Renée Fleming, Ben Folds, Vince Gill and Amy Grant headline newly announced Nashville Symphony Season

giancarlonewNashville will be awash in great music next season, courtesy of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. The NSO’s 2013-14 season, which is being announced today, will include an opening gala with soprano Renée Fleming and the world premiere of a new piano concerto by pop star Ben Folds.

AmyVinceIn what will likely be remembered as the coup of the season, the NSO has talked singers Amy Grant and Vince Gill into moving their wildly popular Christmas show from the Ryman Auditorium to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center this December. A strong lineup of pop and soul superstars – including Chicago, Kenny Loggins and Roberta Flack – will also grace the Schermerhorn stage as part of the orchestra’s revved-up pops series.

“I think our Nashville audience will see that our new season is as exciting and adventurous as ever,” says NSO music director Giancarlo Guerrero.

The announcement of the new season comes at a crucial and difficult time for the city’s largest performing arts group. Last week, NSO board chairman Edward Goodrich and CEO Alan Valentine sent a note to patrons indicating the orchestra would not renew a letter of credit that supports $100 million in debt obligations. Those funds had been used to construct the orchestra’s acoustically marvelous Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Citing an unsustainable debt that was exacerbated by the 2008 recession and the 2010 flood, the NSO took the action in the hopes of renegotiating the amount it will owe to the banks. The move is part of a comprehensive financial restructuring that has also spilled over to the NSO’s schedule and programming.

In an effort to cut costs and maximize revenue, the NSO will eliminate seven of its Thursday night classical concerts next season. According to Valentine, attendance at many of the Thursday night concerts had been disappointing. The NSO, however, will partially offset those cuts with the addition of a new Coffee and Classical series, which next season will offer three abridged classical concerts on Friday mornings.

There will be no cuts to next season’s pops series, which will feature higher profile acts in the hopes of attracting more people.

As Guerrero said, the quality of next season’s programming will be as strong as ever. The orchestra’s steadfast commitment to contemporary American music will also remain unchanged.

reneeOn the classical side, three concerts in particular deserve special mention. The first is soprano Renée Fleming’s opening gala with Guerrero on Sept. 21. The Metropolitan Opera’s reigning diva, Fleming is justly famous for her sensuous lyric soprano. Her program has yet to be announced, but if we’re lucky we’ll hear her sing some of her specialties – arias from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” Massenet’s “Thaïs” and Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier.”

BenFoldsBen Folds will present the world premiere of his new piano concerto March 13-15, 2014. A longtime friend of the NSO who serves on the orchestra’s board of directors, Folds is an unknown entity as a classical composer. That said, the NSO is co-commissioning the concerto with the Nashville Ballet, which bodes well for the new piece. Nashville’s arts organizations always seem to be at their best when they do collaborative work.

The climax of the classical series will come at the end, when the NSO celebrates the Nashville Symphony Chorus’ 50th anniversary with a performance of Brahms’ “A German Requiem” on May 29-31, 2014. The chorus’ longtime director, George Mabry, retired at the end of 2011. Guerrero says Mabry’s replacement should be in place in time for the chorus to perform Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 1 “A Sea Symphony” on Oct. 25 and 26.

The NSO is currently recording a new CD on the Naxos label featuring the music of the terrific Minnesota-based composer Stephen Paulus. Guerrero and the orchestra will perform Paulus’ Grand Organ Concerto with organist Nathan Lube on Oct. 4 and 5.

Guerrero and the orchestra will be lavishing attention on American composer Joan Tower next season. The NSO won its first three Grammy Awards for its recording of Tower’s “Made in America.” To mark the composer’s 75-birthday, the NSO will play her “Chamber Dance” on Oct. 4 and 5 and her Violin Concerto (with violinist Cho-Liang Lin) on Nov. 21-23.

Gustav Mahler will also get his due next season. Guerrero and the NSO are currently in the midst of a multi-year survey of Mahler’s complete orchestral music. He’ll conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 on Jan. 10 and 11.

Ticket prices have been a concern for many symphony fans. The NSO will essentially be holding the line on prices next season, with classical seats starting at $29. Individual tickets will go on sale in mid-July. Once again, the NSO will also offer free parking at LP Field, and patrons can either catch a $3 shuttle or walk across the pedestrian bridge.

