With artistic director Harvey Felder stepping down at the end of the 2013/14 season, the next season for the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra includes more than just music. Two of the performances will be auditions, conducted by two of the four finalists for the directorial position. The other two finalists will conduct in the following season. The season as a whole also covers a lot more musical ground than usual, ranging from standard classical composers like Beethoven and Debussy to contemporary composers (including Tacoma’s Alexandra Bryant), a double bass concerto and a night of music from popular video games.
The standard rep concerts are in themselves interesting: The season opener features Debussy’s swishy symphonic poem “La Mer” and Leon Bates playing Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, plus Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture.” Later concerts include Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnol” with violinist Janet Sung plus Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony; the usual Sounds of the Season and “Messiah” programs, a Pops show with pianist Rich Ridenour and a mixed chorus concert.
But then things start to get interesting. The February concert puts double bassist Chris Burns in the spotlight with Nino Rota’s quirky “Divertimento Concertante” alongside Steven Smith’s “Kataklysmos,” and the May show includes “Strange Attractors” by young Tacoma composer Alexandra Bryant. Both concerts will be conducted by two of the finalists for the director’s position, with the main work chosen by that candidate. Other contemporary composers in the season include Derek Bermel and Roger Zare.
From the press release: “As challenging as it is for composers to find orchestras to premiere their music, getting a new piece performed again – after the excitement and cachet of the world premiere is past – can be even harder. In recognition of this, Harvey Felder is initiating a “second listen” cycle of works that have been premiered but not performed a second time. Each of this season’s masterworks programs includes such a piece.”
Even more adventurous is a collaborative show in November involving video game composer Tommy Tallurico and the TSO playing popular soundtracks to video games, complete with lighting, electronics and the works. There’s also a repeat of last year’s family concert with exactly the same program: “Peter and the Wolf.”
The next TSO program is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on May 5 at the Pantages. 253-591-5894, www.tacomasymphony.org