Muskegon, Michigan, June 1, 2015, — West Michigan Symphony’s 2015-16 concert series highlights an exciting lineup of classic and contemporary music and guest artists, plus a special engagement of the musical-comedy duo, Igudesman and Joo.
The West Michigan Symphony and Music Director Scott Speck will open the season with Chinese Pipa virtuoso Wu Man, playing a brand new musical composition by Zhou Jiping, commissioned in part by the Symphony.
Of the season, Music Director Scott Speck commented, “After our stellar 75th anniversary season, we’ve decided to up the ante. In 2015-16 we welcome such world-renowned soloists as Philippe Quint, Conrad Tao and Marcus Roberts; perform symphonies by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff; and present the new music of four exciting composers of today, including two pieces that we co-commissioned ourselves! In many ways this is our most ambitious season to date.”
Highlights of the Pops season include the annual holiday concert with Diane Penning and Paul Langford, an evening of Broadway hits with the Gentleman of Broadway and an appearance by international recording artist Cathie Ryan and her band, joining the Symphony for an evening of traditional tunes from the Emerald Isle.
The series features five Masterworks concerts and three Pops performances and wraps up May 20, 2016, with the Marcus Roberts trio. The 8-concert regular season is:
• East Meets West (Masterworks) – Oct. 2. East meets West in a season opener of musical gems from three continents, beginning with “Apotheosis” from Journey, a creation from the Grammy-nominated American composer Austin Wintory. Then, Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man plays Zhou Jiping’s Concerto no. 2 and the concert closes with the exciting Second Symphony from Rachmaninoff.
• American Music: Old and New (Masterworks) – Nov. 6. This concert presents the best of American music old and new starting with Leonard Bernstein’s overture to “West Side Story.” WMS Principal Clarinetist Jonathan Holden lends his virtuosic flair to the Clarinet Concerto by American composer Aaron Copland. The Overture to “The School for Scandal” by Samuel Barber and the space-age composition, “Mothership,” by Mason Bates round out the program.
• Holiday Pops (Pops) – Dec. 11. West Michigan Symphony and Music Director Scott Speck welcome back soprano Diane Penning, and this time she’s bringing a friend; the noted pianist and vocalist Paul Langford. Joined by the WMS Children’s Choir, audiences will enjoy a heartwarming mix of classic and modern holiday favorites.
• Luck of the Irish (Pops) – Jan. 15. Enjoy a little luck of the Irish with international recording artist and former lead singer of Cherish the Ladies, Cathie Ryan, as she warms up West Michigan with heartfelt lyrics, beloved ballads and traditional tunes of the Emerald Isle. Cathie Ryan and her band will provide a spirit-lifting evening of Irish music with guest conductor Andrew Koehler and the West Michigan Symphony orchestra.
• Viva Italia! (Masterworks) – Feb. 5. In what is regarded as one of the greatest violin concertos of all time, Philippe Quint performs Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. Also, the Symphony presents Felix Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, self-described as “the jolliest piece I have ever done.”
• Beethoven and Blue Jeans (Masterworks) – March 4. WMS tackles Beethoven’s astonishing First Symphony, and then it proudly presents a New Music for America commission from Christopher Theofanidis. Finally, prodigy Conrad Tao scales the heights of a pianistic Mount Everest with Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1.
• Gentlemen of Broadway (Pops) – April 15. Scott Speck conducts an all-star Broadway cast, heating up the stage with an evening of sizzling show tunes. Having performed in musical blockbusters such as Porgy and Bess, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, and Les Misérables, these gentlemen join West Michigan Symphony for an evening featuring favorite songs from “The Great White Way.”
• A Study of Contrasts (Masterworks) – May 20. Two composers, two contrasting visions. Peter Tchaikovsky pours out his soul in searing, passionate and triumphant expression. George Gershwin creates a combustive fusion of popular and classical idioms. Hailed as “the genius of the modern piano,” Marcus Roberts brings real-time improvisation to his special arrangement of Gershwin’s work.
Also, Oct. 16, the Symphony will present a special engagement from the performance duo Igudesman & Joo with their concert, “And Now Mozart.” Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo are classical musicians who have taken the world by storm with their unique and hilarious theatrical shows, which combine comedy with classical music and popular culture. This production is a special event. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased as an addition to regular season packages.
“The best way to capture the entire 2015-16 season is to invest in a season ticket,” Natalie Carmolli, WMS Director of Marketing said. “Subscribers return to the same seats for each concert and forge friendships with the subscribers who sit near them.” She added, “Whether you’re a subscriber or single ticket holder, those who attend WMS concerts say what they love most is that they can escape their busy schedules, relax and enjoy great music in the company of friends.”
Full season tickets for adults start at $138, $80 for masterworks, and $58 for pops, with special tickets prices for students. Tickets are exchangeable, some require a small fee. Single tickets go on sale in June.
Performances are Fridays at 7:30 p.m. at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Muskegon.
West Michigan Symphony is a professional regional orchestra. With eight performances annually at the Frauenthal Theater, a full season of guest artist performances at The Block, and dozens of educational and outreach activities, WMS has played a leading role in the region’s cultural community for over 75 years. For more information, visit westmichigansymphony.org.