Subscription and ticketing information

Season tickets are available now. Prices start at:

  • $160 for the SunTrust Classical Series (6 to 14 concerts)
  • $88 for the Coffee & Classics Series (3 concerts)
  • $330 for the Bank of America Pops Series (8 concerts)
  • $130 for the Jazz Series (3 concerts)
  • $50 for The Ann & Monroe Carell Family Trust Pied Piper Children’s Series (4 concerts).

For more information or to subscribe, please call 615.687.6400 or visit Tickets to individual concerts will go on sale in mid-July.



Russian Spectacular

September 5, 6 & 7, 2013

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Joyce Yang, piano

Mussorgsky – Night on Bald Mountain

Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. 3

Shostakovich – Symphony No. 5

Hear some of the most incredible music ever written, starting with Mussorgsky’s musical thrill ride Night on Bald Mountain, featured in the Disney classic Fantasia. From start to finish, it’s an evening of passion and drama, with Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto shooting off jaw-dropping keyboard fireworks and Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony capturing the victorious, soul-searching spirit of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.

Copland’s Billy the Kid

October 4 & 5, 2013

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Nathan Laube, organ

Jun Iwasaki, violin

Joan Tower – Chamber Dance

Stephen Paulus – Grand Organ Concerto

Bruch – Concerto for Violin No. 2

Copland – Billy the Kid Suite

Take a trip to the wild, wild West with Copland’s Billy the Kid, a musical portrait of the legendary outlaw set against the backdrop of wide-open prairies and the raucous American frontier. Bruch’s gorgeous Second Violin Concerto will transport you to another world entirely, with soaring, luxuriant melodies performed by our very own concertmaster, Jun Iwasaki. We’ll also pay tribute to two contemporary American originals, Joan Tower and Stephen Paulus, whose music will be recorded for an upcoming Nashville Symphony release.

Dueling Pianos

October 25 & 26, 2013

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Christina and Michelle Naughton, piano duo

Kelly Nassief, soprano

Russell Braun, baritone

Nashville Symphony Chorus

Beethoven – Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage

Poulenc – Concerto for Two Pianos

Vaughan Williams – Symphony No. 1 “A Sea Symphony”

Lawrence S. Levine Memorial Concert

Sibling pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton are electrifying performers, and they’ll leave you in awe when they tackle Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos. This riotous extravaganza includes everything from circus tunes to café jazz to music inspired by Mozart, with passages of blistering intensity and moments of serene calm. We’ll also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Nashville Symphony Chorus with two aquatic-themed pieces. Beethoven’s rarely performed masterwork Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage will conjure the feel of sea breezes and salty air, and Vaughan Williams’ rousing A Sea Symphony will bring Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass brilliantly to life.

Stravinsky’s Firebird

November 7, 8 & 9, 2013

Gilbert Varga, conductor

Gabriela Montero, piano

Mendelssohn – Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture

Schumann – Piano Concerto

Dvořák – Scherzo Capriccioso

Stravinsky – Firebird Suite (1919 Version)

A magical night! Stravinsky’s dazzling adaptation of the Russian folk tale Firebird is bursting with some of the most astounding music ever written for orchestra. Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture continues the fairy tale theme, with lush, dreamy music inspired by Shakespeare’s beloved comedy. In between are two more masterpieces — Schumann’s sparkling Piano Concerto and Dvořák’s vibrant, lilting Scherzo Capriccioso.

Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony

November 21, 22 & 23, 2013

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Cho-Liang Lin, violin

Joan Tower – Stroke

Joan Tower – Violin Concerto

Beethoven – Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”

Epic! Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony changed the way people think about music, and it sounds every bit as mind-blowing today as it did 200 years ago. This monumental piece is full of power and intensity — and you haven’t truly heard the Eroica until you’ve experienced it in the crystalline acoustics of Schermerhorn Symphony Center. We’ll also feature two other two “towering” achievements — recent works by American composer Joan Tower, whose remarkable music earned the Nashville Symphony its first-ever GRAMMY® Awards in 2008.

Mahler’s Song of the Night

January 10 & 11, 2014

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Julie Albers, cello

Herbert – Cello Concerto No. 2

Mahler – Symphony No. 7

Big, bold and breathtaking, Mahler’s Seventh Symphony is part of the Austrian composer’s quest to capture the full scope of human experience in music. Powerful and dramatic, the piece moves from struggle to triumph, with a glittering array of sounds throughout. From the opening horn call to the blazing finale, this is music that takes you on an amazing journey, with vivid sounds ranging from cowbells and birdcalls to the plucking of guitar and mandolin.

