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DSO back to business for 2012-13 season
After a dramatic couple of years, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is back to business as usual.
Violinist Joshua Bell will join Music Director Leonard Slatkin and the DSO this weekend to open the 2012-2013 season at Orchestra Hall with a tribute to the late Leonard Bernstein, kicking off an eight-month-plus run of performances. The musicians strike that derailed most of the 2010-2011 season is a distant memory, and last year's "comeback" season -- which came alongside a new and extremely successful neighborhood concert series -- got the DSO back on track with an attendance of nearly 228,000.
"We have a full season that we were able to plan in during last (season)," notes DSO Artistic Administrator Erik Ronmark. "You go back two years ago and then last year, when we were coming back, and we couldn't do that. So to be able to sit down and plan a full season was certainly less stressful."
Also easing the burden a bit is the announcement that the DSO has surpassed its $12.32 million annual fundraising goal -- including $1 million raised by a May concert with Kid Rock at Detroit's Fox Theatre -- with a 15 percent increase in the number of donors. On Aug. 27 the orchestra also enjoyed its best-ever opening day of ticket sales since the Max M. Fisher Music Center opened in 2003.
This year's DSO season is certainly one of the ensemble's most ambitious, with a wide range of classical, pops and jazz offerings as well as extensive recording plans and a continuation of the neighborhood concerts -- more than 90 events in total.
Slatkin and the DSO plan to record the third and final entry in its Rachmaninoff Project with "Isle of the Dead" and Symphony No. 1, which will be performed Oct. 19-21 and Nov. 9-11, respectively. The ensemble will also record the complete ballets of Aaron Copland and John Williams' "The Five Sacred Trees," the latter of which will be released digitally.
Also on tap is a Beethoven Festival in February during which the DSO will perform all nine of his symphonies and record them for a digital box set release. "We've been looking forward to that for four years now," Ronmark says.
Other highlights of the season include: a tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch, who was supposed to conduct the DSO Nov. 2-3, with Jeff Tyzik taking the baton and Ann Hampton Calloway as featured vocalist; a celebration of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" centennial with guest conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos March 14-15; a combination of Holst's "The Planets" with the Michigan State University Chorale and State Singers, Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 and the Ligeti's "Lontano" on May 3-4 with John Storgards conducting; and a season-closing appearance by pianist Andrew Watts premiering Missy Mazzoli's "Lebenbom" on May 31-June 1.
The DSO will also warm up for the holidays with favorites such as Tchaikovsky's "Romeo & Juliet" (Dec. 8-9) and "The Nutcracker" (Dec. 13-14).
This year's Pops series begins Oct. 5-7 with "Cirque de la Symphonie," while other programs will feature orchestral renderings of the songs of Queen, ABBA and John Lennon and Paul McCartney, film music, a "Red Hot and Blues" show April 19-21 and "West Side Story" June 7-8. The Paradise Jazz Series starts with Cassandra Wilson on Oct. 12 and includes six other shows throughout the season.
The neighborhood series, meanwhile, begins in mid-December in Beverly Hills and will include concerts in Bloomfield Hills, Dearborn, Grosse Pointe, Southfield and West Bloomfield.
And in May the DSO will be part of the final Spring For Music festival at New York's Carnegie Hall as the first orchestra to play all four of American composer Charles Ives' symphonies in one program.
"You try to make as cohesive a season as you can," Ronmark explains, "well-balanced between experienced and up-and-coming guest artists. It was certainly nice to see the houses that we had during (last year's) classical season, and then going out into the neighborhoods and seeing the support for that.
"So it's certainly a positive feeling coming out of the year before and heading into this (season). We couldn't be happier to see the crowd support we have."
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra opens its 2012-2013 season with concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28-29, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30. Violinist Joshua Bell and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke will join the DSO for a program of Leonard Bernstein music. Tickets begin at $15. Call 313-576-5111 or visit www.dso.org.
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