Sunday afternoons at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center should prove quite exhilarating this musical season, thanks to the announcement of the New West Symphony programming for the 2017-18 season. Listeners will enjoy a sampling of the orchestra’s potential new maestro or maestra, along with additional stellar guest conductors. Those who prefer or who live closer to the Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center can book Saturday evening seats there.
The orchestra’s muy caliente “Grand Season Opening” kicks off on Oct. 7-8 with a tribute to Hispanic Heritage Month. The program includes three works by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla: the sublime and haunting tango “Oblivion,” “Introducción al Ángel” and “Muerte del Ángel.” Renowned flamenco dancer Siudy Garrido will perform the 1925 Spanish ballet “El Amor Brujo” by Manuel de Falla, which translates to “Spellbound Love” or “the Bewitched Love.” Chances are you will recognize this fiery musical treat — complete with ritual fire dance, jealousy and intrigue — set in Andalusia, which tells the story of Carmelo, a dashing villager who is in love with Candela, who in turn is still in love with the ghost of a dead gypsy. Mixed in will be pieces by Mozart and Beethoven plus Taranguino by composer JP Jofre, who will also perform on bandoneon. The opening performance will be led by guest conductor Grant Cooper.
A pre-Thanksgiving Centurion birthday party will tickle Leonard Bernstein fans’ fancies on Nov. 17-18. Famed Hollywood Bowl music director John Mauceri will engage the audience with a multimedia program combined with personal stories commemorating the worldwide celebrations of the 100th birthday of the great conductor, pianist and composer. Maestro Mauceri, a beloved protégé and close collaborator of Bernstein, conducts a cornucopia of works, including pieces from On the Town, West Side Story, Candide and other Bernstein favorites. “America” from West Side Story should take on new meaning considering the current political climate.
Viennese music is on display during the “Classical Vienna” concerts on April 13-14. Austrian pianist Till Fellner may stun audiences with his mastery of Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat Major.” Brahms and Beethoven will also be performed. This performance will be led by guest conductor Andrew Grams. The Oxnard performance of “Classical Vienna” will take place on a Friday evening, April 13, instead of a Sunday performance.
In other news, NWS begins the second phase of its music-director search by naming three finalists to return to lead the symphony in encore performances. Semifinalists Kynan Johns, Tania Miller and Fawzi Haimor will visit the Southland in 2018.
The new conductor — who will be chosen by a search committee made up of symphony executives, board members and orchestra members, as well as input from community leaders — will debut at NWS’ 25th anniversary season in 2019. Obviously, it’s a long, slow road to conductorship and listeners will have to be patient to see and hear the finalists — but don’t let that keep you away because there are some fabulous guest maestros on the bill.
First up, Maestro Kynan Johns returns for a second time to lead the orchestra in the “Tchaikovsky Pathetique” for Jan. 26-27 concerts that will include a world premiere commission by Emmy Award-winning composer Bruce Broughton for the Lyris Quartet. A protégé of Lorin Maazel and Zubin Mehta, Johns has conducted the Israel Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic and Vienna Chamber Orchestra.
Violin superstar Pinchas Zukerman will return for his second appearance with NWS to conduct the orchestra, as well as perform with cellist Amanda Forsyth on March 10-11 in a program that includes works by Vivaldi, Couperin, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert.
Maestra Tania Miller returns in the spring to perform in concerts May 12-13. “Virtuoso Tour de Force” will feature Haochen Zhang, one of the youngest pianists, at age 19, to win the Van Cliburn Competition. He will perform Liszt’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” in a romantic program that will include Wagner’s “Tannhauser Overture” and Liszt’s “Totentanz.” In 2016-2017, Tania Miller celebrated her 14th season as nusic director of the Victoria (British Columbia) Symphony in a position that she has occupied with great distinction and to growing acclaim. As the first Canadian woman to be music director of a major Canadian symphony orchestra, the maestra has been a driving force behind new growth, innovation and quality for the Victoria Symphony, and has gained a national reputation as a highly effective advocate and communicator for the arts.
Although it seems like too far to think into the future, Maestro Fawzi Haimor returns to lead the orchestra in October 2018. Stay tuned for more details as time goes by.
New West Symphony’s 2017-18 season opens on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Fred Kavli Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.; and Sunday, Oct 8, at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center, 800 Hobson Way, Oxnard. For full schedule, tickets and more information, call 497-5800 or visit www.newwestsymphony.org.