Ravel & Saint-Saëns

February 7 & 8, 2014

Roberto Abbado, conductor

Conrad Tao, piano

Rossini – Semiramide Overture

Ravel – Piano Concerto in G major

Saint-Saëns – Symphony No. 3 “Organ Symphony”

Ravel’s Piano Concerto will transform the Schermerhorn into a lively Parisian cabaret, with dizzying flights of fancy and some of the loveliest music of the composer’s career. After that, the colossal sound of our Martin Foundation Concert Organ will fill the concert hall in Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony, with notes so powerful that you’ll literally feel your seat shaking!

Haydn & Strauss

February 28 & March 1, 2014

Carlos Kalmar, conductor

Arnaldo Cohen, piano

Piston – Toccata for Orchestra

Haydn – Symphony No. 98

de Falla – Nights in the Gardens of Spain

Richard Strauss – Rosenkavalier Suite

Strauss’ Rosenkavalier was a massive hit when it was first performed a century ago. Hear why when the Nashville Symphony performs this rapturously beautiful piece, full of lush orchestration, lilting waltzes and voluptuous melodies. De Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain is dark and mysterious, evoking the sensuous sound of flamenco guitars.

Ben Folds’ Piano Concerto

March 13, 14 & 15, 2014

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Ben Folds, piano

Wagner – Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde

Bartók – Miraculous Mandarin Suite

Rossini – William Tell Overture

Ben Folds – Piano Concerto (World Premiere)

Be one of the very first to hear pop icon Ben Folds premiere his brand-new piano concerto, co-commissioned by the Nashville Symphony. He’ll bring his knack for memorable melodies and sophisticated musicianship to the stunning sound of a full symphony orchestra. The William Tell Overture — best known as the theme of The Lone Ranger — will add to the fun, while Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde will show off the exceptional musicians in our GRAMMY®-winning orchestra.

Sibelius & Elgar

March 27, 28 & 29, 2014

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

James Ehnes, Violin

Sibelius – Symphony No. 1

Elgar – Concerto for Violin

Experience a night of passion and romance with Elgar’s Concerto for Violin, a radiant piece overflowing with emotion. The composer dedicated the piece to his secret love, and it calls for some of the most jaw-dropping violin technique in the classical repertoire. Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero calls Sibelius one of classical music’s greatest composers, and his First Symphony is expansive, deeply personal and utterly captivating.

Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto

April 18 & 19, 2014

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Jeremy Denk, piano

Berlioz – Le Corsaire Overture

Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 3

Richard Strauss – Ein Heldenleben

A night of heroic musical exploits! Big, bold and beautiful, Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto was a turning point in the composer’s brilliant career. Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben translates as “A Hero’s Life,” and the piece is a vivid musical portrait of the composer himself, an orchestral showpiece glowing with ambition and emotion.

Rock Me Amadeus

April 25 & 26, 2014

Bernard Labadie, conductor

Benedetto Lupo, piano

Mozart – Symphony No. 25

Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 21

Mozart – Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter”

The Nashville Symphony pays tribute to one of the greatest geniuses in the history of music! Mozart expert Bernard Labadie leads a program that explores three different periods of the composer’s life. Symphony No. 25 is an early triumph revealing Mozart’s unparalleled originality, while his Piano Concerto No. 21 was written at the height of his career success. His final symphony, the Jupiter, is downright majestic, with an awe-inspiring finale that will leave you breathless.

Classical Sax with Branford Marsalis

May 15, 16 & 17, 2014

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Branford Marsalis, saxophone

Adams – City Noir

Villa-Lobos – Fantasia for Saxophone

Williams – Escapades

Gershwin – An American in Paris

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis joins the Nashville Symphony for a dynamic program featuring John Williams’ Escapades, a jazzy piece based on the composer’s music for the hit film Catch Me If You Can. Marsalis will also show off his astonishing soprano sax skills on Villa Lobos’ charming and lyrical Fantasia. George Gershwin’s bustling An American in Paris closes the evening with music that captures all the excitement and romance of life in the big city.

