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Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra Announce 2017-2018 Season

February 23, 2017

Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Sixth Season Spans a Vast Range of Sounds

Commissions • Oratorio • Chamber Music • Opera

A Crowd-Sourced Celebration of Philadelphia • Broadway

and a Wide Swath of Orchestral Repertoire 

Philadelphia Voices, a new work by Tod Machover 


Winter Festival focuses on British Isles 

Hilary Hahn is Artist-in-Residence

American Sounds

Leonard Bernstein Centenary

Including Full Score Performances of West Side Story in Concert

 Premieres for Orchestra Principals

(Philadelphia, February 23, 2017)—Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and President and CEO Allison Vulgamore today released The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2017-18 season. Nézet-Séguin begins his sixth season in Philadelphia with a commitment to lead the world-renowned ensemble through at least 2025-26, continuing a relationship between music director and musicians that has garnered praise around the globe.

“This is possibly the most varied season The Philadelphia Orchestra and I have undertaken together,” said Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “It’s thrilling to be able to make music in every way possible, from playing piano with our wonderful principal strings in chamber music, to conducting new works, including commissions, to an oratorio I adore, to a semi-staged production of Tosca. We have some audience favorites, of course, and naturally we are celebrating the centenary of that amazing musical figure Leonard Bernstein. We hope everyone will join us!”

“We truly are celebrating Yannick in every musical way this season, and we’re also celebrating our wonderful city of Philadelphia,” added Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore. “Tod Machover’s crowd-sourced Philadelphia Voices, which will ultimately have many Philadelphia partners; 11 of our own musicians in featured roles; two works from Philadelphia-based Jennifer Higdon; and continuing our tradition of commissioning works for our principal players all bring the keen focus of our musical lens to our home and its rich artistic treasures.”

Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads a sixth season brimming with vitality and diversity, commissioning new works, reexamining great repertoire, and showcasing the famous Philadelphia Sound. Season highlights include the world premiere of a distinctly Philadelphia composition, the crowd-sourced, collaborative composition Philadelphia Voices by the innovative and entrepreneurial composer Tod Machover; Haydn’s choral masterpiece The Seasons, which returns after an absence of more than 20 years; American Sounds, a multi-year focus on the fascinatingly varied works inspired by sounds indigenous to this country; the annual three-week Winter Festival, which explores music from, and inspired by, the British Isles; and new works by Jennifer Higdon and Samuel Jones written for Philadelphia Orchestra principal players. Throughout the season The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrates the centenary of the legendary American conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, including rare performances of the full West Side Story. Nézet-Séguin, who also becomes music director designate of the Metropolitan Opera in the 2017-18 season, alongside his ongoing commitment to The Philadelphia Orchestra at least through 2026, will also lead The Philadelphia Orchestra and a cast of star soloists in a staged production of Puccini’s Tosca in Verizon Hall.

Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève, who recently extended his contract with The Philadelphia Orchestra for another three years, leads four subscription programs with a multi-concert focus on works by 46-year-old French composer Guillaume Connesson. Ten other guest conductors join the Philadelphians on the podium for the main subscription season, including eight returning artists and two making their debuts. Violinist Hilary Hahn is the season’s artist-in-residence; and the Orchestra welcomes back a number of special guests, many of whom are Philadelphia favorites, including pianist Emanuel Ax, who opens the season with Yannick; violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Hélène Grimaud, who each appear in four concerts this season; as does pianist Daniil Trifonov, who returns for more live recordings of works by Rachmaninoff. Eleven Orchestra musicians also appear as featured soloists.

2017-18 Season Highlights Overview:

¨      Yannick Nézet-Séguin begins his sixth season as music director; his commitment runs through at least the 2025-26 season, further developing his now-renowned relationship with The Philadelphia Orchestra. 

¨      Nézet-Séguin leads the world premiere of Philadelphia Voices, a new crowd-sourced commission by the innovative composer Tod Machover, supported by a generous grant from the Knight Foundation.

¨      Nézet-Séguin leads the annual Winter Festival, with an exploration in the 2017-18 season on the music of the British Isles, in which he’ll also be featured as chamber musician.

¨      Nézet-Séguin, whose love of opera is well known, leads a symphonic opera production of Puccini’s Tosca in Verizon Hall. 

¨      Nézet-Séguin realizes “a long-imagined dream” by presenting Haydn’s The Seasons for only the second time in The Philadelphia Orchestra’s history.

¨      Stéphane Denève, who earlier this month renewed his contract as principal guest conductor for another three years, leads four weeks during the main season, with the music of French composer Guillaume Connesson prominently featured. Denève also leads the traditional New Year’s Eve concert for the first time, and two Family Concerts.

