronSymphony.org.