Brahms’ Requiem

Nashville Symphony Chorus 50th Anniversary Celebration

May 29, 30 & 31, 2014

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Nicole Cabell, soprano

Stephen Powell, baritone

Nashville Symphony Chorus

Bernstein – Chichester Psalms

Barber – Knoxville, Summer of 1915

Brahms – A German Requiem

The Nashville Symphony celebrates the sound of the human voice with a powerful program featuring the Nashville Symphony Chorus in Brahms’ soul-stirring masterpiece A German Requiem. Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 is a hauntingly gorgeous evocation of writer James Agee’s small-town childhood, while Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms is the great American composer’s moving response to the chaos of the modern world: “to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”


Season Opening Gala with Renée Fleming

September 21, 2013

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Renée Fleming, soprano

One of the most beloved vocalists of our time makes a special one-night-only appearance with the Nashville Symphony. The celebrated “People’s Diva” will sing some of opera’s best-known arias and some of her personal favorites. A night of music and magic you won’t want to miss!

Handel’s Messiah

December 12 & 13, 2013

Don’t miss this treasured annual tradition when the Nashville Symphony and Chorus perform Handel’s Messiah! There’s a reason this Baroque-era masterpiece has become a seasonal favorite. It’s one of the most inspiring pieces of music ever written — and there’s no better place to hear it than at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Christmas with Amy Grant & Vince Gill

December 19, 20 & 21, 2013

The Christmas event of the season! Amy Grant and Vince Gill will light the Schermerhorn with cheer and goodwill when they perform their beloved holiday show with the Nashville Symphony. Come celebrate with classic tunes, gospel hymns and a joyous night of great music!

Valentine’s concert (TBA)

February 14 & 15, 2014


Join the Nashville Symphony for a daytime concert and enjoy FREE coffee and pastries!

All performances are at 10:30 a.m. on Fridays.

Three concerts starting at $88 per person!

Copland’s Billy the Kid

October 4, 2013

Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor

Nathan Laube, organ

Stephen Paulus – Grand Organ Concerto

Copland – Billy the Kid Suite

Take a trip to the wild, wild West with Copland’s Billy the Kid, a musical portrait of the legendary outlaw set against the backdrop of wide-open prairies and the raucous American frontier. We’ll also pay tribute to two contemporary American originals, Joan Tower and Stephen Paulus, whose music will be recorded for an upcoming Nashville Symphony release.

Haydn & Strauss

February 28, 2014

Carlos Kalmar, conductor

Arnaldo Cohen, piano

Haydn – Symphony No. 98

Strauss – Rosenkavalier Suite

Strauss’ Rosenkavalier was a massive hit when it was first performed a century ago. Hear why when the Nashville Symphony performs this rapturously beautiful piece, full of lush orchestration, lilting waltzes and voluptuous melodies. Haydn’s big and bold Symphony No. 98 is one of the composer’s beloved “London Symphonies,” written during a burst of creative inspiration.

Mozart Masterpieces

April 25, 2014

Bernard Labadie, conductor

Benedetto Lupo, piano

Mozart – Symphony No. 25

Mozart – Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter”

The Nashville Symphony pays tribute to one of the greatest geniuses in the history of music! Mozart expert Bernard Labadie leads a program that explores two different periods of the composer’s life. Symphony No. 25 is an early triumph revealing Mozart’s unparalleled originality, while his final symphony, the Jupiter, is downright majestic, with an awe-inspiring finale that will leave you breathless.



September 12, 13 & 14, 2013

It’ll be an epic night packed with hits when one the longest-running groups in rock history joins the Nashville Symphony! Beginning with 1970’s “Make Me Smile,” Chicago has enjoyed an incredible string of 21 Top 20 singles, including “Saturday in the Park,” “If You Leave Me Now” and “You’re the Inspiration.” They’re the first American band to chart Top 40 albums in five consecutive decades and Billboard‘s highest charting American band of all time.

To Be Announced

October 31, November 1 & 2, 2013

A Tribute to Patsy Cline with Mandy Barnett

November 14, 15 & 16, 2013

Celebrate the life and music of country legend Patsy Cline when stunning vocalist Mandy Barnett joins the Nashville Symphony. Barnett portrayed the singer in multiple sold-out runs of the stage show Always…Patsy Cline — and when you listen to her perform “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces” and “Walkin’ After Midnight,” you’ll swear you’re hearing Patsy Cline herself!

