Superstar pianist Yuja Wang will perform all four Rachmaninoff concertos plus the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Family concerts are returning. Works of Black artists are slated, including a rare appearance of Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite. And a new piece by John Luther Adams about humanity’s impact on the Earth will receive its world premiere.
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2022-23 season will be the ensemble’s first season of live concerts and full operations since the start of the pandemic, the orchestra announced Thursday. Offerings include new scores, tried-and-true standards, and the reprise of works the orchestra unveiled years ago, like William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, premiered by the orchestra and conductor Leopold Stokowski in 1934.
“The focus is this real moment of return. We’re back,” said Matías Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of the newly combined Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center Inc.
The 2022-23 Philadelphia arts season begins in September.
Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead 10 weeks of programs in Verizon Hall plus several more weeks on the road, with the orchestra hosting podium debuts by up-and-comers Dalia Stasevska and Roderick Cox, and the return of conductors Karina Canellakis, Herbert Blomstedt, and Nathalie Stutzmann.
Plans for 2022-23 are being unveiled even as the orchestra grapples with audiences hesitant to return to live performances because of COVID-19. Verizon Hall is filled to an average of 40% of capacity in the current season, though the average for the past month has moved closer to 60%, an orchestra spokesperson said. And yet, the orchestra, like all arts groups, must set plans for a new season without knowing the trajectory of the pandemic and audience attitudes.
The pandemic has shown “the great resilience of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the orchestra’s great capacity to change,” says Tarnopolsky. “Of course, we don’t know exactly what the future holds, but we didn’t know what the future held on March 11, 2020, and we adapted and kept the music going and kept our commitment going to our musicians and our staff — and we created new audiences. What I can tell you is that we are going to be there with this full and rich season.”
The total number of concerts next season is down slightly from 2019-20, but the orchestra also expects to add concerts after this week’s initial season announcement. Digital Stage concerts will continue.
Other Kimmel Center resident companies have also announced their 2022-23 artists and repertoire in recent weeks.
It will be a storybook season for the Philadelphia Ballet, presenting not only the traditional Nutcracker, but also Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, and Coppélia, as well as new works and a Balanchine program.
Opera Philadelphia starts in the fall with its O Festival and ends with a Yuval Sharon production of Puccini’s La bohème in which the story and music are presented in reverse order.
The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society features bass-baritone Davóne Tines in a recital that explores the musical setting of the Mass. The series also presents its usual generous roster of pianists, vocalists, and string quartets.
And the Kimmel’s Broadway series announced 16 shows, including Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Six, TINA — The Tina Turner Musical, and a new production of 1776.
The Philadelphia Orchestra will continue its advocacy of Florence Price — an artistic focus that paid off this month when the composer helped the ensemble and Nézet-Séguin each win their first Grammy Awards. Next season, the orchestra will perform the Violin Concerto Nos. 1 and 2, with Randall Goosby as soloist. Price’s Symphony No. 3 is on another program, and she is the topic of a family concert led by Lina Gonzalez-Granados.
Four family concerts are planned. The first, in October, reestablishes the series — which shut down at the start of the pandemic — with a classic: Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.
The orchestra has become more responsive to social change and world events in recent years, but its artistic plans have not changed in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Tarnopolsky said. No Russian works have been dropped, and neither conductor Valery Gergiev nor soprano Anna Netrebko, both vocally pro-Putin in the past, had been engaged to appear with the orchestra next season.
“There are extraordinary contributions of Russian music and culture and literature in the world and we will continue to reflect those,” said Tarnopolsky. “Perhaps it’s not the moment to be playing the 1812 Overture — we need to be very sensitive to the moment. And any artist that wraps themselves around support for what Russia’s doing in Ukraine is not going to be performing with us.”
Works and performances by women are heavily featured in the 2022-23 lineup. The orchestra — which was criticized at the start of the #MeToo movement for neglecting the artistic contributions of women — will host pianists Beatrice Rana in the orchestra’s first performances of the Clara Schumann Piano Concerto and Yefim Bronfman in the first U.S. performances of Elena Firsova’s Piano Concerto. Picaflor, a major new score by orchestra composer-in-residence Gabriela Lena Frank, will receive its premiere.
Soloists during the season include pianists Tony Siqi Yun and Daniil Trifonov; cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason; soprano Pretty Yende; and violinists Jennifer Koh and Augustin Hadelich.
Also notable next season are several significant changes to the roster of orchestra members. David Bilger, principal trumpeter since 1995, will leave at the end of this season to join the faculty of Northwestern University. Principal bassist Harold Robinson is retiring after the summer.
Christine Lim, a member of the orchestra’s second violin section, recently won the audition for associate concertmaster, and Pedro Fernandez will join the orchestra as associate principal percussionist in the fall. Gabriel Polinsky has been named associate principal bassist.
The conducting roster is also turning over. Assistant conductor Erina Yashima and conducting fellow Lina Gonzalez-Granados complete their terms at the end of the 2021—22 season. Two new conducting fellows, Austin Chanu and Tristan Rais-Sherman, begin in September.
Opening night, featuring Nézet-Séguin in a program with BalletX and pianist Lang Lang, is set for Sept. 28 in Verizon Hall.
Information: philorch.org, 215-893-1999.