Even with the loss of one orchestra’s Palm Beach County concerts (the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, which will stick to Stuart and Vero Beach this time around), the upcoming classical season is hard to complain about, with its roster of major ensembles and performers, several world premieres, and a deep lineup of compelling music across the genre spectrum.
Here’s how that looks:
The Kravis Center hosts the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería of Mexico on Oct. 30, led by the fine conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto and featuring the Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero in her First Piano Concerto (Latin). Also on the program are pieces by Chávez and Revueltas, and the contemporary Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz.
Things begin heating up this month with Seraphic Fire, the Miami-based concert choir that is one of the few area ensembles to have been nominated for a Grammy Award (two, in its case). The group presents excerpts from Rameau’s 1737 opera Castor et Pollux on Nov. 5 in at the Kravis Center in a concert called “Gods and Mortals.” On Nov. 15 at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, the Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach begins its 11th season with cellist Gary Hoffman and pianist Jon Kimura Parker in the Cello Sonata of Rachmaninoff; they are joined by CMSPB artistic director Arnaud Sussmann on violin for the Piano Trio No. 1 of Smetana.
The Palm Beach Symphony starts its golden anniversary season at the Kravis Center on Nov. 19 with pianist Yefim Bronfman in the Brahms Second Piano Concerto. Conductor Gerard Schwarz opens the concert with a world premiere from composer Bright Sheng, and later conducts a suite from Richard Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier. That same day, The Symphonia of Boca Raton starts things off at St. Andrew’s School in Boca with an environment-themed concert featuring violinist Hina Khuong-Huu, winner of the 2023 Elmar Oliveira Competition, in Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir d’un lieu cher. Conductor Alastair Willis also has programmed the second Water Music suite of Handel, Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Chokfi, a work by the American Indian composer Jerod Tate.
The Symphonia kicks off the month Dec. 3 with a concert at Spanish River High School led by Laura Jackson, featuring tenor Leo Williams in Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony and selections from American composer Patrick Harlin’s Wilderness Anthology. The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach renews its commitment to a New York holiday tradition by once again scheduling the complete Brandenburg Concertos of J.S. Bach as played by the musicians of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center on Dec. 6.
Violinist Tessa Lark and pianist Peter Dugan, billing themselves as the Visionary Duo, perform at the Norton Museum on Dec. 7 for the CMSPB. The New World Symphony, the young players of the Miami Beach-based orchestral academy, are scheduled to return to the Kravis Center on Dec. 11 for a concert featuring Mahler’s Sixth Symphony; no conductor has yet been announced. The following day, Seraphic Fire presents its annual Christmas concert at the Kravis Center.
Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai joins the Palm Beach Symphony on Dec. 13 for the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto; the program also includes the Ninth Symphony of Dvořák and a world premiere by conductor Schwarz. Over in the Kravis’s Rinker Playhouse that same night is a concert by five members of the Young Concert Artists, which has been mentoring promising musicians since 1961. Two of those members are singers, making for an unusual mix of chamber and art song pieces. And on Dec. 17, veteran violinist Itzhak Perlman makes his annual winter visit to Palm Beach County with his klezmer program, In the Fiddler’s House.
Four Arts artistic director Wu Han focuses on Beethoven as the new year begins, with a three-concert look at the composer’s chamber music, beginning Jan. 7 with a traversal of all five of his cello sonatas, played by David Finckel, with his wife Wu Han at the piano. The Jacksonville Symphony, led by Courtney Lewis, welcomes pianist and composer Conrad Tao, who plays Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (for its 100th anniversary) as well as Rachmaninoff’s Fourth Piano Concerto. The program is rounded out with a too-rarely heard masterwork, the Fourth Symphony (Inextinguishable) of Denmark’s Carl Nielsen.
