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ASU’s orchestra season offers creative diversity

symphony orchestra

The ASU symphony orchestra performs with Jeffery Meyer, conductor.

September 19, 2018

The Arizona State University School of Music orchestras aim to advance the reinvention and revitalization of the contemporary orchestra scene in the United States. The 2018-19 symphony and chamber orchestra season is filled with not only the great masterworks of the orchestral tradition but also genre-bending new pieces, multimedia experiences, several world premieres and large-scale collaborations involving hundreds of performers.

Aligned with Projecting All Voices, an initiative of the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, this season proudly provides creative diversity.

Tickets are available through the ASU GammageTempe Center for the ArtsMesa Arts Center and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts box offices for ticketed performances. ASU Gammage general admission tickets are $12. All ASU students with an ID are eligible for one complimentary ticket; Herberger Institute faculty and staff are eligible for two complimentary tickets.

Strauss, Rachmaninoff and Lutosławski

ASU Symphony Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Michelle Nam, piano, 2018 concerto competition winner
7:30 p.m. Sept. 22, ASU Gammage

The ASU Symphony Orchestra opens the 2018-19 season with a powerhouse program of virtuosic works by Strauss, Rachmaninoff and Lutosławski. The program opens with Strauss’s explosive tone poem “Don Juan,” which launched him to international fame when he was only 25 years old. The Rachmaninoff Rhapsody continues the journey with its sweeping brilliance, and the stirring folk melodies of Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra conclude the evening.

Graduate recital

ASU Chamber Orchestra
Michelle Di Russo & Yun Song Tay, conductors
7:30 p.m. Oct. 2, Katzin Concert Hall

Assistant conductor Yun Song Tay leads the ASU Chamber Orchestra in Mendelssohn’s "Hebrides Overture," an 1832 masterwork that still resonates in culture today through concert halls, movies and video games. Assistant conductor Michelle Di Russo then leads the orchestra in Anna Clyne’s powerful meditation on love and loss that draws from the poetry of Thich Nhat Hanh. The concert concludes with Di Russo conducting Mozart’s soaring Symphony No. 29.


ASU Chamber Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
David Schildkret, chansonnier
7:30 p.m. Oct. 20, ASU Gammage
3 p.m. Oct. 21, Mesa Arts Center

The ASU Chamber Orchestra embarks on a musical exploration of Frankenstein themes as part of the ASU Frankenstein Bicentennial Project. HK Gruber’s “Frankenstein!” features a fantastical protagonist and an ensemble that blurs the lines between classical and popular music. The second half of the concert will present the 1931 black and white film “Frankenstein” with Michael Shapiro’s film score performed live. Guests are invited to arrive one hour before each concert to participate in Frankenstein-related activities and explore the many facets of the Frankenstein story through innovative projects and perspectives from across the disciplines.

Bernstein's 'Mass'

ASU Symphony Orchestra, Music Theater and Opera, ASU Choirs, and Phoenix Boys Choir
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Jubilant Sykes, baritone
7:30 p.m. Nov. 17, ASU Gammage
2 p.m. Nov. 18, ASU Gammage 

Leonard Bernstein’s remarkable and controversial work commissioned for the opening of The Kennedy Center, “Mass,” is performed in celebration of the American icon’s centennial. The production features renowned guest artist Jubilant Sykes as the Celebrant alongside the ASU Symphony Orchestra; ASU Choirs; Music Theatre and Opera; the School of Film, Dance and Theatre; and the Phoenix Boys Choir​. Written at a time when the world was facing profound crises of identity, faith and morality, 'Mass' resonates as deeply today as it did during the Vietnam War. It is a piece that celebrates the boundaries Bernstein expanded as a composer and artist, as well as the profound depths that are possible in a journey through faith and doubt.

Shostakovich and Strings

ASU Symphony Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Yuhui Li, piano, 2018 concerto competition winner 
4 p.m. Jan. 27, Scottsdale Center for the Arts
7:30 p.m. Jan. 29, Tempe Center for the Arts

The ASU Symphony Orchestra presents a dramatic program of Eastern European works influenced by the events of World War II. Core repertoire works, Shostakovich' Piano Concerto No. 2 and Bartok's "Divertimento" are performed in dialogue with the avant-garde “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima” by Penderecki and the masterpiece of neoclassicism Concerto for String Orchestra by pioneering female composer Grażyna Bacewicz.

Graduate recital

ASU Chamber Orchestra
Michelle Di Russo, Yun Song Tay, Francisco Hernández, conductors
7:30 p.m. Feb. 10, Katzin Concert Hall

Three assistant conductors from the studio of Jeffery Meyer present an enticing and eclectic chamber orchestra program of works by Webern, Dvorak and Mihaud.

Brahms Symphony No. 2

ASU Chamber Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Robert Spring, clarinet
7:30 p.m. Feb. 28, ASU Gammage

The world premiere of Rodney Rogers’ Clarinet Concerto will be performed by the ASU Symphony Orchestra and Robert Spring, professor of clarinet. In addition to featuring these two world-renowned ASU faculty members, this must-see concert opens with Beethoven’s heroic Leonora Overture No. 3 and concludes with Brahms’ radiant Second Symphony.

Mussorgsky 'Pictures at an Exhibition' and Projeto Arcomusical

ASU Symphony Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Projeto Arcomusical, berimbau ensemble
7:30 p.m. March 31, Tempe Center for the Arts

The ASU Symphony Orchestra welcomes Projeto Arcomusical, a world-music sextet that reimagines the Afro-Brazilian musical bow, the berimbau. The group will premiere Elliott Cole’s new concerto written for the ensemble and the ASU Symphony Orchestra, “Berimbau Concerto,” as well as an opening new work by one of the group’s own members, Alexis C. Lamb. Mussorgsky’s blazing masterwork “Pictures at an Exhibition” brings the program to a close.

Young Persons' Concert

ASU Symphony Orchestra
Michelle Di Russo, Yun Song Tay, Francisco Hernández, conductors
10:30 a.m. March 27, ASU Gammage

ASU’s three orchestral assistant conductors lead an educational and entertaining program for high school and middle school students featuring the music of Mussorgsky and Wagner.

Stravinsky and Wagner

ASU Symphony Orchestra
Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Gordon Hawkins, baritone
Stephanie Weiss, mezzo-soprano
7:30 p.m. April 18, Tempe Center for the Arts

The 2018-19 season closes with “Petrushka,” Stravinsky’s second masterpiece written for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russesdepicting the deadly love triangle between puppets who suddenly come to lifeThe first half presents some of Wagner’s most inspired music from his greatest operas featuring ASU School of Music faculty Gordon Hawkins and Stephanie Weiss.

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