¨      The Orchestra’s special relationship with the violinist Hilary Hahn continues as she serves as the season’s artist-in-residence.

¨      Hannibal Lokumbe continues his work as Music Alive Composer-in-Residence, visiting throughout the community, finding inspiration for his Healing Tones, the premiere of which is slated for the 2018-19 season.

¨      Yannick Nézet-Séguin ends the season with a particularly close artistic partner and pianist: Hélène Grimaud.

¨      Former Music Director Christoph Eschenbach returns for a program with cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

¨      Esteemed guest conductors returning to lead subscription concerts include Cristian Măcelaru, James Gaffigan, Donald Runnicles, Pablo Heras-Casado, Fabio Luisi, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Nicholas McGegan. Making their Philadelphia Orchestra debuts on the podium are two exciting new talents, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and Lahav Shani.

¨      Philadelphia favorite Bramwell Tovey returns to lead the Glorious Sound of Christmas concerts.

¨      Returning guest artists include violinist Joshua Bell, pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov (the Orchestra’s GRAMMY-nominated recording partner), and numerous other distinguished performers.

¨      Inspired by the memorable sounds of Bernstein’s Broadway-infused MASS in 2015 Yannick Nézet-Séguin set out to explore the many and varied riches of the world of indigenous American musical genres. The world premiere performances of Hannibal’s spiritual and jazz-inspired One Land, One River, One People furthered that passion, and the exploration continues to range from jazz, Broadway, and spirituals to electronica. In 2017-18 American Sounds is particularly rich in jazz-influenced compositions, bringing works by Wynton Marsalis, George Gershwin, Michael Tilson Thomas, and more to Verizon Hall.

¨      The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein with selections from his repertoire for stage and concert hall all season long.  

¨      The Philadelphia Orchestra has commissioned two new works for principal players by Samuel Jones and Jennifer Higdon.

¨      Eleven musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra appear as soloists or chamber musicians during the season: Concertmaster David Kim, First Associate Concertmaster Juliette Kang, Principal Second Violin Kimberly Fisher, Principal Viola Choong-Jin Chang, Principal Cello Hai-Ye Ni, Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner, Principal Trumpet David Bilger, Principal Trombone Nitzan Haroz, Co-Principal Trombone Matthew Vaughn, Bass Trombone Blair Bollinger, and Principal Tuba Carol Jantsch.

¨      The 2017-18 season also includes The Philadelphia Orchestra’s annual subscription series at Carnegie Hall; Family Concerts, Sound All Around presentations, and School Concerts; holiday performances and other special concert events; the Opening Night Concert and Gala; the 161st Academy of Music Anniversary Concert and Ball; residencies in three summer venues; selected concerts featuring the Orchestra’s LiveNote app, plus a screening of Amadeus with live orchestra.

¨      Additional plans will be announced at a later date.

Philadelphia Voices

The Philadelphia Orchestra has commissioned Tod Machover, one of the most exciting and provocative voices in American composition, to create a uniquely Philadelphia masterpiece. His crowd-sourced, collaborative work, Philadelphia Voices, will solicit voices and viewpoints from schools, choirs, and community groups—as well as through social media participation. Inspired by the City of Philadelphia—as the birthplace of democracy in the U.S.—Machover and the Orchestra will invite people of all ages and backgrounds to collaborate in making beautiful, meaningful music that can only be created together through innovative use of technology and social media. These sounds, voices, and texts will be integrated into the new work, both virtually and in live performance. Machover and his team from the MIT Media Lab will immerse themselves in Philadelphia through the coming spring and fall. His work is being guided by the imaginations of a wide-range of partners, including the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia High School for the Performing Arts Choir, Sister Cities Girlchoir, Commonwealth Youth Choirs, Al Bustan Seeds of Culture, and Broad Street Ministry, among many others. This period of discovery will include in-depth meetings, music-making, and creative exchanges that will help shape the final composition. Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the world premiere of this piece, which also features the Westminster Symphonic Choir, under the direction of Joe Miller, the choir of the Philadelphia Creative and Performing Arts High School (CAPA), and many additional Community Voices of Philadelphia, a choir especially assembled for this work and performances. The program also includes Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Musorgsky’s Pictures from an Exhibition. Philadelphia Voices is supported by a generous grant from the Knight Foundation. (April 5-7, 10 at Carnegie Hall)

Hannibal Lokumbe: Music Alive Composer-in-Residence with The Philadelphia Orchestra

Hannibal, a composer and accomplished jazz trumpeter, has a long history with The Philadelphia Orchestra. He was one of eight composers commissioned to create works honoring the Orchestra’s Centennial Celebration, and the resultant work, One Heart Beating, premiered in 1999.

