In Part II of The Beat's annual Arts Season Preview, we focus what central Ohio arts "producers" have in store for the 2013-14 season.
It's a season of transition for BalletMet Columbus, which welcomes new Artistic Director Edwaard Liang; ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, with new maestro David Danzmayr in his first year on the podium; and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, which marks the final season for Jean-Marie Zeitouni serving as music director. For more from these three on these changes, read the BeatBlog. As far as on stage ...
• The 2013-14 Columbus Symphony Orchestra (columbussymphony.com) season is full of pieces that are near and dear to Zeitouni's heart (the special season-opening concert of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection" in October), composer John Estacio's ("a good friend who I'm excited to introduce to Columbus,") Brio, also in October; programs Zeitouni wishes he were conducting (May's Concerto Festival at the Southern Theatre); combination guest artist/friends of JMZ (soprano Susan Gritton, who joins the CSO and Chorus for Mozart's Requiem in April); and guest conductors from Zeitouni's native Canada (James Sommerville in November, Jacques Lacombe in February).
Continuing a theme under Zeitouni, who will lead his third and final full season, the programming has a heavy emphasis on repertoire, assembled thematically, and on audience engagement and education. Which is not to say there aren't gifted and exciting guest artists on tap as well, not the least of whom is old CSO friend Benedetto Lupo, a sometimes-collaborator with past CSO maestro Alessandro Siciliani.
"It's been a while (since Lupo played in Columbus), but I played the Ravel 'Left Hand' concerto with him and we had a great time. I told him, 'We gotta do this in Columbus,' " Zeitouni said. Which they will, in January.
The Pops season opens in November with vocal group The Midtown Men and includes a return visit from past CSO pops conductor Peter Nero in February.
• It will be the season's final program in April and May, New Directions/New Works, when the full effect of Liang's artistic vision is cast on the BalletMet Columbus (balletmet.org) stage.
It's not like the company's new artistic director is sitting on his hands until then, though, what with the collaboration with Cincinnati Ballet on the season opening Swan Lake in October ("Such a massive amount of dancers. Working together, we can do it in a way we couldn't do by ourselves," Liang said) through the James Kudelka The Four Seasons concert in November, The Nutcracker in December, the glorious Alice in Wonderland in February and Balanchine's Symphony in C in March, the season will bear Liang's imprint.
"You'll definitely see my aesthetic, how I like to challenge dancers, to coach dancers," Liang told The Beat.
The 2013-14 season also includes a special program with the Columbus Gay Men's Chorus in March.
• The Beat got the sense that new ProMusica Chamber Orchestra (promusicacolumbus.org) Music Director Danzmayr couldn't wait to get started. The orchestra's season-opening concert in October includes the piece Three Places in New England by American composer Charles Ives and Schubert's Symphony No. 5.
"The Ives is one of my favorite pieces of American music. I've always wanted to do it, but it's difficult to program, (because) you absolutely need a good orchestra to do it," he said by way of explanation and as a compliment to ProMusica's players.
The Schubert, he said, is the first in what will be a complete cycle of his symphonies to be performed over the upcoming seasons.
The season also marks the start of an artistic relationship between ProMusica and violinist Vadim Gluzman in his role as creative partner and principal guest artist. Founder and
Conductor Laureate Timothy Russell returns to lead a varied program in January. April concerts feature composer-pianist Lera Auerbach in a new initiative showcasing composers as also active musicians.
• Jazz singer Molly Ringwald is among the featured guest artists on the Columbus Jazz Orchestra's (jazzartsgroup.org) 2013-14 season lineup. Yes, that Molly Ringwald, the one who grew up with a jazz-musician father and who was singing on stage before she was acting. Not that the show is receiving undue attention, mind you, but The Beat asked Music Director Byron Stripling for a some thoughts on shows he wanted to make sure don't get overlooked.
Stripling pointed to two young trumpet players: Bria Skonberg, who joins the CJO for March concerts paying tribute to the great Benny Goodman ("She plays trumpet and sings. She is tearing up New York. And she's nice to look at," Stripling said); and Cleveland Jazz Orchestra Artistic Director Sean Jones, who will be part of the "Trumpet Summit" concerts in April ("He is simply an amazing musician.")
"People might not have heard of these two, but they are going to be blown away," Stripling concluded.
The season opens in October with a program that combines the music of Dave Brubeck and Burt Bacharach – concerts Stripling acknowledged audiences might not initially "get."
Besides both being artists with whom Stripling has worked, he said there are two other factors at work. First, the opportunity to "push the envelope and not be scared of pop music," but also the opportunity to welcome back arranger/composer John Clayton, who arranged a record of Bacharach tunes for jazz pianist McCoy Tyner.
• It's a subtle but significant change in perception that CATCO (catcoistheatre.org) is trying to affect.
"Our goal is for people not to ask if CATCO is doing something, but what are they doing," Producing Director Steven C. Anderson told The Beat.
What CATCO is doing this season includes getting a jump on the whole thing, having included two of three summer musicals as part of the 2013-14 season. Next up: Fully Committed in November, a one-man comedy that chronicles an out-of-work actor who mans the reservation line at an extremely popular restaurant. The season also includes the true-hoax-story-inspired Shipwrecked! – The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself) (February); Steel Magnolias (March-April); and the song-filled Always ... Patsy Cline (May-June).
CATCO is Kids' season includes a new partnership with the Columbus Metropolitan Library for Anderson's adaptation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (October) and the March world premiere of a new Anderson piece, The Wolf Tales, involving fairy tales that feature wolves.
• After wading back into the locally produced opera waters last season with the co-produced (with Shadowbox Live) La Boheme last season, Opera Columbus (operacolumbus.org) dives in the deep end this year with Madama Butterfly in November.
"This is three years in coming," Director of Artistic and Educational Programming Peggy Kriha Dye told The Beat, in reference to the major restructuring of the company that took it, temporarily, out of the production business. Next season, she said, will be all produced in-house, so this is "a first step."
Butterfly is part of a collaborative effort with the opera program at Ohio State University. Opera Columbus is again collaborating on a show with Shadowbox Live (The Merry Widow, starting in October) and works with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra for "Carmen in Concert" in May. Opera Columbus will continue its relationship with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, bringing Pirates of Penzance in March.