2009 Repertoire Report- Christopher Zimmerman

My friend and colleague Christopher Zimmerman, newly appointed music director of the Fairfax Symphony and my colleague for the last five years on the faculty of the Rose City Conductor’s Workshop has weighed in with some interesting repertoire lists and thoughts about programming. First things first- a Repertoire Report in standard format, listing Chris’s 2009 repertoire by composer in alphabetical order-

1-        Beethoven—Symphony no.2

2-       Beethoven- Piano Concerto no. 4

3-       Beethoven—Symphony no.4

4-       Berg—Violin Concerto

5-       Bernstein—Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

6-       Bodorova—Concerto “dei fiori” for violin and orchestra (Chee-Yun, soloist)

7-       William Bolcom—Symphony no.6

8-       Carl—Symphony no.4 (WORLD PREMIERE)

9-       Debussy (arr. Schoenberg) Prelude a l’apres midi d’un faune

10-   Dvorak-Cello Concerto (Yanghee Lee, soloist)

11-   Elgar—Intro. and Allegro for Strings

12-   Falla—3 Cornered Hat, Suites 1 and 2

13-   Gershwin–Cuban Overture

14-   Gershwin—Rhapsody in Blue (Chu-Fang Huang)

15-   Ginastera—Estancia

16-   Grondahl—Trombone Concerto

17-   Gryc—Trombone Concerto “Passaggi” (Joel Alessi, soloist)

18-   Haydn–Symphony no.39

19-   Haydn- Symphony no. 99

20-   Korngold-Violin Concerto (Sam Martin, soloist)

21-   Mozart- Gran Partita

22-   Mozart—Symphony no.39

23-   Part—“Fratres”

24-   Purcell—Chacony

25-   Ravel—Alborado del Grazioso

26-   Ravel—Piano Concerto in G (Chu Fang Huang)

27-   Shostakovich–Symphony no.10

28-   J.Strauss—Overture to “die Fledermaus”

29-   Stravinsky—“Dumbarton Oaks”

30-   Stravinsky—Rite of Spring

31-   Tchaikovsky—Symphony no.5

32-   Verdi- excerpts from Aida

33-   Webern—Passacaglia (Leonard Sigal, soloist)

Thrity-three pieces and there is an imposing range of material here- Rite of Spring,  Shosty 10 and some interesting new pieces by Bolcome, Carl and Bodorova.

Chris has been combining positions as MD at Fairfax (he’s currently in the midst of his first season) and director of orchestras at Hartt. At Hartt, he needs to make sure the students are learning the repertoire they need to know for their careers to come, at Fairfax, there is a delicate balance between artistic and pragmatic issues to be struck. Chris writes-

As new music director of the FSO (Va.) I am trying to walk that line of giving the audience and orchestra a newish, more diverse and balanced diet from what they have had in the last 3 decades–to intrigue, interest, try to pull new people in but not, of course, alienate.  Also to give any particular program a real cohesion (not always possible as you know when there are changes that HAVE to be made to the “beautifully crafted” program at the last minute…).  I have noticed that the season diets of most orchestras of similar size to the FSO are, to my mind, surprisingly repetitive and unimaginative (even those of big orchestras too);  sort of a handful of the same old pieces stuck together without any evident rhyme or reason–or at least a rhyme or reason which will stir barely more than a couple of braincells.   In addition, and despite the fact that the current size of the FSO masterworks hardly lends itself to exploring the length and breadth of the repertoire, I have incorporated some sort of “spotlight” idea to be developed over a three year period–it could be a composer or a topic.  For the first three years we are looking at Sibelius in some depth (“depth” meaning a little more exposure than any other one composer); the next three years, if I am around, will probably feature a topic or issue, rather than a specific composer.

I have had to change some of my plans too, in order to not commit suicide immediately.   Next year one of the programs was going to be the following, which excites me on many levels (as you, who know my hidden secrets well, will hardly be surprised!):

Bach–Brandenburg no.5

Schnittke–Concerto grosso no.2 for solo violin and cello and orchestra

Shostakovich–Symphony no.15

Lots of stuff here to chew on emotionally, intellectually, viscerally!

