As South Carolina continues on the road to fully reopening, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra is looking toward the fall and next spring with great hopes and ambitious plans.
The orchestra’s 2020-21 season will feature more guest soloists than ever before, including return visits by violinist Elena Urioste and pianist Do-Hyun Kim.
Urioste, last heard in a well-received performance of Elgar’s Violin Concerto in 2014, will perform Eric Wolfgang Korngold’s lush, lyrical Violin Concerto in March 2021.
Kim, who opened last season with Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, will offer another cornerstone concerto, the Grieg Piano Concerto, in April of next year.
Before those concerts, the celebrated violinist Alexander Markov will open the orchestra’s 73rd season in September with Paganini’s dazzling First Violin Concerto at the Peace Center.
“He’s a great virtuoso,” said Edvard Tchivzhel, the Greenville Symphony’s music director and conductor.
Also on the Sept. 26-27 opening program, under Tchivzhel’s leadership, will be Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni and Dvorak’s ever-popular Ninth Symphony (“From the New World”).
Greenville Symphony officials, like their classical-music colleagues across the country, are keeping a close watch on COVID-19 developments. They remain optimistic that the 2020-21 season will proceed as planned after several concerts had to be canceled in April and May due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“In speaking to my colleagues who run orchestras across the nation, there is a level of uncertainty, but we know we’re going be back,” said Julie Fish, executive director of the Greenville Symphony. “America’s orchestras have withstood the test of time. There is a strong belief in the power of music to help us endure.”
The orchestra’s upcoming season will feature more than 30 public performances of large-scale works (the Masterworks Series), smaller orchestral works (Chamber Series), and small, eclectic chamber pieces (Spotlight Series).
“We have a great variety of classical music represented — German, Italian, French, Czech and Russian,” Tchivzhel said.
Tchivzhel will conduct all Masterworks and Chamber programs, except for a Jan. 30-31 program that will feature guest conductor Carolyn Kuan, the Chinese-American music director of the Hartford Symphony.
Pops and Beethoven
The orchestra will again offer its spirited Pops Series, with three programs on tap: a “Hollywood Hits” concert of film music (Oct. 22), the Christmas-themed “Holiday at Peace” with soprano Karen Parks (Dec. 18-20) and a “Women Rock” concert (April 1) that features the music of Carole King, Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin and many others.
“I think the Greenville Symphony is doing a great job with the Pops Series by really being in tune with what the community wants,” Fish said. “It really showcases the versatility of the orchestra.”
This year marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and the Greenville Symphony, like many orchestras around the world, will give special attention to the German composer’s works. An all-Beethoven program in October opens the Chamber Series with the Sixth Symphony (“Pastoral”) and the Fourth Piano Concerto, the latter featuring the young Greenville-based pianist Zachary Hughes.
Beethoven will be spotlighted in heroic mode in the November Masterworks program, featuring the Third Symphony (“Eroica.”)
Triumph over adversity
The season’s Masterworks programs seem tailor-made for a world longing to declare victory over the coronavirus pandemic.
The theme of triumph-over-adversity looms large in the big symphonic works by Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Beethoven and others.
They’re works that celebrate the unconquerable human spirit.
Tchaikovsky’s blazing Fourth Symphony, coupled with Urioste’s performance of the Korngold Violin Concerto, will be offered in March. Brahms’ First Symphony, along with the Grieg Piano Concerto, is planned for April.
Russian-born pianist Asiya Korepanova will be featured in her Greenville Symphony debut performance in May 2021 as soloist in two pieces: Liszt’s First Piano Concerto and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Those will be followed by Mussorgsky’s grand “Pictures at an Exhibition” in the brilliant Ravel orchestration.
Soloists in the orchestra
The Chamber Series will spotlight two of the orchestra’s musicians as soloists. Caroline Ulrich, the orchestra’s principal flutist, will perform Mozart’s Concerto for Flute in November.
Concertmaster Laura Colgate, meanwhile, will take on Vivaldi’s hugely popular “Four Seasons” in February.
Though the full orchestra has been unable to perform during the coronavirus pandemic, the Greenville Symphony has been hosting a “Digital Concert Hall,” posting past performances by the orchestra and comments by Tchivzhel on social media.
The orchestra’s generous supporters have continued to sustain the Greenville Symphony during the challenges brought by the coronavirus, Fish said.
“One of the things that these extraordinary times have reaffirmed for us is the generosity of our patrons,” she said. “They’ve continued to be supportive, and the board has been amazing.”
Season tickets are now on sale at greenvillesymphony.org.
If you go
Following are the concerts in the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s 2020-21 season:
Sept. 26-27: Mozart: Overture to Don Giovanni; Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 1 (Alexander Markov, violin); Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”).
Nov. 21-22: Wagner: Overture to “Tannhauser”; Rossini: “William Tell” Overture; Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”).
Jan. 30-31: C. Assad: Suite for Low Strings; Mendelssohn: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; Sibelius: Symphony No. 3; Carolyn Kuan, guest conductor.
March 20-21: Offenbach: Overture to “Orpheus in the Underworld”; Korngold: Violin Concerto (Elena Urioste, violin); Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4.
April 24-25: Grieg: Piano Concerto (Do-Hyun Kim, piano); Brahms: Symphony No. 1.
May 15-16: Shostakovich: Festive Overture; Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1; Gershwin: “Rhapsody in Blue” (Asiya Korepanova, piano); Mussorgsky/Ravel: “Pictures at an Exhibition.
Oct. 16-18: All-Beethoven: “Egmont” Overture; Piano Concerto No. 4 (Zachary Hughes, piano); Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”).
Nov. 6-8: All-Mozart: Mozart: Divertimento K. 136; Concerto for Flute (Caroline Ulrich, flute); Symphony No. 39.
Feb. 5-7: Tchaikovsky: “Souvenir de Florence”; Vivaldi: “The Four Seasons” (Laura Colgate, violin).
March 5-7: Rossini: Overture to “The Barber of Seville”; Bizet: Symphony No. 1; Haydn: Symphony No. 82 (“The Bear”).
Oct. 10: Tyson: “Vertical River for Woodwind Quintet and Marimba”; Boccherini: Quintet No. 5; Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B Minor.
Jan. 9: Mueller: Quintet No. 2; Haydn: Divertissement No. 2; Wilder: Suite for Horn and Bassoon; Prokofiev: Quintet Op. 39.
Feb. 27: Telemann: Quartet in G Major for Flute, Oboe, Violin and Continuo from “Tafelmusik”; Beethoven: Septet in E-flat major.
Oct. 22: “Hollywood Hits”: Music from such films as “Gone With the Wind,” “The Magnificent 7,” “Dr. Zhivago,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Rocky,” “The Pink Panther,” and others.
Dec. 18-20: “Holiday at Peace”: A Christmastime favorite.
April 1: “Women Rock”: Three female vocalists, accompanied by the Greenville Symphony, sing the music of Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Carole King, Aretha Franklin and many others.