Arts & Events

Press Release: Berkeley Symphony Announces Next Season

From Jean Shirk
Friday April 15, 2016 - 02:55:00 PM

Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony today announced the concerts and programs for the 2016-17 season, including the world premiere of a new Berkeley Symphony commission by Paul Dresher; the West Coast premiere of James MacMillan’s new Symphony No. 4, a co-commission; and the Bay Area premiere of Mason Bates’ Cello Concerto, with Joshua Roman as soloist. The Orchestra will also perform Shostakovich’s epic Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar”, with bass Denis Sedov and alumni of choruses including the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus, the Pacific Boychoir Academy, and members of the St. John of San Francisco Russian Orthodox Chorale, led by Marika Kuzma. Shai Wosner is soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, and Philippe Quint performs Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto with the Orchestra. The Orchestra performs Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4. 


Well-established as a presenter of major contemporary orchestral works, Berkeley Symphony continues its steadfast commitment to presenting original and unique programs with new music commissioned by living composers, many of whom Berkeley Symphony has developed an ongoing creative and collaborative relationship. Berkeley Symphony’s 2016-17 season includes a new commissioned world premiere, a new co-commissioned West Coast premiere, and a new Bay Area premiere, alongside classic masterworks. Since its 1979-80 season, Berkeley Symphony has performed 64 world premieres, 28 U.S. premieres, and 21 West Coast premieres. In recognition of its leadership in commissioning and creating new music, the Orchestra has received the prestigious ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award in 10 of the past 13 seasons. 


In developing programming for Berkeley Symphony’s 2016-17 season, Music Director Joana Carneiro said: “We start with new music – relationships that we want to renew or that we want to start. It starts from the music of our time. Paul Dresher is certainly the first one who comes to mind – he is from Berkeley, and he is an iconic figure in our time. Mason Bates is another composer with local ties, and needs no introduction. I’ve looked forward to collaborating with him for a long time. And working with James MacMillan is something I’ve worked toward for a long time. Commissioning him has been a dream of mine, and I’m so pleased to be working on this co-commissioning project with two top institutions: the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony.” 


Berkeley Symphony opens the 2016-2017 season at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley on Thursday, October 13 at 7 pm, with Joana Carneiro leading the Orchestra in the world premiere of a new commissioned work by Paul Dresher. Dresher, a musical omnivore who incorporates global musical influences into his compositions, has been widely commissioned and has written experimental opera and music theater, chamber and orchestral compositions, and scores for theater, dance, and film. His 2012 Concerto for Quadrachord and Orchestra was premiered by the Orchestra under Carneiro; he invented the quadrachord, among other instruments. He has had a long and fruitful relationship with Berkeley Symphony, including commissioned performances of his new works, and has mentored young composers in its Under Construction program. Philippe Quint makes his debut with the Orchestra as soloist in Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto, his recording of which was nominated for a Grammy Award. Quint, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, has a special interest in reimagining traditional works, commissioning new music and rediscovering overlooked repertoire. The program also includes Stravinsky’s Petrushka


On Thursday, December 8 at 8 pm, Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony perform James MacMillan’s new Symphony No. 4, a Berkeley Symphony co-commission with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony. MacMillan, the preeminent Scottish composer of his generation, whom Carneiro calls “the foremost sacred music composer of our time,” has dedicated his newest work to Donald Runnicles, in honor of his 60th birthday. Runnicles led the world premiere performance of Symphony No. 4 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms in August 2015. The new MacMillan work, which “combines ritual drama with memories of Renaissance music,” is the first to bear the title of “symphony” in more than 10 years. Pianist Shai Wosner returns to Berkeley Symphony to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 on this program. Wosner, a native of Israeli who now lives in New York, is a recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant and was a student of Emanuel Ax’s at The Juilliard School. He has since performed with many of the world’s most distinguished orchestras, recorded three albums, commissioned new work from contemporary composers, and performed Schubert’s solo piano repertoire in recital. Recently, Wosner has been performing with violinist Jennifer Koh in a “Bridge to Beethoven” series, pairing Beethoven’s masterworks alongside contemporary pieces to illustrate the composer’s pervasive influence and lasting genius. 


The Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 on Thursday, January 26 at 8 pm. Cellist Joshua Roman makes his debut with the Orchestra as the soloist in Mason Bates’ Cello Concerto, which was written for Roman and premiered in 2014. Joshua Roman has earned an international reputation for his wide-ranging repertoire, a commitment to communicating the essence of music in visionary ways, artistic leadership and versatility. He is an accomplished composer, curator, and programmer in addition to a performer. In April 2016, he begins a residency with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and is Artistic Director of TownMusic at Town Hall Seattle and Artistic Advisor of Seattle’s Second Inversion. He was the principal cellist for the Seattle Symphony, a position he won at age 22. Recently, he performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, did a solo performance at TED2015, and premiered Dreamsongs, a cello concerto written for him by Aaron Jay Kernis. 


Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony conclude the 2016-2017 season on Thursday, May 4 at 8 pm at Zellerbach Hall with the evening-long, epic “Babi Yar”, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13. Carneiro leads the Orchestra, bass soloist Denis Sedov, and a men’s chorus including alumni from University of California at Berkeley’s Chamber Chorus and Pacific Boychoir Academy, and members of the St. John of San Francisco Russian Orthodox Chorale, led by chorusmaster Marika Kuzma. Kuzma was a member of the UC Berkeley music faculty for nearly 25 years, and led the university’s symphonic University Chorus and Chamber Chorus. Sedov, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, who holds a degree from the Jerusalem Academy, has performed with the San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others. “Babi Yar” (a reference to the site of the massacre of Russian Jews by German soldiers during World War II) is Shostakovich’s magnificent stand against anti-Semitism, including settings of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko. He is reported to have told one interviewer: “It would be good if Jews could live peacefully and happily in Russia, where they were born. But we must never forget about the dangers of anti-Semitism and keep reminding others of it, because the infection is still alive and who knows if it will ever disappear. That's why I was overjoyed when I read Yevtushenko's "Babi Yar"; the poem astounded me. It astounded thousands of people. Many had heard about Babi Yar, but it took Yevtushenko's poem to make them aware of it. They tried to destroy the memory of Babi Yar, first the Germans and then the Ukrainian government. But after Yevtushenko's poem, it became clear that it would never be forgotten. That is the power of art. People knew about Babi Yar before Yevtushenko's poem, but they were silent. And when they read the poem, the silence was broken. Art destroys silence.”