Musicians and staff members of the Victoria Symphony unveiled details of its 2012-13 season last week at a reception in the showroom of Three Point Motors, one of its corporate sponsors.
The coming season will be slightly leaner, with the elimination of the three light-music concerts of the Royal Tea series, but will otherwise retain its former structure: Signature, Legacy, and Classics series; pops, children's and holiday concerts; outdoor concerts leading into the annual Symphony Splash in the Inner Harbour on Aug. 5; and plentiful educational and outreach programs.
The 2012-13 season will be Tania Miller's 10th as music director, and this milestone deserves recognition not only for numerical reasons: Miller has proven to be a more reliably convincing interpreter than her predecessors, and the orchestra has become a technically superior instrument since she took its reins in 2003. (She was then, at 33, the youngest - and only female - conductor of any major orchestra in Canada.)
In marking the anniversary, Miller will be slightly busier next season, leading 10 programs (not counting summer concerts). It is Miller who will open the season, on Sept. 17, and she who will bring it to a close, in May 2013, with Stravinsky's Rite of Spring - a nod to the centenary of that ballet's famously scandalous première.
Miller's conspicuously wide-ranging repertoire next season will include two 20th-century masterpieces that the Victoria Symphony has never performed - Nielsen's Symphony No. 5 and the suite from another once scandalous ballet, BartÃ³k's The Miraculous Mandarin - as well as a diverse Classics program and Mozart's Requiem. She will also conduct four premières: a short piece by the distinguished (but never predictable) Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer; two installments of a fourpart piece by the orchestra's composer-in-residence, Michael Oesterle; and the Dutch composer Wim Zwaag's Violin Concerto, which the orchestra recorded last year (the soloist will again be its concertmaster, Terence Tam).
As usual, the 2012-13 programming will feature a slate of familiar concertos and major 18th-and 19th-century symphonies - Mozart's "Jupiter," Haydn's No. 101, Beethoven's Fourth and Fifth, Schubert's Third and Sixth, Dvo?rÃ¡k's Fifth, Tchaikovsky's PathÃ©tique - plus some shorter works of special appeal, like Wagner's radiant Siegfried Idyll (the Wagner of choice for people who hate Wagner).
The most highly anticipated guest soloists next season will surely be James Ehnes, perhaps Canada's most admired violinist, and Calgary-born pianist Jan Lisiecki, a 17-year-old phenom already enjoying a major international career. (They will perform, respectively, the Sibelius concerto and Chopin's First.) But many other noteworthy visitors will perform concertos here next season - violinist Jinjoo Cho (Beethoven), cellist Zuill Bailey (Elgar), and pianists AndrÃ© Laplante (Beethoven's Third), Ian Parker (Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue), and Ang Li (Mozart's D-minor), among others - as will the fine local pianists Lorraine Min (Grieg) and Shoko Inoue (Saint-SaÃ«ns's Second).
The Classics series will continue to feature less familiar 18th-century composers (Geminiani, Wagenseil, Cimarosa) alongside the period's biggest names, with, as usual, some postClassical music of a classicizing bent (a Brahms serenade) thrown into the mix. The opening Classics concert, incidentally, will be led by Australian violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch, who has been a major figure in early music for some 30 years.
Wallfisch is one of eight new and returning guest conductors who will appear next season; Alain Trudel remains principal guest conductor and Giuseppe Pietraroia remains conductor-in-residence, though Brian Jackson, after opening the pops series in September, will retire after 17 seasons as principal pops conductor.
The 2012-13 new-music series, Explorations, will include an adventurous program in November built around the music of John Cage, whose centenary is being celebrated this year. This concert, conducted by Miller, will be the culmination of a multidisciplinary Cage festival - the only one of its kind in Canada - that will involve the university's School of Music and the art gallery. The Explorations series will be bookended by a Latin-music program (including two guitar concertos) and a tribute to Victoria's Chinatown (including the popular violin concerto The Butterfly Lovers, performed by Tam).
Single-ticket prices for 2012-13 have generally risen slightly; most now range between $35 and $80. (Tickets for the season's priciest show, a December pops concert featuring Canadian singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, are between $65 and $85.) Prices have also risen slightly for higher-end series subscriptions, more considerably for lower-end subscriptions; series prices for young people are unchanged or lower, however, and Explorations tickets ($15/$20) are a bargain.
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