Roberta Flack

January 16, 17 & 18, 2014

One of America’s greatest songstresses will bring her gorgeous voice and her incomparable blend of soul, jazz, pop and folk to the Nashville Symphony. With her unforgettable run of hits, including “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” “Tonight I Celebrate My Love” and many more, Flack remains unparalleled in her ability to tell a story through music, sharing insights into our lives and loves.

Classical Mystery Tour

February 20, 21 & 22, 2014

It’s the best of The Beatles like you’ve never heard them: totally live, with the Nashville Symphony! The four musicians in Classical Mystery Tour look and sound just like John, Paul, George and Ringo, and they’ll perform 30 Beatles tunes exactly as they were written. Hear “Penny Lane” with a live trumpet section, “Yesterday” with an acoustic guitar and string quartet, and “A Day in the Life” with the swelling sound of a full symphony orchestra!

Kenny Loggins

Nashville Symphony

Matt Catingub, conductor

March 20, 21 & 22, 2014

With enduring hits like “Whenever I Call You Friend,” “This Is It,” “I’m Alright” and “Footloose,” Kenny Loggins created the soundtrack for a generation. Still at the height of his powers, he remains a brilliant singer-songwriter and guitarist, with an unquenchable passion for music. Get ready for a magical night when he joins the Nashville Symphony to sing his soulful songs straight from the heart!

The Midtown Men

April 3, 4 & 5, 2014

They took Broadway by storm as the stars of the smash musical Jersey Boys, and now these four brilliant performers are together again! When they join the Nashville Symphony, The Midtown Men will perform some of your favorite ’60s classics by The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, Motown and much more. This sensational production is a one-of-a-kind concert experience, with top-shelf choreography, note-perfect harmonies and dynamic onstage chemistry.

Neil Sedaka

May 8, 9 & 10, 2014

A certifiable pop music legend, Neil Sedaka has written some of the most memorable pop songs ever recorded, from “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” to “Laughter in the Rain” to “Love Will Keep Us Together.” He’ll pull out these tunes and many more from his extraordinary career when he joins the Nashville Symphony for an enchanting night of music and memories.


Chris Botti

October 18, 2013

The world’s best-selling jazz instrumentalist returns to the Schermerhorn for what promises to be a sold-out one-night-only performance! A magnetic stage presence and an incomparable musician, Botti will bring his signature blend of jazz improvisation and classic tunes from the Great American Songbook and beyond.

Marcus Roberts Trio

Celebrates Monk & Coltrane

January 31, 2014

Hear some of the greatest jazz songs ever written — from “Straight, No Chaser” to “Giant Steps” — when the phenomenal Marcus Roberts and his trio pay tribute to two legendary musicians: Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. Roberts has been called “the genius of the modern piano” by no less an authority than Wynton Marsalis. This is one concert jazz fans won’t want to miss!

Dianne Reeves

May 2, 2014

No singer knows her way around a jazz tune like Dianne Reeves does. With her distinctive jazz and R&B stylings, the four-time GRAMMY® winner is one of music’s most gifted vocalists, unrivaled in her ability to interpret old and new standards alike. She’ll perform a mix of originals and classics, all wrapped in her dazzling voice.



Peter and the Wolf

November 16, 2013

Introduce your children to the orchestra when the Nashville Symphony performs Prokofiev’s celebrated masterpiece, along with other animal-themed classics! The gifted performers of Nashville Public Library’s Wishing Chair Productions will help bring the story of Peter and the Wolf to life with their enchanting puppets.

The Snowman

December 7, 2013

The Nashville Symphony brings Raymond Briggs’ classic winter tale The Snowman to life with music by composer Howard Black and a screening of the animated film. We’ll also celebrate the season with some holiday favorites!

Knights & Princesses

February 22, 2014

Take musical tour through the magical world of fairy tales with music by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and much, much more. There will be lots of onstage excitement, courtesy of the lively juggling troupe Playing by Air!

The Firebird

April 5, 2014

Using puppets, masks and magic, Enchantment Theatre Company presents the classic Russian folk tale of The Firebird. Featuring Stravinsky’s dazzling music, this performance will captivate young and old alike!

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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.