The Beethoven festival at the Four Arts continues on Jan. 10 with piano trios by Beethoven and his one-time teacher, Joseph Haydn, while a different kind of trio, one of violin, viola and cello, plays the Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church on Jan. 11 for CMSPB; artistic chief Sussmann is joined by violinist Benjamin Beilman and cellist Edward Arron for music of Handel, Leclair, Dvořák and the young American composer Jessie Montgomery. The Four Arts Beethoven mini-festival concludes Jan. 14 with musicians from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performing two early trios and the Septet for winds and strings. On Jan. 15, violinist Pinchas Zukerman joins the Palm Beach Symphony for a movement from Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir d’un lieu cher as well as Mozart’s Third Violin Concerto. Sibelius’s Second Symphony and the Four Hymns Without Words, by the veteran African-American composer Adolphus Hailstork, fill out the evening.
The Duncan Theatre’s Classical Café series at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth Beach opens Jan. 17 with a visit from the Neave Trio, now the ensemble in residence at Virginia Commonwealth University. Meanwhile, on Jan. 20, the conductor-less Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 at the Kravis. The Symphonia launches its third concert on Jan. 21 with Joseph Bologne’s overture to his opera L’amant Anonyme, Haydn’s Symphony No. 60, and Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on “Greensleeves.” Also on the program led by Alastair Willis is the contemporary British composer Anna Clyne’s Sound and Fury.
The great American pianist Jeremy Denk visits the Four Arts on Jan. 24 for music by Bach, Chopin, Clara Schumann and Schubert, as well as the American composer Missy Mazzoli’s Heartbreaker. Closing out the month on Jan. 29 at the Kravis is the Cleveland Orchestra, with violinist Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider performing the Bruch Concerto No. 1. Conductor Franz Welser-Möst has also scheduled Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony and the Cleveland Pictures of the late British contemporary composer Oliver Knussen.
The splendid Calidore String Quartet comes to the Four Arts on Feb. 4 with music of Bach arranged by Mozart, and Purcell arranged by Benjamin Britten, as well as quartets by Mendelssohn and Britten. Veteran pianist Vladimir Feltsman plays the Grieg Piano Concerto on Feb. 5 with the Palm Beach Symphony; conductor Schwarz has also scheduled Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and a world premiere by composer and South Florida native Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Another young foursome, the Ulysses Quartet, kicks off the Flagler Museum’s music series on Feb. 6.
A wind quartet and a pianist from London’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields come to the Four Arts on Feb. 7 for music by Poulenc, Mozart, Glinka, Françaix and the late-19th-century Austrian composer Heinrich Molbe. The next day at the same venue, the Metropolitan Opera’s Peter Gelb gives a talk on the future of opera, and on Feb. 9, four young singers in the Met’s Lindemann Artists Program give a concert of arias. And on the 11th, the Schumann Quartet (three of whom are brothers of that name) offers music of Mozart, Beethoven and Janáček.
Violinist Elissa Lee Koljonen brings a recital program to the Flagler Museum on Feb. 13 with pianist Sheng-Yeng Kuan, while on Valentine’s Day the Tesla Quartet plays the Duncan Theatre and at the Rinker Playhouse, young musicians from Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music drop by for a “Curtis on Tour” concert. The great American cellist Alisa Weilerstein is the soloist Feb. 17 when the Detroit Symphony Orchestra arrives at the Kravis; she’ll play the Elgar concerto on a concert with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Wynton Marsalis’s Herald, Holler and Hallelujah! Weilerstein and conductor Jader Bignamini repeat the program on the afternoon of Feb. 18 with Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony replacing the Rimsky.
The eclectic Beo String Quartet stops by the Flagler on Feb. 20, and on Feb. 22, pianists Juho Pohjonen and Wu Qian play four-hand repertoire at one piano by Mendelssohn, Debussy, Dvořák and Cécile Chaminade in a CMSPB concert at the Norton Museum. Seraphic Fire’s Enlightenment Festival returns for another year with two concerts, one of which, on Feb. 25 at St. Gregory’s Episcopal in Boca, features works by Haydn: the Te Deum for Empress Maria Therese, the Nelson Mass, and “The Battle of the Nile.” The month ends at the Flagler with pianist Marta Aznavoorian and her sister, cellist Ani Aznavoorian, on Feb. 27, and the Verona Quartet on Feb. 28 at the Duncan Theatre.