Hannibal’s current project with The Philadelphia Orchestra, entitled Healing Tones, is a community commission that will engage Philadelphians in writing a “hymn for the city.” The process, which is taking place now and throughout the 2017-18 season, focuses on healing communities that are experiencing trauma, homelessness, and divisiveness. This includes inmates of the Philadelphia Detention Center, guests of Broad Street Ministry, and the youth of Philadelphia who are the future. Hannibal’s work in the community, ongoing from now and into the 2018-19 season, will result in the world premiere of this new oratorio, Healing Tones, in 2018-19. This commission is made possible thanks to Carole Haas Gravagno. The engagement with these communities is part of the Orchestra’s HEAR initiative (Health, Education, Access, and Research), designed to connect musicians and music with its neighbors and all neighborhoods of Philadelphia.

2017-18 Winter Festival: The British Isles

Each year in January, The Philadelphia Orchestra offers a Winter Festival with a specific focus, often the sounds and culture of one of the world’s musical capitals. In the 2017-18 season Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads a tour to the sea-bound British Isles. “Our Winter Festival is one of my favorite moments,” he says. “I think in January we all feel the need of getting warm in our hearts and in our ears by coming to the concerts and it’s a chance to travel even if we stay in Philadelphia.”

¨      Yannick Nézet-Séguin begins this three-week journey with a special appearance at the keyboard for Elgar’s haunting Piano Quintet with four Philadelphia principals: Concertmaster David Kim, Principal Second Violin Kimberly Fisher, Principal Viola Choong-Jin Chang, and Principal Cello Hai-Ye Ni. The program also features selections from Handel’s Water Music and Britten’s evocative Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. (January 11-13)

¨      In the second week of the British Isles Festival (January 18-20), Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the first Philadelphia Orchestra performances of Peter Maxwell Davies’s An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise. First Associate Concertmaster Juliette Kang is the violin soloist for Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. The program concludes with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (“Scottish”).

¨      Frequent collaborator Fabio Luisi leads the final week of the British Isles tour (January 24-26), opening with Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 (“London”). When Haydn departed Vienna for England, he left behind an amazingly gifted pupil already making a name for himself as a piano virtuoso, 23-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven; legendary soloist Yefim Bronfman joins the Orchestra for his Piano Concerto No. 3. The 2017-18 Winter Festival concludes with a Celtic myth: the Prelude and “Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.

Leonard Bernstein Centenary

The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of America’s most legendary composers: Leonard Bernstein, a giant of works for stage, screen, and concert hall. His ties to Philadelphia include attending the Curtis Institute and of course concerts with The Philadelphia Orchestra, appearing with them as pianist and conductor, both at the Academy of Music and the Robin Hood Dell West (now the Mann Center). Highlights of his vast repertoire will be explored throughout the season. The Philadelphia Orchestra will collaborate on celebrating this centenary with the National Museum of American Jewish History, whose special exhibition, Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music, opens March 16, when the Orchestra performs Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra (“The Age of Anxiety”), and runs through September 2. The Theodore Presser Foundation has supported the Orchestra’s Bernstein Centenary project with a generous gift.

¨      Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads a set of rare performances of the complete score of West Side Story in concert (October 12-15). The Philadelphia Orchestra will be onstage with a cast of talented Broadway vocalists, including artists from the successful performances of Bernstein’s MASS in 2015.

¨      Nézet-Séguin leads Orchestra 2017-18 Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn in Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp, and Percussion, a work Hahn recorded to great critical acclaim. The program also includes Sibelius’s Symphony No. 1 and the U.S. premiere of a newly expanded Suite from Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face, a Philadelphia Orchestra co-commission with the Berlin

Philharmonic, the Danish National Symphony, the London Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, and the Saint Louis Symphony. (December 7-10, 8 at Carnegie Hall)

¨      Nézet-Séguin leads performances of Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, inspired by poet W.H. Auden’s post-war The Age of Anxiety. The work is a musical dialogue among four strangers searching for happiness in an unsettled world. At least one of them finds “the core of faith,” said Bernstein, “which is what one is after—and what I’m after in every work I ever write.” Bernstein himself was

at the piano for the premiere; the soloist here is Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Yannick compares the tortured genius of Bernstein with that of Schumann with the latter’s Symphony No. 4, ending the program with Richard Strauss’s Don Juan. (March 16-18)

¨      Nézet-Séguin leads performances of Bernstein’s exquisite choral plea for peace, Chichester Psalms, on the same program as Machover’s Philadelphia Voices. (April 5-7, 10 at Carnegie Hall)

¨      With the Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront and the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Fabulous Philadelphians launch not just one season, but two―Carnegie Hall’s (October 4) and its own at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall (October 5). Furthering the American touch, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at Carnegie Hall will showcase the gifts of Lang Lang. A special treat awaits Philadelphia’s music lovers, as at Verizon Hall, Emanuel Ax joins Yannick at the keyboard for some works for piano four-hands.

