Nashville Symphony announces adventurous 2014-15 classical season

yoyoThe Nashville Symphony Orchestra will open its 2014-15 season with a rumble. Well, to be absolutely precise, the NSO will launch its new season with a movie about rumble, the classic 1961 film West Side StoryGiancarlo Guerrero and the NSO will provide live accompaniment to the film during their opening gala performances (Sept. 5-6).

The orchestra’s forthcoming season, announced Wednesday evening at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, will also feature several world-premiere performances, an expanded Coffee and Classics Series and the return of renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

“Yo-Yo has been a great friend to this orchestra,” says Guerrero, who will join Ma for a performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto on Oct. 1. “It’s a treat both for the orchestra and the audience to hear a musician of this caliber.”

In recent years, the NSO has gained national recognition as a leading champion of contemporary American music. The orchestra will continue to promote contemporary music next season, premiering new works by American composers Conni EllisorRichard Danielpour and  Michael Daugherty.

“The thing that excites me the most about next season is all the new American music we’re going to play,” says Alan Valentine, the NSO president and CEO. “This is original music that you won’t hear anywhere else.”

wootenFlecktones electric bassist Victor Wooten will premiere the first commission, a Bass Concerto written by Conni Ellisor (Sept. 18-20). Over the years, Ellisor has written numerous works that blend classical music with jazz, blues and folk music. One suspects she’ll write a “New Grass” concerto for Wooten.

World-renowned opera star Thomas Hampson will be on hand to premiere Danielpour’s Whitman Songs (March 12-14). Hampson was originally scheduled to perform a different Danielpour work – Songs of Solitude – with the NSO three years ago, but the program was canceled after the baritone became sick. Next season, Hampson will perform and record both Songs of Solitude and the Whitman songs for future release on the Franklin-based Naxos label.

Naxos and the NSO have both been lucky with Daugherty’s music. The orchestra’s 2009 Naxos recording of Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony won three Grammy Awards. Next season, the symphony will premiere Daugherty’s Cello Concerto with cellist Zuill Bailey (April 17-18), and it’s a good bet that piece will be a Grammy contender.

New music will abound at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center next season, but the masterworks of the repertoire will also get their due. For the past several years, Guerrero and the NSO have been surveying the complete orchestral works of Gustav Mahler. That sonic journey continues next season with a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 (Feb. 27-28).

“The Ninth was Mahler’s last completed symphony,” says Guerrero. “Mahler was saying goodbye to the world when he wrote it.”

olgaNext season will often feel like a veritable piano festival, given the number of great pianists coming to town. Piano virtuoso Olga Kern returns to Nashville to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1. (Oct. 2-4). She’ll warm up the NSO’s Steinway  for Jonathan Biss, who’s performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 (Nov. 20-22); Kiril Gerstein, who’s soloing in Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 “Age of Anxiety” (Feb. 5-7); and Emanuel Ax, who’s playing Strauss’ Burleske and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 (April 3-4).

Beethoven will get plenty of attention next season, with the NSO performing his Symphony No.7 (Jan. 8-10), Symphony No. 8 (Mar. 12-14) and Symphony No. 1 (April 17-18).

Other major works on the schedule include Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra (Nov. 7-8), Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” (Feb. 5-7), Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (April 30, May 1-2) and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (May 15-16).  The season ends with the NSO and Chorus performing Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem (May 29-30), an event marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s end.

Season tickets for the NSO’s 2014-15 season are available now. Subscription prices for the 2014/15 Aegis Sciences Classical Series start at $174 for a seven-concert package — which also includes free bonus concerts for both new and renewing subscribers.

For more information, call 687-6400 or click here. Tickets to individual concerts will go on sale in mid-July.

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About John Pitcher

John Pitcher is the chief classical music, jazz and dance critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He has been a classical music critic for the Washington Post, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, National Public Radio’s Performance Today (NPR), and the Nashville Scene. His writings about music and the arts have also appeared in Symphony Magazine, American Record Guide and Stagebill Magazine, among other publications. Pitcher earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied arts writing with Judith Crist and Phyllis Garland. His work has received the New York State Associated Press award for outstanding classical music criticism.


  1. I would like to correct one error in this piece. Victor Wooten and I are co-writing the concerto he will be performing with the orchestra. Victor is a phenomenal musician with much to bring to the table and I am honored and excited to be working with him. And don’t expect a hybrid- our intention is to create a unique addition to the classical repertoire.
    Conni Ellisor

  2. Hey Conni, thanks for letting us know.