Pianist Bailey-Michelle Collins, a Gainesville native who studied at the Lynn Conservatory before heading to Baltimore for master’s work at Peabody, offers a solo recital March 3 on the St. Paul’s series in Delray. The fine Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov plays Mozart’s early Piano Concerto No. 9 with the Rotterdam Philharmonic on March 4 at the Kravis Center; conductor Lahav Shani has also programmed selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet score and Estonian master Arvo Pärt’s Swansong. On March 5, Chicago’s Black Oak Ensemble, a string trio, closes the Flagler music series, and on March 6, the great pianist Emanuel Ax joins the Palm Beach Symphony for the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 25; Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony is scheduled, as is a world premiere work by the eminent American composer Aaron Jay Kernis. That same day at the Four Arts, the Escher Quartet performs quartets by Haydn, Janáček and Ravel. On March 7 at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, the luminous American mezzo Sasha Cooke sings a recital program for CMSPB, accompanied by pianist John Churchwell.
One of the biggest events of the classical season comes March 8 and 9 at the Kravis, when the Vienna Philharmonic, under Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Möst (leader of the Cleveland Orchestra), arrives for a two-day stay. On March 8, the program features Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and the Three Pieces for Orchestra of Alban Berg. On the afternoon of March 9, it’s the Berg pieces and the Ninth Symphony of Anton Bruckner. Orchestral devotees will not want to miss either of these concerts.
The American pianist and composer Michael Stephen Brown, in his Four Arts concert March 13, brings a varied program including music by Mendelessohn, Haydn, Debussy, Ravel and the 19th-century German composer Delphine von Schauroth. Two of Brown’s own works are on his recital, including a COVID pandemic-inspired work called “Breakup Etude for Right Hand Alone.” That same day, the young American pianist Evren Ozel wraps the Classical Café series at the Duncan with a solo recital.
Audience favorite Alexander Platt returns to the Symphonia on March 17 to lead the orchestra in music of Fauré (Masques et Bergamasques) and Mendelssohn (Symphony No. 3), plus a flute concerto (No. 7) by the 18th-century French flutist and composer François Devienne; the soloist is Les Roettge of the Jacksonville Symphony. On March 18, violinist Joshua Bell and his Academy of St. Martin in the Fields comes to the Kravis in a program TBA; two days later, the youthful Galvin Cello Quartet visits the Rinker for the Kravis’s Young Artists Classical Series.
The Jerusalem Quartet brings a concert of quartets by Haydn, Brahms and Shostakovich to the Four Arts on April 3, while on April 4 at the Norton, four leading wind players and pianist Orion Weiss team up for quintets by Mozart and Beethoven for the CMSPB. On April 13, the Symphonia closes out its season with a dramatization by conductor Alastair Willis of life at the Eszterhaza Palace working for Joseph Haydn, featuring his music.
Russian pianist Anna Geniushene, who won the silver medal at the 2022 Cliburn Competition, ends the Four Arts season April 24 with a recital featuring the Op. 1 compositions of seven composers: Clementi, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Weinberg, Schumann, Berg and Brahms. On April 25, the Palm Beach Symphony marks an important Beethoven anniversary by performing the composer’s landmark Ninth Symphony, 200 years after its debut, with the help of several University of Miami vocal groups and four soloists, as yet unannounced. The concert opens with the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with soloist Ignat Solzhenitsyn.
Also on the 25th, the CMSPB ends its season at Bethesda-by-the-Sea with harpist Emmanuel Ceyson, accompanied by four leading string players, in an all-French program featuring music of Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Marcel Tournier. Seraphic Fire ends its season April 28 at St. Gregory’s in Boca Raton with a varied program of mid-20th century choral music including Barber’s Two Pieces and William Schuman’s Carols of Death.