¨      A Family Concert further explores Bernstein’s legacy (February 3). The composer’s daughter Jamie Bernstein will guide families on a musical tour of her father’s more youthful works―Fancy Free, the Overture to Candide, and more.

American Sounds

In addition to the Bernstein works described above, and the Tod Machover commission detailed earlier in this release, The Philadelphia Orchestra journeys through the vibrant, diverse palette that constitutes American Sounds during the 2017-18 season.

¨      Jennifer Higdon’s On a Wire brings the acclaimed ensemble Eighth Blackbird to Verizon Hall for its Philadelphia Orchestra debut led by Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève, who recently extended his contract through the 2019-20 season. (October 19-21)

¨      Nicola Benedetti performs the Violin Concerto Wynton Marsalis created for her, led by Cristian Măcelaru. (November 2-4)

¨      Returning guest conductor James Gaffigan leads a full program of American and American-inspired works: Barber’s Symphony No. 1, Dvořák’s American-influenced Suite in A major, and Gershwin’s Promenade and the flamboyant Concerto in F, the latter showcasing the pianistic flair of Jon Kimura Parker. (November 24-25)

¨      Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner is featured in the world premiere of Samuel Jones’s Flute Concerto, commissioned by The Philadelphia Orchestra and written for Khaner. (January 5-6)

¨      Philadelphian Jennifer Higdon has created a vibrant new work for the stalwarts of the lower brass section, the trombones and tuba, with her Concerto for Low Brass, a Philadelphia Orchestra co-commission. (February 22-24)

¨      Michael Tilson Thomas brings his own Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind with its musings on civilizations and destiny to The Philadelphia Orchestra. Inspired by the words of Carl Sandburg, the work is brought to vivid life by soprano Measha Brueggergosman, who gave the premiere. (March 1-3)

World Premieres for Philadelphia Orchestra Principals

The Philadelphia Orchestra continues its multi-year tradition of creating new works for its stellar principal players:

¨      Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner takes center stage for the world premiere of Samuel Jones’s Flute Concerto, commissioned by The Philadelphia Orchestra and written for Khaner. The commission is made possible by a group of nationally based donors who have been entranced by Khaner’s playing and inspired to increase the literature for solo flute and orchestra. Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado made a stunning debut in 2016 with the Orchestra; he returns to lead a program that also includes Schubert’s Overture to Rosamunde and Brahms’s Symphony No. 2. (January 5-6)

¨      Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Trombone Nitzan Haroz, Co-Principal Trombone Matthew Vaughn, Bass Trombone Blair Bollinger, and Principal Tuba Carol Jantsch are the featured soloists in Philadelphia composer Jennifer Higdon’s new Concerto for Low Brass, a Philadelphia Orchestra co-commission with the Chicago Symphony. This work is paired with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8, several of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances, and Kodály’s Dances of Marosszék, with Cristian Măcelaru on the podium. (February 22-24)


“As we all know, I love opera,” says Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “This is a big part of my life.” The Philadelphia Orchestra music director also becomes music director designate of the Metropolitan Opera in the 2017-18 season, and he brings his operatic talents in full force to Verizon Hall. Nézet-Séguin leads The Philadelphia Orchestra and “some of the greatest voices on the international scene at the moment” in a semi-staged production of Puccini’s Tosca, “an incredibly passionate and red-blooded story of love and despair.” Soprano Sonya Yoncheva makes her Philadelphia Orchestra debut and her debut as Tosca in the famously demanding role. Tenor Yusif Eyvasov sings Cavaradossi and baritone Ambrogio Maestri is Scarpia, both also making Orchestra debuts. The Philadelphia Symphonic Choir, under the direction of Joe Miller, is also featured. Frequent collaborator and critically acclaimed stage director James Alexander returns to set the scene with an innovative symphonic opera production that makes imaginative use of Verizon Hall. Madame Jacqueline Desmarais, one of the Orchestra’s most generous donors from outside Philadelphia, has supported the creation of this new, semi-staged production. (May 12, 16, and 19)

Haydn’s The Seasons

In post-concert discussions, e-mails, and letters from patrons, The Philadelphia Orchestra is frequently asked to perform more Haydn, and of all the works of the prolific master, The Seasons has a special place in Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s heart: It’s the first piece he ever sang as a boy soprano at the age of 10. “It’s always been my dream to conduct The Seasons here in Philadelphia,” he says. “This is one of his greatest masterpieces. … He put everything he had into that score.” Continuing his mission to bring great choral repertoire to Verizon Hall, Nézet-Séguin leads Haydn’s exuberant oratorio for only the second time in The Philadelphia Orchestra’s history, with soprano Regula Mühlemann and tenor Werner Güra (both making Philadelphia Orchestra debuts), bass Matthew Rose, and the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir. (November 16-18)

Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève

In the 2017-18 season, Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève conducts four weeks of subscription programming, with a special focus on the music of French composer Guillaume Connesson. “Connesson is a composer that I adore because he writes music of today, and it is full of great melodies, colorful harmonies in the great French tradition,” says Denève. “It is music that I truly believe in. I have faith that you will love his music as much as I do.” Denève will also lead two Family Concerts and the traditional New Year’s Eve Concert. Earlier this month, he extended his tenure as principal guest conductor for three more years, through the 2019-20 season.

¨      Stéphane Denève leads Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and the Philadelphia Orchestra premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s On a Wire, for six soloists and orchestra, featuring the Grammy-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird. (October 19-21)

¨      Denève kicks off a year-long exploration of works by his fellow Frenchman Connesson with Maslenitsa, inspired by a pre-Lenten Russian festival and the first of three Connesson works to be heard this season. Gil Shaham joins for Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Ballet music—Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Tchaikovsky’s Suite from The Sleeping Beauty—completes the program. (October 26-28)

¨      Denève offers another Philadelphia premiere from Guillaume Connesson, his Flammenschrift, a tribute to German music. Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn returns for Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1. The program also includes Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration and Ravel’s La Valse. (April 19-21)

¨      Denève is joined by Nicholas Angelich for Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Egyptian”). Denève also leads the Orchestra in Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, Respighi’s The Pines of Rome, and a third work by Connesson, E chiaro nella valle il fiume appare. (April 26-28)

¨      Denève will also lead the traditional New Year’s Eve Concert for the first time. (December 31)

¨      Denève also guest conducts two special Family Concerts: The Music of John Williams (October 28) and an inventive and reimagined Peter and the Wolf, featuring Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn (April 21).

Hilary Hahn: Artist-in-Residence

Hilary Hahn made her Philadelphia Orchestra debut at age 13 and built a relationship with the city and the Orchestra during her years at the Curtis Institute. This season the Orchestra welcomes her back and honors the incredible breadth of the artist and arts advocate she’s become with performances of works by Bernstein, Dvořák, and Prokofiev. She’ll perform for the wide range of Philadelphia Orchestra audiences, making a special guest appearance on a Family Concert for some of the Orchestra’s youngest listeners, performing for the eZseatU college audience, and connecting with Philadelphia offstage in support of the Orchestra’s HEAR initiatives.

¨      Hilary Hahn will be featured in Dvořák’s Violin Concerto with Philadelphia Orchestra Assistant Conductor Kensho Watanabe in the annual Free College Night Concert, which launches the eZseatU season. Please note that tickets will not be available for this concert until September. (September 19)

¨      Hahn performs Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp, and Percussion, a work she recorded to great critical acclaim; Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts. (December 7-10, 8 at Carnegie Hall)

¨      Hahn returns for Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in a program led by Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève. (April 19-21)

¨      Hahn performs as special guest in the Family Concert Peter and the Wolf, with Denève. (April 21)

¨      From time to time throughout the season Hahn will participate in various HEAR initiatives throughout the community, working with schools and other venues, in a schedule that will be released at a later date.

 Additional Subscription Highlights

¨      Yannick Nézet-Séguin opens the subscription season joined by the distinguished Emanuel Ax, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27, K. 595. The program also includes Dvořák’s Othello Overture and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. (October 6-8)

¨      Nicola Benedetti makes her Philadelphia Orchestra subscription debut with the jazz-inspired Violin Concerto Wynton Marsalis wrote for her, a highlight of the multi-year exploration of American Sounds. The Women of the Westminster Symphonic Choir join for Holst’s The Planets. Cristian Măcelaru, well-known to Philadelphia audiences, leads the musical forces. (November 2-4)

¨      Yannick Nézet-Séguin has said Bruckner is the only composer he feels as if he had conducted in a previous life. He leads Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 and Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major, with Concertmaster David Kim as soloist. (November 9-11)

¨      Guest conductor James Gaffigan leads a program of quintessentially American music. Jon Kimura Parker returns for Gershwin’s extraordinary Piano Concerto in F. The program also includes Gershwin’s Promenade (Walking the Dog), Dvořák’s Suite in A major for Orchestra (“American”), and Barber’s Symphony No. 1. (November 24-25)

¨      Frequent guest Donald Runnicles leads Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 (“Prague”), orchestral selections from Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Wagner’s Overture to Tannhäuser, and Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, featuring the uniquely lush Philadelphia strings. (November 30 & December 2)

