The Winston-Salem Symphony is ready to welcome audiences back to the concert hall for live performances for its 2021-2022 season.
Timothy Redmond, the symphony’s music director, said the upcoming season will present a kaleidoscope of music in color that will include Brahms, Gershwin, Steep Canyon Rangers bluegrass band, superstar saxophonist Branford Marsalis and the return of “A Carolina Christmas,” featuring a big band holiday.
Also, the Winston-Salem Symphony will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2022.
“We can’t wait to see you all in the concert halls beginning in September,” Redmond said. “It is hard to express how much we have missed performing live before you all. There is nothing like feeling the support and enthusiasm of our audiences. We think that Kaleidoscope is the perfect name for this season as we will be able to enjoy live music, in brilliant color, once again.”
Subscriptions go on sale June 15 and can be purchased online now at wssymphony.org or by calling the Symphony Box Office at 336-464-0145. Single tickets will go on sale Aug. 2. Dates and programs are subject to change.
The season will open with “The Lark Ascending” concert Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 in the Stevens Center of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts as as part of the symphony’s Classics Series. Violinist Steven Moeckel will be featured for a rousing performance of Vaughan Williams’ uplifting “Lark Ascending.” Other pieces are Jean Sibelius’ sublime one-movement Symphony No. 7 and Vaughan Williams’ serene Symphony No. 5.
Redmond said that Symphony No. 7 is an unusual symphony.
“It’s the very last one that the Finnish composer Sibelius wrote,” Redmond said. “His symphony No. 7 is like a low burn. The light gets brighter and brighter, and you end up with a smile on your face.”
The symphony stated that “Margaret Sandresky’s “Gaudeamus” will take you to celebratory heights, honoring the Symphony’s 75th anniversary, Salem Academy and College’s 250th anniversary, and Sandresky’s 100th birthday.” This piece was co-commissioned by Salem Academy and College and Winston-Salem Symphony.
Redmond said the symphony wanted to start the season by celebrating a feeling of getting back to normal, doing what everyone with the symphony loves to do and performing before audiences.
“We wanted to create a mood for this first concert that everyone just feels welcomed back,” he said.
On Nov. 13 and Nov. 14 in the Sevens Center, “Wild(e) Dreams” offers Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, Thomas Ades’ “Three Studies from Couperin,” Franz Schreker’s “The Birthday of the Infanta” and pianist Michael Lewin as guest artist.
Schreker “writes in a style that actually sounds a little bit like the great Hollywood golden age,” Redmond said. “He’s dramatic. He’s exciting. He paints a picture.”
The January program “Celebrate” on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 in the Stevens Center will kick off with Shostakovich’s bright ad spirited “Festive Overture” then continue with Romanian pianist Alexandra Dariescu in Rachmaninoff’s stirring “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” as well as the boisterous folk tunes of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.
On March 5 and March 6 in the Stevens Center, the legendary saxophonist Branford Marsalis will headline with the recent Saxophone Concerto by John Adams, who is among the world’s most-performed composers. There will also be performances of Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” and the 1947 Fourth Symphony of African American composer William Grant Still.
The Winston-Salem Chorus, directed by Christopher Gilliam, will join the symphony on April 23 and April 24 in Reynolds Auditorium, featuring Haydn’s “The Creation.”
“Haydn’s rich tapestry of harmony, orchestration and word-painting brings to life the texts of Genesis, Psalms and Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ in a way unparalleled throughout history,” the symphony stated. “‘The Creation’ is a work of the Enlightenment in which science and religion sit happily side by side.”
For the final Classics Series concert on May 21 and 22 in the Stevens Center, classical music’s comedy megastars Igudesman & Joo will bring their hilarious brand of musical mayhem to Winston-Salem in the program “Happy” in the Stevens Center.
“All of the greatest artists and orchestras want to work with them,” Redmond said. “Basically, they write the most hilarious music based on things that already exist.”
In addition, there will be a 75th Anniversary Gala at 5 p.m. May 22, 2022.
The Winston-Salem Symphony is reminding concertgoers that there has been a change to the Classics Series concert’s schedule. Concerts will be on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, not Sunday afternoon and Tuesday night.
“We announced this change for the 2020-21 season, but since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our concerts, we wanted to bring this to your attention once again,” E. Merritt Vale, the president and chief executive of the Winston-Salem Symphony, said. “We realize this is a big change and rest assured we came to decision after extensive consideration.”
The Pops Series will kick off Nov. 27 and 28 in Reynolds Auditorium for “A Carolina Christmas with the Camel City Jazz Orchestra.” The concert will include a carol sing-a-long and a visit from Santa.
On Feb. 5, Steep Canyon Rangers, North Carolina’s Grammy Award-winning bluegrass band, will return to the Winston-Salem Symphony stage for a night of foot-stomping favorites as well as recently released material.
The Pops Series will conclude with “Sounds of Cinema: Heroes & Villains on April 9 in Reynolds Auditorium, when the Winston-Salem Symphony will return to the music of the big screen — from Batman to Bond and from Darth Vader to Jaws.
New this year, as part of the 2021-22 season, will be the Ignite Family Series, an interactive experience created for the whole family. The Winston-Salem Symphony will combine the narrative of theater with the magic of music in three concerts.
The first concert in the series will be “Green Eggs & Ham” Sept. 26 in Hanesbrands Theatre @ The Arts Council, showcasing Rob Kapilow’s setting of Dr. Seuss’s classic, “Green Eggs and Ham.”
On Feb. 6 in Reynolds Auditorium, audiences will get the opportunity to find out how an orchestra works in “Piece of the Puzzle,” as the Winston-Salem Symphony explores each section of the orchestra to discover the pieces of the musical puzzle. This concert was created especially for the Winston-Salem Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestra.
The final concert in the Ignite Family Series will be the U.S. premiere of “My Great Orchestral Adventure” on April 10 in Reynolds Auditorium, offering a musical time machine, singing and dancing, as well as a full symphony orchestra.
During this program, Redmond will introduce his brother, Tom Redmond.
“He will be performing with me for ‘My Great Orchestral Adventure,’ which we are bringing to you from the Royal Albert Hall in London,” Redmond said.
The symphony’s 2021-22 season schedule offers additional treats.
The world premiere of “The Chevalier,” with music by Joseph Bologne and Bill Barclay, who is writer and director of this play, will be presented Sept. 11 and Sept. 12 in Reynolds Auditorium. This is a collaboration among Concert Theatre Works, the North Carolina Black Repertory Company and the Winston-Salem Symphony.
“It chronicles a period during the life of 18th-century Black violinist, composer, swordsman, and activist, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-George,” Redmond said.
The Winston-Salem Symphony Chorus, directed by Christopher Gilliam, will present “Choral Surprise” in the fall 2021.
On Dec. 7, “Messiah,” a Christmastime tradition will return for live performances in the sanctuary of Centenary United Methodist Church.
There will also be a free concert for the community Feb. 26 in Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University, when Redmond and Karen Ni Bhroin, assistant conductor for the symphony, will be co-conductors. The concert will also feature winners of the Peter Perret Youth Talent Search and a performance of a new work by a young local composer.
Although the symphony will still livestream some of its concerts, Redmond said he is happy to return to the concert hall.
He said the symphony recently invited some of its supporters to come and listen to the end of one of its recording sessions for a concert.
“That was 75 people in an 1,800-seat hall. It was at Reynolds (Auditorium),” Redmond said. “Obviously, the orchestra played in a totally different way — just to have an audience.”