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High-caliber Masterworks: Rogue Valley Symphony’s 2022-23 season

Rogue Valley Symphony Music Director Martin Majkut. MT file photo

The Rogue Valley Symphony announced its 2022/2023 performance season and ticket availability last Tuesday, July 5, featuring bold programs and world-renowned soloists. With six ambitious Masterworks performances and one special event, RVS is sure to inspire the southern Oregon community at three venues throughout the Rogue Valley, including the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall in Ashland, Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center, and the Craterian Theater in Medford.

“Our next season is our boldest season yet. It reflects the confidence and trust I have in the artistic abilities of our orchestra to deliver performances of the highest caliber,” said Music Director Martin Majkut in a press release. “These programs will delight and enrich in equal measure, bringing back memories and opening new horizons.”

The first Masterworks concert in September 2022 brings clarinetist Anthony McGill to the Rogue Valley. Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times), McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. He serves as the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic — that orchestra’s first African-American principal player — and maintains a dynamic international solo and chamber music career. McGill will perform a concerto written specifically for him by composer Richard Danielpour, “From the Mountaintop,” inspired by the words and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This concert also includes Franz Schubert’s luscious “Unfinished Symphony,” and Richard Strauss’s profound tone poem, “Death and Transfiguration.” Performances for this program take place Friday, Sept. 9, in Ashland; Saturday, Sept. 10, in Medford; and Sunday, Sept. 11, in Grants Pass.

The delayed celebration of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday animates the symphony’s October Masterworks concert. Pianist Michael Stephen Brown joins RVS to perform Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” and Brown’s own homage to Beethoven in his “Concerto for Piano and Strings.” Brown has been hailed by The New York Times as “one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performer-composers.” His artistry is shaped by his creative voice as a pianist and composer, praised for his “fearless performances,” and “exceptionally beautiful” compositions (The Washington Post). Also on the program is “Symphony No. 7,” one of Beethoven’s timeless masterpieces. You can see this concert on Friday, Oct. 21, in Medford; Saturday, Oct. 22, in Ashland; and Sunday, Oct. 23, in Grants Pass.

The marimba takes center stage in November, as RVS welcomes percussionist Britton-René Collins as our guest soloist. Britton-René has dedicated her artistry to shaping an equitable community for all musicians to thrive equally. A Grand Prize winner of the 2021 Chicago International Music Competition, she has performed as a soloist in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Britton-René will perform “Prism Rhapsody for Marimba and Orchestra” by Japanese composer Keiko Abe. Our third Masterworks performance also includes Carlos Simon’s “Amen!,” which the composer wrote to “...re-create the musical experience of an African American Pentecostal church service … ,” and William Levi Dawson’s “Negro Folk Symphony,” a sensational mid-20th century symphonic work that embodies traditional spirituals in an orchestral setting. This exciting program will be performed on Friday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Nov. 19, both in Ashland, and on Sunday, Nov. 20, in Grants Pass.

The epic “Violin Concerto No. 1” by Dmitri Shostakovich anchors our January 2023 performance, welcoming virtuoso violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky back to our stages after a triumphant concert in 2018. The Concerto demands vast technical skill and stamina from the soloist, and is often referred to as the “iron man” concerto. Alexander Borodin’s Symphony No. 2, subtitled “Heroic,” rounds out this program of thrilling music sure to bring you to your feet. This performance will be offered in all three of venues: Friday, Jan. 20, in Ashland; Saturday, Jan. 21, in Medford; and Sunday, Jan. 22, in Grants Pass.

In February, celebrated pianist Michelle Cann will perform two different works for piano and orchestra with RVS — “Burleske” by Richard Strauss, and the “Piano Concerto” by Florence Price, a work that Cann champions. “A compelling, sparkling virtuoso” (Boston Music Intelligencer), pianist Michelle Cann made her orchestral debut at age fourteen and has since performed as a soloist with numerous orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra. This concert opens with “Lyric for Strings” by American composer George Walker, and closes with a spectacle in Silvestre Revueltas’s “La noche de los Mayas (Mayan Night).” Performances are scheduled for Friday, Feb. 24, in Medford; Saturday, Feb. 25, in Ashland; and Sunday, Feb. 26, in Grants Pass.

RVS will present a special performance in April of Arvo Pärt’s “Passio,” a mystical setting of St. John’s Passion. Featuring two vocal soloists — baritone José Rubio and tenor Brian Thorsett — a solo vocal quartet, chorus, and small instrumental ensemble featuring Jodi French on organ, Pärt’s trademark style embraces Gregorian chant, Medieval, and Renaissance music, creating a unique blend of the distant past intended for our times. Experience this unique musical journey at the SOU Music Recital Hall in Ashland only at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 1, 2023.

