This is a pivotal year for the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. After a much heralded 12-year tenure at the musical helm, Maestro Josep Caballé-Domenech moved on to other musical ventures, including being appointed as the the first Conductor Laureate in Colorado Springs Philharmonic history. As the Philharmonic looks to its next chapter, the organization is in no rush to find the right chemistry for its next musical director. Part of its process is hosting guest conductors to work and perform with the orchestra. With 10 guest conductors scheduled, the Philharmonic has an ambitious schedule lined up and all the makings of an exciting and adventurous season.
“We’re in a period of truly exciting change,” says Nathan Newbrough, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. “This is the most important time in our history, and this is a time of massive change for the arts in general, as well as our long-standing Philharmonic. We’re leading up to our 100th anniversary, and leading up to the selection of a new music director. So we we want people to be there with us, whether it’s your first time or you’ve been attending for years.”
Aside from the pending change of music director, Newbrough notes the most significant change to the brass section in many years. There are new principal trumpet and horn players along with other new faces. Newbrough says such changes can make a dramatic shift in the sound of the orchestra.
He also notes an emphasis on reaching, representing and making the Philharmonic more accessible to diverse audiences. “The world of classical music has a long-standing problem with this, and it goes back generations. So we have work to do, and we are taking that on,” he says. “This season, people will see a more representative list of composers and artists than they’ve ever seen before — that’s not just in the pops series, but in the classical performances as well. Across the board, you’re going to see a more representative group on stage, and that’s quite exciting.”
When it comes to the new future music director, Newbrough says connection is paramount. “We’re interested in finding chemistry with the right person,” Newbrough says. “It’s all about how they work with the musicians, how they relate to our players and our audience and the sheer inspiration that we’re always looking for.”
Both this season and next will feature a full schedule of guest conductors.“The Philharmonic is taking this time to get acquainted with some remarkable guests,” Newbrough says.
That means exciting, adventurous and creative programs ahead for the Philharmonic and its listeners. Each program this season was chosen by its guest conductor, and Newbrough says those guests were asked for their creativity with few guidelines. “They’ve put together some really diverse and impactful programs with some new works that will be unfamiliar but really accessible,” he says. “There are pieces of music that may open audience’s eyes to the world of contemporary composers they may not have had a chance to hear before. There is also some standard repertoire that we haven’t done in a while. The pops is going to be amazing. There is really something here for everyone and every kind of taste. I can’t remember being so excited about a season.”
Want some name dropping?
“If people look through the programs, they’re going to see all the names they know: Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Berlioz’s Symphony. Fantastique is on the program, the New World Symphony of Dvorak. It’s all here. It’s so cool. The Organ Symphony of Saint-Saens hasn’t been done here in 16 years. Also there are unfamiliar names for many, but they are giants in the world of classical music: Joan Tower, Florence Price, Lily Boulanger, Mason Bates, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. These are awe-inspiring names in the world of classical music, incredibly gifted.”
So how does it all shape up for the listener? In a broad sense, the Philharmonic season is arranged by several series. Masterworks typically features well known composers and music you would most expect from an American symphony orchestra. The Signature Series features a collection of more intimate performances at the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS. The Philharmonic Pops draws from a wide range of popular music, film and culture. And the Holiday Performances celebrate seasonal traditions at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Season ticket subscribers can choose each or all of those specific series, or listeners can mix and match their own multi-show bundles. With that in mind, we’ve curated a few options to tailor your Philharmonic experience by preferred style. And it’s worth noting that new subscribers can get half off of ticket packages through September.
That said, here are some creative ways to dive into the Philharmonic’s 97th season.
The Philharmonic for Lovers
Three shows perfect for date night.
1. Tchaikovsky, Nov. 4-5
“You’re getting the Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini, which has some of the best known melodies in classical music, and it just makes you melt,” Newbrough says.
2. The Organ Symphony, March 23-24
Be moved by the likes of the exhilarating finale of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony and contemporary composer Anna Clyne’s powerful Dance for Cello and Orchestra.
3. The Princess Bride, Feb. 9-10
Watch the classic music while the Philharmonic plays the entire musical score live. Who doesn’t love “Wuv. Twu wuv”?
The Philharmonic for the New Adventurer
Three shows perfect for new listeners.
1. Marvel vs. DC, Oct. 6-7
All the superhero music you know and love from the movies. You might want to wear your cape.
2. Troupe Vertigo: Espana! March 8-9
During this all-Spanish program, the acrobats of Troupe Vertigo will perform its energetic cirque choreography.
3. Audience Mixtape: Carmina Burana, April 4-5
No one knows what the exact program will be. With the Green Box Art’s Scott RC Levy as host, audience members choose each musical selection on the spot in a fully interactive performance. The only sure thing is that the evening will end with the powerful Carmina Burana.
The Philharmonic for the Classical Adventurer
Inspiration for classical music lovers.
1. Symphonie Fantastique, April 13-14
Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique is intense and engrossing, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Danse negre draws on West African inspiration.
2. Mozart and Prokofiev, Oct. 21-22
“Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony is so interesting because it’s Prokofiev, who is an established 20th century composer, sounding at his most classical — but it also has so much energy in it,” Newbrough says.
3. Beethoven, Feb. 24-25
“Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, ‘Pastoral’ has just as much energy to it as it does pastoral feeling,” Newbrough says. “For people who have never heard ‘Revive’ for Koto and Shakuhachi in live concert, this is going to be amazing. And, as you can tell from the title, Mason Bates’ Alternative Energy has huge energy.”
Philharmonic Deeper Cuts
Three programs featuring rare and unique works.
1. Price and Beethoven, April 27-28
“That program has Joan Tower, Florence Price and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, which is not the first one you think of,” Newbrough says. “But Beethoven had come into his own at that point as a mature composer, and it’s just filled with light and energy.”
2. The Organ Symphony, March 23-24
OK, it’s listed for lovers too, but this program features some unique pieces. “For some reason the Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis doesn’t get done enough, and the Organ Symphony really doesn’t get performed as much, so this program is going to be great,” Newbrough says.
3. Rachmaninoff, Jan. 27-28
You’ll hear contemporary composer Shawn Okpebkolo’s Zoom, along with Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who wrote many film scores for early Hollywood. “You can hear the influences of Hollywood in this Concerto for Violin,” Newbrough says. “It’s immense and it’s lovely and people should hear it.”
Find the complete Philharmonic schedule and more info at csphilharmonic.org.