¨      Former Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Christoph Eschenbach returns to lead Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz, and Schumann’s Cello Concerto with returning soloist Alisa Weilerstein. (February 1-3)

¨      Conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, widely noted as an up-and-coming conductor, makes her Philadelphia Orchestra debut with Menahem Pressler performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, K. 488, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, featuring soprano Janai Brugger. (February 8-10)

¨      Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Joshua Bell join forces for three performances (February 15-16 and 18) of Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 (“Leningrad”). Cristian Măcelaru guest conducts a special fourth performance, pairing Bell and Wieniawski with Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 and Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3. (February 17)

¨      Michael Tilson Thomas returns to conduct his own composition Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, featuring soprano Measha Brueggergosman, who sang the world premiere. The work is paired with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pathétique”). (March 1-3)

¨      Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the U.S. premiere of Michel van der Aa’s Violin Concerto, performed by returning soloist Janine Jansen, for whom the work was written. The program concludes with Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, underscoring the Orchestra’s rich relationship with the composer. (March 8-10, 13 at Carnegie Hall)

¨      Rising star conductor Lahav Shani, recently appointed as Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s successor in Rotterdam, makes his Philadelphia Orchestra debut leading a program featuring Principal Trumpet David Bilger in Christian Lindberg’s Akbank Bunka for trumpet and chamber orchestra. Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 complete the program. (March 22-24)

¨      Following their Grammy-nominated Deutsche Grammophon recording Rachmaninoff Variations, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Daniil Trifonov, and The Philadelphia Orchestra collaborate again for performances of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concertos No. 2 and 3, each performed twice over four concerts, paired with Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. These performances will be recorded live. (April 12-15)

¨      Period ensemble expert Nicholas McGegan returns for an intimate performance of Italian-style Baroque and neo-classical music, including Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances for the Lute, Suite No. 1; Locatelli’s Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 7, No. 1; Rossini’s Overture to La Cenerentola; and Stravinsky’s Suite from Pulcinella. Peter Richard Conte performs Handel’s Organ Concerto in F major, Op. 4, No. 4, on the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ. (May 4-5)

¨      Yannick Nézet-Séguin ends the season on a personal note with four performances with pianist Hélène Grimaud, with whom he has a particularly close artistic relationship, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 and Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1, combined respectively with Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. (May 10-11 and May 17 & 20)

Special Events

Special non-subscription performances in the 2017-18 season include:

¨      Amadeus: Some of the most glorious music ever written; a mystery full of passion, jealousy, and (possibly) murder; plus a live soundtrack performed by the incomparable Philadelphia Orchestra. It just doesn’t get any better than Amadeus, the enthralling story of composer Antonio Salieri’s crippling envy of the vastly more talented Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As the (fictionalized but immensely entertaining) plot plays out onscreen, you’ll hear excerpts from Mozart’s dazzling symphonies, serenades, and piano concertos, as well as The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and the Requiem that he tried desperately to finish as he lay dying. Richard Kaufman conducts in his Philadelphia Orchestra debut. (September 21-23)

¨      Yannick Nézet-Séguin celebrates the start of his sixth season with The Philadelphia Orchestra joined by the Orchestra’s always-welcome colleague Emanuel Ax at the 2017 Opening Night Concert and Gala, celebrating Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, and including works for piano four-hands. (October 5)

¨      For the second time, The Philadelphia Orchestra presents a concert by one of its partners in China, the National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra, led by its music director, Lü Jia, and featuring violinist Ning Feng and cellist Gautier Capuçon. (November 1)

¨      Handel’s Messiah led by Cristian Măcelaru and featuring the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir, with a second performance added by popular demand (December 21 and 22)

¨      The annual New Year’s Eve Concert led by Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève. (December 31)

¨      The Academy of Music celebrates its 161st Anniversary with the annual Concert and Ball, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. (January 27)

Guest Conductors and Conductor Residencies

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts 14 weeks of subscription programming in his sixth season, plus numerous special concerts and events. Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève leads four weeks of subscription programming (October 19-21, October 26-28, April 19-21, and April 26-28). The Philadelphia Orchestra enjoys long, collaborative

relationships with many of the world’s most esteemed conductors, and is also known for its recognition and encouragement of young podium talent. Returning in the 2017-18 season to lead subscription concerts are Cristian Măcelaru (November 2-4, February 17, and February 22-24), James Gaffigan (November 24-25), Donald Runnicles (November 30 and December 2), Pablo Heras-Casado (January 5-6), Fabio Luisi (January 24-26), Christoph Eschenbach (February 1-3), Michael Tilson Thomas (March 1-3), and Nicholas McGegan (May 4-5). Making their Philadelphia Orchestra debuts are Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (February 8-10) and Lahav Shani (March 22-24) 

