The Dallas Morning News
Variety of hands holding batons for DSO
2018-19 docket includes many conductors, a safe slate of works
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-19 concert season, announced Friday, doesn’t answer the question: Who will be the orchestra’s next music director?
With Jaap van Zweden leaving this summer to head the New York Philharmonic, search committee chair Morton Meyerson thinks an announcement may happen by the end of the current season. But we’re not there yet.
In the meantime, the orchestra may be hedging its bets by re-booking three of the conductors I’m guessing are in the running: the American James Gaffigan, the Scotsman Donald Runnicles and the Spaniard Pablo Heras-Casado.
Even assuming an appointment is announced in May, conductors’ advance schedules make it unlikely that a new music director could take over at least until the 2019-20 season.
Without a music director in place, the DSO will be using a variety of conductors next season — six from the DSO “family.” As conductor laureate, van Zweden will pace a program including the Mahler First Symphony. Former principal guest conductor Claus Peter Flor will make a welcome return for a program of Wagner and Strauss.
Assistant conductor Ruth Reinhardt will appear on both classical and the more casual ReMix series, and her predecessor, Karina Canellakis, will lead one classical program. Concertmaster Alexander Kerr will double as conductor and violinist on one of the ReMix programs. Former assistant conductor Lawrence Loh will lead holiday concerts.
Other familiar faces on the podium will include David Zinman, David Robertson, Carlos Kalmar and (although in his DSO conducting debut) composer John Adams. Also on the conducting roster: Andrew Grams, Brett Mitchell, Matthew Halls, Krzystof Urbanski, Juraj Valcuha, Lionel Bringuier and John Storgards.
Unusually, the September Gala will feature not a classical headliner but actress-singer Kristin Chenoweth. The Soluna International Music and Arts Festival will move earlier, to April, to coordinate with the Dallas Art Fair and the city-wide Dallas Arts Month; programming will be announced later.
There’s a particularly strong lineup of violin soloists on the classical schedule: Augustin Hadelich, Leila Josefowicz, Karen Gomyo, Stefan Jackiw and Renaud Capuçon, as well as the DSO’s own Kerr and Nathan Olson. As an artist-in-residence, Leonidas Kavakos will perform as both violinist and conductor.
Pianists will include Yefim Bronfman, Hélène Grimaud, Louis Lortie, Jonathan Biss, Jan Lisiecki, Andrew Van Oeyen and Orli Shaham.
Within the roundup of usual repertory suspects, there are a few surprises. The Dallas Symphony Chorus will perform Carl Orff ’s Carmina
Burana yet again, but also Rachmaninoff ’s The Bells and Haydn’s The Creation.
The only orchestral work just making it into the 21st century is Dallas native Christopher Theofanidis’
Rainbow Body. John Adams will conduct two of his most popular works, Short Ride in a Fast Machine and the Violin Concerto.
More “legacy” American music, shamefully neglected in recent DSO seasons, is represented on the classical series by only two works: Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Bernstein’s Age
of Anxiety Symphony, the latter marking the composer’s centenary. (Bernstein’s music also will be featured on pops and family concerts.)
Rounding out the complement of more modern music will be Orawa (1986) by the late Polish composer Wojcieck Kilar and
Tabula Rasa (1977) by the contemporary Estonian Arvo Pärt.
There’s a little bump of British music: four works by Elgar and William Walton’s First Symphony. Denmark will be represented by Carl Nielsen’s dramatic Fifth Symphony.
On the lighter side, a movies-in-concert series will
include Star Wars: A New Hope, Jurassic Park and The Little Mermaid.
Pops concerts will feature music of Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Williams and Prince. And Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. will make an appearance.
In general, I again wish DSO programming were a little more imaginative, with less automatic reliance on obvious repertory choices. How about Copland’s dazzling Organ Symphony instead of the thrice-familiar
Appalachian Spring? (The Meyerson Symphony Center’s Fisk organ will make no solo appearance on next season’s orchestral concerts, although the Opus 100 recital series will present Thomas
Heywood, James O’Donnell and Monica Czausz.)
While on the subject of American music, how about one of the worthy symphonies of George Chadwick or Walter Piston? Has the DSO
ever played a piece by the late Elliott Carter?
Once again, in a city and state with a huge and growing Latino population, there’s not a single work by a composer from south of the Rio Grande, or from a Latin-American composer in the United States. There’s not a single work by an African-American or Asian — or by a woman.
One needn’t obsess over political correctness — or match the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s multicultural lineup of 50 new commissioned works next season — to think the DSO still too stuck in the Old White Guys rut.
Formerly classical music critic of The Dallas Morning News, Scott Cantrell continues covering the beat as a freelance writer. Classical music coverage at The News is supported in part by a grant from the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. The News makes all editorial decisions.