RVS’s final Masterworks performance in April includes “a work we’re eager to share with our community,” “The Planets” by Gustav Holst. Rescheduled twice during the pandemic, RVS is thrilled to finally present this monumental orchestral work. “The Planets” will thrill audiences with its spectacular colors and brilliant depiction of the mythology of our solar system. The music will be accompanied by choreographed visuals of the solar system by Seattle-based visual artist Adrian Wyard. The women’s chorus will feature singers from North and South Medford High School’s choral programs. Paired with Holst’s seminal work is Vítězslav Novák’s “In the Tatras,” a favorite of Maestro Majkut’s. This epic close to the season has two performances scheduled in Medford; Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22, plus an additional performance in Grants Pass on Sunday, April 23.

New Community Connections

RVS has established several community partnerships to enhance their musical offerings for the 2022/23 season. Through education, outreach, and special guests, the symphony hopes to reach new parts of the southern Oregon community that may not otherwise get the chance to interact with RVS artists. RVS has partnered with Britt Music & Arts Festival’s Education and Engagement department to have two of RVS’s guest artists perform educational activities at regional schools. Both Anthony McGill and Britton-Rene Collins will visit local high school music classes to share their wisdom with students. Collins will also give master classes to percussion students at Southern Oregon University. Pianists Michael Stephen Brown and Michelle Cann will also host master classes with students of Alexander Tutunov at SOU.

Another partner is ScienceWorks Hand-On Museum in Ashland. Special guest Ashwin Vasavada, who spearheads the Mars projects at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory with NASA, will present a special lecture at ScienceWorks in April that explores the intersection of science and music, using Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” as a guide. More details will be available about this special community event as the date gets closer.

Single tickets for all of RVS’s 2022/2023 concerts are on sale now. Subscriptions for the 2022/2023 season are also available.

For more information or to purchase tickets, see rvsymphony.org or contact the RVS Box Office at tickets@rvsymphony.org or call 541-708-6400.

RVS 2022-23 Masterworks lineup

Masterworks 1:

Onward and Upward!

Friday, Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m.: Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, Ashland

Saturday, Sept. 10, 7:30 p.m.: Craterian Theater, Medford

Sunday, Sept. 11, 3 p.m.: Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center, Grants Pass

Franz Schubert: Symphony in B minor, “Unfinished”

Richard Danielpour: Clarinet Concerto “From the Mountaintop”; Anthony McGill, clarinet soloist

Richard Strauss: Death and Transfiguration

Masterworks 2:

Avenue of the Giant

Friday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.: Craterian Theater, Medford

Saturday, Oct. 22, 3 p.m.: Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, Ashland

Sunday, Oct. 23, 3 p.m.: Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center, Grants Pass

Michael Stephen Brown: Concerto for Piano and Strings; Michael Stephen Brown, piano soloist

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1; Michael Stephen Brown, piano soloist

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7

Masterworks 3:

A Bold Amen

Friday, Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m.: Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, Ashland

Saturday, Nov. 19, 3 p.m.: Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, Ashland

Sunday, Nov. 20, 3 p.m.: Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center, Grants Pass

Carlos Simon: Amen!

Keiko Abe: Prism Rhapsody for Marimba and Orchestra; Britton-Rene Collins, marimba soloist

William Levi Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony

Masterworks 4:

Songs of the Steppes

Friday, Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m.: Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, Ashland

Saturday, Jan. 21, 3 p.m.: Craterian Theater, Medford

Sunday, Jan. 22, 3 p.m.: Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center, Grants Pass

Alexander Borodin: Symphony No. 2, “Heroic”

Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1; Sasha Sitkovetsky, violin soloist

Masterworks 5:

Hidden Gems

Friday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m.: Craterian Theater, Medford

Saturday, Feb. 25, 3 p.m.: Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, Ashland

Sunday, Feb. 26, 3 p.m.: Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center, Grants Pass

George Walker: Lyric for Strings

Richard Strauss: Burleske; Michelle Cann, piano soloist

Florence Price: Piano Concerto; Michelle Cann, piano soloist

Silvestre Revueltas: La noche de los Mayas

Masterworks 6:

Celestial Pathways

Friday, April 21, 7:30 p.m.: Craterian Theater, Medford

Saturday, April 22, 7:30 p.m.: Craterian Theater, Medford

Sunday, April 23, 3 p.m.: Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center, Grants Pass

Vítězslav Novák: In the Tatras

Gustav Holst: The Planets