Guest Artists and Collaborators

Returning soloists in the 2017-18 season include cellist Alisa Weilerstein (February 1-3); organist Peter Richard Conte (May 4-5); pianists Emanuel Ax (October 6-8), Jon Kimura Parker (November 24-25), Yefim Bronfman (January 24-26), Menahem Pressler (February 8-10), Jean-Yves Thibaudet (March 16-18), Daniil Trifonov (April 12-15), Nicholas Angelich (April 26-28), and Hélène Grimaud (May 10-11 and May 17 & 20); and violinists 2017-18 Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn (December 7-10 and April 19-21), Gil Shaham (October 26-28), Joshua Bell (February 15-18), Janine Jansen (March 8-10), and Nicola Benedetti in her subscription debut (November 2-4).

The Philadelphia Orchestra also welcomes back the Westminster Symphonic Choir directed by Joe Miller (April 5-7) and the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir, also directed by Joe Miller (November 16-18 and May 12, 16, and 19). Women of the Westminster Symphonic Choir also perform November 2-4. Community Voices of Philadelphia will be an ensemble especially assembled for Tod Machover’s Philadelphia Voices. (April 5-7)

James Alexander, the producer for multiple Academy of Music Anniversary Concerts and for the acclaimed version of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in 2013 and 2015, returns for a symphonic opera production of Puccini’s Tosca. The super-charged ensemble Eighth Blackbird makes its Philadelphia Orchestra debut in Jennifer Higdon’s On the Wire (October 19-21). Other debuts this season include sopranos Regula Mühlemann (November 16-18) and Sonya Yoncheva (May 12, 16, and 19); tenors Werner Güra (November 16-18) and Yusif Eyvasov (May 12, 16, and 19); and baritone Ambrogio Maestri (May 12, 16, and 19). Making Philadelphia Orchestra subscription debuts are violinist Nicola Benedetti (November 2-4), and sopranos Janai Brugger (February 8-10) and Measha Brueggergosman (March 1-3).

Philadelphia Orchestra Musicians in the Spotlight

Eleven of the Orchestra’s players appear as featured soloists this season: Concertmaster David Kim (November 9-11, January 11-13), Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner (January 5-6), Principal Second Violin Kimberly Fisher (January 11-13), Principal Viola Choong-Jin Chang (January 11-13), Principal Cello Hai-Ye Ni (January 11-13), First Associate Concertmaster Juliette Kang (January 18-20), Principal Trombone Nitzan Haroz (February 22-24), Co-Principal Trombone Matthew Vaughn in his Philadelphia Orchestra debut (February 22-24), Bass Trombone Blair Bollinger in his Orchestra subscription debut (February 22-24), Principal Tuba Carol Jantsch (February 22-24), and Principal Trumpet David Bilger (March 22-24).

The Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

The Philadelphia Orchestra gave its first performance at Carnegie Hall in 1902. In the more than 100 years since, it has enjoyed a long and celebrated relationship with the world-famous venue and now returns annually for a subscription series. Nézet-Séguin and the Fabulous Philadelphians are delighted to open Carnegie Hall’s season with Lang Lang at the keyboard, and to perform there three more times during the 2017-18 season. Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) with Hilary Hahn and Chichester Psalms, Machover’s Philadelphia Voices, Adès’s Suite from Powder Her Face, and van der Aa’s Violin Concerto with Janine Jansen are among the highlights. (October 4, December 8, March 13, and April 10)

Holiday Traditions

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s holiday offerings in the 2017-18 season begin with the Halloween Organ Extravaganza, starring the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ with Peter Richard Conte at the manuals―and pedals (October 27). The Glorious Sound of Christmas concerts are an annual Philadelphia Orchestra tradition; audience favorite Bramwell Tovey returns to conduct four performances (December 14-17). Cristian Măcelaru leads the annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, with the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir (December 21-22). Stéphane Denève leads the festivities for the New Year’s Eve concert (December 31).

HEAR Initiative

HEAR is a portfolio of integrated initiatives that connects musicians and music with neighbors and neighborhoods and audiences of all ages and backgrounds. HEAR promotes Health and wellness, champions music Education, eliminates barriers to Accessing the Orchestra, and maximizes impact in the community through Research throughout the Philadelphia region. The award-winning Collaborative Learning Department serves over 50,000 students, families, young people, and citizens each year. The various programs of HEAR have garnered support from the William Penn Foundation, the Neubauer Family Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and numerous other supporters from around the country.

Selected examples of HEAR initiatives follow.

Broad Street Ministry

At Broad Street Ministry, The Philadelphia Orchestra offers musical experiences that provide hope, inspiration, and solace for those experiencing trauma such as homelessness and health crises. On a weekly basis, guests at Broad Street Ministry join with music therapists from Temple University and musicians from The Philadelphia Orchestra to share music and life together for song-writing, improvisation, and listening.

