Ambitious season on horizon for Philharmonic
'Firebird' kicks off season Oct. 8 at Embassy Theatre
Musical director Andrew Constantine and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra are launching their 2022-23 season, their most ambitious yet.
The season kicks off Oct. 8 with Firebird at Embassy Theatre at 7:30 p.m., as well as a 2 p.m. performance as part of the new Matinee Series.
The Pops Series will feature five productions and four chamber concerts featuring famous women composers. The Phil is also debuting the Stories in Music Series based on children’s books with three concerts, and, in April, they will present their Bach in the Barn production.
The Masterworks Concerts
Whatzup sat down with Constantine to talk about the main events, their seven Masterworks concerts at Embassy Theatre.
The British conductor made a name for himself in St. Petersburg, Russia, and England. These days, he is conductor not only for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, but also the Reading Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania. He conducts orchestras all over the U.S. and Europe and specializes across a broad range: works of living American composers, classic British and Russian composers, and orchestral music of Broadway, too.
With the support of patrons, the Philharmonic continues to fly in some of the finest soloists from around the world to perform with Constantine. We’ll list each concert, followed by comments from the maestro.
Opening Night: Firebird, Oct. 8 — Verdi’s overture to the opera La forza del destino; “Autumn” from The Seasons by Glazunov; Stravinsky’s suite from his ballet The Firebird; Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, featuring Paul Huang
According to Constantine, the theme is “the force of destiny, fate. The Verdi actually was premiered in St. Petersburg. Glazunov, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky were all products of late 19th century Russia, and fate dealt them very different hands.”
Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto is among the most famous of musical fireworks displays. “Paul Huang is a phenomenal violinist that I love working with.”
Carmina Burana, Oct. 29 — Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from his musical On the Town; the world premiere of Patrick O’Malley’s Concerto for Viola featuring Brett Deubner; Orff’s Carmina Burana, with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus, the Purdue Fort Wayne University Singers, and the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir
“O’Malley is a young man who was raised in Fort Wayne and is enjoying a very successful career. Brett Deubner is the most enterprising viola player I’ve ever come across. Carmina Burana is something that never fails to take the roof off, something that audiences love.”
As for the three choirs, “They’ve all been champing at the bit to sing. The pandemic has been pretty disastrous in terms of the effect it’s had on the chorus and their capacity to perform.”
It’s the perfect opportunity for the Philharmonic to encourage choral music in Fort Wayne.
Power and Passion, Jan. 28 — Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra; Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3, Yefim Bronfman, piano
Jennifer Higdon “is the most-performed living composer in the world. It’s an incredibly energetic work. It’s something the orchestra hasn’t played before, and it’s great to bring new material to them, to excite them, to enthuse them. Particularly when you’re contrasting it with something as familiar as Rachmaninov’s musical language.”
Bronfman is among the most in-demand pianists in the world. “I’ve never worked with him. That’s something I’m really looking forward to.”
Conductor’s Choice: Elgar and Beethoven, Feb. 18 — Elgar’s Falstaff; Beethoven’s Concerto in D major, Op. 61, Vadim Gluzman, violin
To Constantine, Elgar is the “greatest composer who ever lived. Falstaff was his finest piece. It’s phenomenally difficult to play.”
It’s a tone poem about the character from William Shakespeare’s Henry plays. Constantine puts his mark on it by bringing in actors to read Shakespeare’s lines between the movements. Ending on a quiet note, it’s paired with the rousing, soaring Beethoven.
“And then we have the phenomenal Vadim Gluzman, with many people’s favorite violin concerto.”
This Midnight Hour, March 11 — Ravel’s Concerto in G major, Orli Shaham, piano; Anna Clyne’s This Midnight Hour; Copland’s Symphony No. 3; guest conductor James Judd
“First is this magnificent piece by Anna Clyne,” from 2015. “Then the wonderful Orli Shaham on piano, and Copland’s third symphony, which is something I don’t think the orchestra has performed before. It’s colossal. There’s a grand reworking of the ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ in there, which I find much more interesting than the isolated ‘Fanfare’ we all know.”
Violins and Bandoneons: Latin Themes with guest conductor James Judd, April 1 — Ginastera’s Four Dances from Estancia, with the Fort Wayne Ballet; JP Jofre’s Double Concerto for Violin and Bandoneon No.2, with Violetta Todorova, violin and JP Jofre, bandoneon; Piazzolla’s Aconcagua: Concerto for Bandoneon; De Falla’s Suite No. 2 from El sombrero de tres picos
“Diversity and showing that the orchestra can be presented with musical language that represents folklore of different countries. We have the ballet excerpt at the beginning and the end.”
Argentinian composer Jofre “is such a phenomenal player, and he gives an opportunity as well for our wonderful concertmaster Violetta to shine. Everybody likes a good tango. Everybody loves Piazzolla. James Judd is a marvelous conductor, and he’s worked with the greatest orchestras in the world, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.”
Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, May 13 — Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 6; Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Ilya Yakushev, piano; Gershwin’s An American in Paris
“It’s full circle here,” Constantine said. “Prokofiev, trained in St. Petersburg,” left the U.S. in 1936 and “went back to Russia, made the big mistake. The symphony is not very long. It’s delicate and does not have a rousing ending. But I don’t want to leave anybody feeling less than energized when they leave the hall. And there’s nothing more energetic than An American in Paris. I’ve conducted it a number of times and everyone just goes crazy at the end of it. Ilya Yakushev is a friend of the orchestra. It’s a magnificent piece to close the season with.”
To learn all about their numerous concerts and season tickets, go to fwphil.org.