Anyway, I found out that the date of this program is our debut in a beautiful brand new hall (just built with splendid acoustics; a fairly intimate space not too deep with three balconies and lots of boxes  a la European Opera House).  It will also be the launch of our first double next year and a bid for using this hall as our “second” hall for our doubles.  It is not far from our main stage in Fairfax but more in the sticks and basically home to a coupe of rich retirement communities.. which is of course potential for a new audience with some spondoolies.  But….aah, the program……..EXIT brilliant program and ENTER:

Bernstein–Candide Overture

Walton–Violin Concerto

Dvorak–New World

Cop out perhaps? (except there is the US/Anglo combo. which informed my opening concert with the FSO last September).  No, I hope not:  the Bach/Schnitt/Shost is merely shelved.

I guess my point is that it is best to gain the current audience’s trust before leaping into the lions den–just get one’s toes nibbled and licked by a few kitty-kats first.  So I am not in the least miffed by the program change.  But of course one must make a dent and I have tried a bit for the next two years.  Below I attach this season’s Masterworks and next (subject to change).  For 2011-2012 I have in mind a return of the Bach/Schnitt/Shost and hopefully the following in some shape or form:

Bartok–Miraculous Mandarin Suite


Sibelius–Tapiola, Symphony no.7

Puccini-Tosca (first concert opera of the FSO)

Nielsen–Symphony no.5



The 2009-10 FSO season looks like this-


Masterwork 1: Sept. 12, 2009

Bernstein—Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

Elgar—Intro. and Allegro for Strings

Stravinsky—Rite of Spring

Masterwork 2: Oct. 3, 2009 (Quader conducting)

Mendelssohn—Overture to “The Fair Melusine”

Mozart—Clarinet Concerto (Jon Manasse)

Beethoven—Symphony no.4

Masterwork 3: Nov. 21, 2009

Falla—3 Cornered Hat, Suites 1 and 2

Gershwin—Rhapsody in Blue (Chu-Fang Huang)

Ravel—Piano Concerto in G (Chu Fang Huang)


Masterwork 4: Jan. 23, 2010

Haydn—Symphony no. 92 “Oxford”

Barber—Violin Concerto (Augustin Hadelich)

Sibelius—Symphony no.1

Masterwork 5: March 13, 2010

Borodin—In the Steppes of Central Asia

Avner Dorman—Piano Concerto (Alon Goldstein)

Sibelius—The Lemminkainen Legends

Masterwork 6:  May 1, 2010 (Quader conducting)

Jennifer Higdon—Blue Cathedral

Elgar—Cello Concerto (Julie Albers, cello)

Mozart—Symphony no. 38 “Prague”

Barber—Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance

While the 2009-10 Hartt series looks like this-

Hartt Symphony  Calendar Season 2009-2010

Hartt Symphony Orchestra, Christopher Zimmerman, Music Director

Friday, October 2, 2009

Millard Auditorium, 7.30 pm, West Hartford, CT.

Ravel—Alborado del Grazioso

Gryc—Trombone Concerto “Passaggi” (Joel Alessi, soloist)

Tchaikovsky—Symphony no.5

Friday, November 6, 2009

Millard Auditorium, 7.30 pm, West Hartford, CT.


Berg—Violin Concerto

Webern—Passacaglia (Leonard Sigal, soloist)

Mozart—Symphony no.39

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lincoln Theater, 7.30 pm, West Hartford, CT.

J.Strauss—Overture to “die Fledermaus”

Beethoven—Symphony no.2

William Bolcom—Symphony no.6

Friday, March 26, 2010

Millard Auditorium, 7.30 pm, West Hartford, CT.

Stravinsky—Suites 1 and 2 for Orchestra

Haydn—Symphony TBA

Brahms—Symphony no.1

Sunday, May 2, 2010

St.Joseph’s Cathedral, Hartford, CT.

Britten—War Requiem

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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