Philadelphia Detention Center

Hannibal Lokumbe’s work in the Philadelphia Detention Center is part of the HEAR program focused on healing communities that are experiencing trauma, incarceration, and divisiveness. His visits to the Center with Philadelphia Orchestra musicians bring moments of beauty into the lives of those who live there and provide a way for them to have a voice in the creation of his new work.

Family Concerts

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Family Concerts are designed to spark a lifelong love of music in the youngest audience members. The 2017-18 season offers four Saturday morning programs for children ages 6-12 and their families: The Music of John Williams, led by Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève (October 28); the Christmas Kids’ Spectacular! (December 2), an annual audience favorite, led this season by Aram Demirjian; Bernstein: 100 Years Young, a celebration of Leonard Bernstein, with Assistant Conductor Kensho Watanabe and special guest Jamie Bernstein, the legendary conductor and composer’s daughter (February 3); and an inventive new Peter and the Wolf, featuring Denève and Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn (April 21). All concerts are preceded by Pre-Concert Adventures, interactive explorations of each concert’s featured works, composers, and instruments.

School Concerts

School Concerts introduce 10,000 students in grades 3-5 to the powerful art form of live orchestral music and The Philadelphia Orchestra with a program designed to integrate musical concepts into existing classroom curriculum. These 45-minute full orchestra performances are open to school groups and home schools throughout the Delaware Valley area. Concerts are free-of-charge to School District of Philadelphia Schools thanks to a gift from Billy Joel. (February 20, 27, and March 20)


The Philadelphia Orchestra’s innovative LiveNote app, a platform that allows concertgoers to access custom-created information about the performed musical works in real time on their mobile devices, will be enabled for specifically selected concerts throughout the 2017-18 season. The app presents users with a variety of musical, emotional, and historical highlights, as well as libretto text and translations. Use of the app is optional for patrons and is not necessary to enjoy the performances.

Summer 2017 with The Philadelphia Orchestra

Before the start of the 2017-18 season, The Philadelphia Orchestra returns to its three summer homes. Opened for the Orchestra and the New York City Ballet in 1966, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in upstate New York was named Best Outdoor Music Venue by USA Today in 2015. Tickets for the Orchestra’s three-week residency are currently on sale. For more information, visit spac.org. The Orchestra joins its Philadelphia summer home, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, for special performances during the summer. For more information, visit manncenter.org. High atop the Rocky Mountains, the Orchestra marks its 11th summer at the Bravo! Vail festival in Colorado. Hailed as one of the Top 10 “Can’t Miss” Classical Music Festivals in the U.S. by NPR, Bravo! Vail is the only festival in North America to host three acclaimed symphony orchestras in a single season. For more information, visit bravovail.org.

2017-18 Season Subscriptions

New in the 2017-18 season: All Wednesday and Thursday night subscription concerts begin at 7:30 PM.

Subscriptions for the 2017-18 season are now on sale. New and renewing subscribers may purchase subscriptions through Ticket Philadelphia by calling 215.893.1955 or visiting philorch.org/subscribe. Renewing subscribers will receive a special mailing of renewal information immediately and can renew now.

Subscribers will continue to have the benefit of fee-free exchanges on all subscription tickets for the 2017-18 season. A monthly payment plan is available for subscribers, which allows them to split their subscription payment into monthly installments and an option to pay half now and half later. Other subscriber benefits include free ticket replacement, priority seating, and special promotional offers. Subscribers also have the option of purchasing additional individual tickets to any of the season’s subscription concerts or special concerts now with their series purchase prior to individual concert tickets going on sale to the general public. Discount parking is also available to subscribers.

Orchestra subscribers may renew their subscriptions through early May. Individual concert tickets will go on sale to the public in August. The Orchestra offers subscription packages of six concerts for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings as well as Sunday matinees. Packages of nine concerts are offered for Friday afternoons and Saturday evenings. Also available at this time are the popular Create-Your-Own 6-concert series, designed for audiences who like the flexibility of choosing their own concerts, and the Family Concert series.

Subscription packages range from as little as $30 for Family Concert series seats in the 3rd Tier, to $1,248 for a Saturday evening, 9-concert series, with premium box seats located in Tier 1. A Ticket Philadelphia processing fee of $20 is added to each subscription order.

To access the full press kit for the 2017-18 season, please visit philorch.org/press-room.

About The Philadelphia Orchestra

About Yannick Nézet-Séguin


Patricia O’Kelly

phone: 202.999.9806

e-mail: pokelly@philorch.org


Liz Baker

phone: 215.790.7743

e-mail: lbaker@philorch.org