For its 2014-15 season, Stamford Symphony’s opening concerts Oct. 18-19 are especially exciting.
Conductor Eckart Preu (pronounced Proy) has chosen one of the premier cellists of the world, Zuill Bailey, to perform Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, plus Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, “an optimistic, joyful symphony, written when Brahms was particularly happy,” said Mr. Preu. “We’ll also have a surprise opening, a new, provocative piece by Andrew Norman, inspired by a metal sculpture, according to the composer. So we’ll have a chance to hear how metal sounds!”
This is Mr. Preu’s 10th season with the symphony. “I like to balance the music of each concert with the classics as well as more contemporary music. It’s a stimulating contrast for the audience. The contemporary music is new and refreshing, but also accessible and enjoyable, even for pure classicists. I want each concert to have the music that was listened to years ago and the music that will shape the future for the next generation.”
The Stamford Symphony is the only totally professional ensemble in the area. Orchestra members have played at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, with the American Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera, New York Pops, New York City Ballet and more. Guest soloists are celebrated musicians who come to Stamford to play with a symphony orchestra called a “cultural force” by The New York Times.
It’s wonderful to observe how Mr. Preu’s conducting seems to inspire each member of the orchestra. He plans each concert carefully. “First, I think of the big pieces, symphonies of great substance that have not become overplayed. Then, I Iook for great soloists. For the season’s opening concert, we have one of the finest cellists in the world, Zuill Bailey. I’ve always wanted to do Brahms’ Symphony No. 2. It’s a wonderfully jubilant piece.”
Barbara Soroca has been the symphony’s CEO and director for 35 years. She has seen the orchestra grow and develop into a rare assemblage of talent. “Our subscribers and those just discovering the orchestra realize that there’s a major symphony that brings the highest level of performance nearby. There’s no longer a need to travel to New York City to hear great music. We are so proud to be the only fully professional ensemble in the area. We hope we make more people appreciate classical music.”
An hour before every concert, Mr. Preu greets the audience and previews the program, gives some history about the music and composers, and introduces
the guest artist to the audience, all of which makes listening to the concert more meaningful. On Sunday matinees, the pre-concert talk, “MusiKids,” gives children a heads-up about the music, engaging them, encouraging questions and having them meet the soloist. Leah Potteiger, a music educator, presents this treat. (There is no charge for children on Sundays.)
Concerts are held in the venerable Palace Theater, 61 Atlantic Street, which has been thoroughly restored to its original elegance, providing wonderful space and excellent acoustics. This season, the December concert, Handel’s Messiah, will be performed at Stamford’s Basilica of St. John the Evangelist.
This is the schedule for the 2014-15 season; Saturday evening concerts are at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees at 3 p.m.:
Oct. 18 and 19: opening weekend: Dvorak, Brahms, Norman: cellist Zuill Bailey.
Nov. 15 and 16: Tchaikovsky, Sibelius: violin soloist Ilya Kaler.
Dec. 6: Handel’s Messiah: New York Virtuoso Singers at St. John the Evangelist Basilica.
Jan. 31: Garrick Ohlsson piano recital.
Feb. 14 and 15: Beethoven, Mozart & Rossini: pianist Stephen Hough.
March 14 and 15: Mozart Requiem: the Greenwich Choral Society.
April 25 and 26: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms: piano soloist Helene Grimaud.
Stamford Symphony at the Palace Theater, 61 Atlantic St Stamford.
For subscriptions, call 203-325-1407, Ext. 10.
Single tickets are available at the box office: 203-325-4466 and via the web at stamfordsymphony.org