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Ann Arbor, MI — On May 1st, 2020, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra announced its 2020 – 2021 concert season along with its seven Music Director candidates. These seven candidates were selected from a worldwide search that contained over 225 applications for the position. Each finalist brings a breadth of educational and professional experience with them from many of the industry’s top institutions. In preparation for the season, each candidate worked with the A2SO Artistic Committee to design a program on our 2020-2021 season. The Music Director finalists will be in residence in Ann Arbor for one week and will meet with our community members, work with children at local schools, and bring their favorite music to life onstage with your A2SO!

Kazem Abdullah, conductor 
September 10 + 11, 2020:
  Beethoven Festival at Hill Auditorium


GOODYEAR PLAYS BEETHOVEN

Stewart Goodyear, piano
Thursday, September 10
BEETHOVEN Coriolan Overture
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 with Stewart Goodyear, piano
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5

We open our Beethoven Festival with an all-Beethoven program that explores the composer’s fascination with fate. We begin with the Coriolan Overture, the opening to a five-act tragedy that Beethoven never completed. Although, to Beethoven’s credit, the unfinished composition was created between writing his fourth and fifth symphonies! International pianist Stewart Goodyear will take the stage next with Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. The evening concludes in the exploration of fate with Symphony No. 5.

 

BEETHOVEN 7
Friday, September 11
LISZT Mephisto Waltz No. 1
FARRENC Symphony No. 3
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7

On the second night of our Beethoven Festival, we invite you to experience the haunting sound of Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1, a piece based on the German legend of Faust, a man who made a pact with the devil. Louise Farrenc’s Symphony No. 3 unravels in musical structures that draw upon Beethoven, yet remain uniquely her own. Through the celebratory dance rhythms of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, this special back-to-back Beethoven Festival event is propelled with energy all the way to the end!

 

Andreas Delfs – conductor
Chad Burrow, clarinet
BRAHMS & COPLAND
October 17 at Michigan Theater
MOZART Overture to The Impresario
COPLAND Clarinet Concerto with Chad Burrow, clarinet
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1

Writer’s block is annoying. Whether you’re writing an essay in college, a report at work, or a piece of music, everyone has encountered a creativity drought. But what about the iconic composers? Didn’t creative expression effortlessly flow from them? Nope! It took Johannes Brahms nearly twenty years to finish his first symphony. He said that he didn’t think he would finish it, even after he’d been working on the piece for almost a decade. Aaron Copland shared a similar experience when it took him over a year to write his sixteen-minute Clarinet Concerto for Benny Goodman. So, take a break from your writer’s block and come hear what procrastination sounds like!

 

Lina Gonzalez-Granados, conductor
Aaron Berofsky, violin
BEETHOVEN & SCHEHERAZADE
November 14 at Michigan Theater
Carlos SIMON Fate Now Conquers
BEETHOVEN  Violin Concerto with Aaron Berofsky, violin
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Scheherazade

Transcending culture, place, and time, storytelling has woven its way throughout human history. In many of humanity’s greatest stories, and even in our own personal lives, fate is a recurring theme. In this program we’ll explore this further. Beginning with Carlos Simon’s Fate Now Conquers, we’ll hear a modern dialogue with Beethoven’s symphonies. Following this, we’ll turn to Beethoven himself, a man obsessed with the motif of “fate knocking at the door.” We conclude with Rimsky-Korsakoff’s symphonic suite, Scheherazade, a musical representation of a bride and her 1,001 life-saving stories.

 

Oriol Sans, conductor
December 11 Holiday Pops at Hill Auditorium
A family-friendly concert featuring holiday hits both new and old!

 

Jacob Joyce, conductor
Arthur Greene, piano and Christopher Harding, piano
MOZART’S VIENNA
January 23, 2021 
MOZART Concerto No. 10 for 2 Pianos with Arthur Greene, piano and Christopher Harding, piano
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 5
RAVEL La Valse
STRAUSS Der Rosenkavalier Suite

Amidst the darkness of the winter, Michigan Theater will come alive on January 23 with the sounds of Mozart’s Vienna. We begin the evening with international pianists Arthur Greene and Christopher Harding in a performance of Mozart’s Concerto No. 10 for 2 Pianos. Following this fiery double concerto, we will hear the influence of Mozart in Schubert’s Symphony No. 5. The evening will conclude with Ravel’s La Valse, and Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier Suite.

 

Morihiko Nakahara, conductor 
March 13 & 14 “Night at the Movies” at Michigan Theater

The music in movies is often what truly brings our favorite films to life. For some, movie music is even what first sparks the love for orchestral music. On March 13 & 14, we will pay tribute to some of Hollywood’s greatest soundtracks!

 

Earl Lee, conductor
Kyung Sun Lee, violin  
TCHAIKOVSKY & SIBELIUS
March 20 at Michigan Theater
Christopher THEOFANIDIS Rainbow Body
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto with Kyung Sun Lee, violin
TCHAIKOVSKY – Symphony No. 4

Join your Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra in this celebration of new and old. We start the evening with Christopher Theofanidis’ Rainbow Body. Then, internationally recognized violinist Kyung Sun Lee will take the stage to perform Sibelius’ only Violin Concerto. We will conclude with Tchaikovsky’s epic Symphony No. 4!

 

Perry So, conductor
Sergei Babayan, piano
RACHMANINOFF & WAGNER
April 24, 2021 at Hill Auditorium
Unsuk CHIN Frontispiece
RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 2 with Sergei Babayan, piano
WAGNER Act III of Tannhauser ft. UMS Choral Union

We have heard how the past influences the present. This evening’s finale revisits this intertwined commentary on music history as we open with Unsuk Chin’s composition, Frontispiece, a self-described “time-lapse of the history of music”. We will then hear Sergei Babayan light up the keys in Rachmaninoff’s melodious second piano concerto, a composition from 1901 that has appeared in popular culture dozens of times in the last century. The 20/21 season comes to an epic conclusion with Act III of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, performed in collaboration with the UMS Choral Union. Do not miss the finale to our historic new conductor selection season!

 

 
MUSIC DIRECTOR FINALISTS:

 

Kazem Abdullah
 

A vibrant and compelling presence on the podium, American conductor Kazem Abdullah has been Music and Artistic Director of the City of Aachen, Germany, since 2012. Mr. Abdullah has also served as Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. A recipient of a prestigious 2010 Solti Foundation U.S Career Assistance Award, Abdullah was included by The Daily Beast on its 2009 list of “Young Rock Stars of the Conducting World.” Among Maestro Abdullah’s orchestral credits include the Berliner Kammerphilharmonie, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, New World Symphony, Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, Orquestra de São Paulo, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Born in Indiana, Kazem Abdullah attended Interlochen Arts Academy and received his Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He then studied at the University of Southern California before joining The New World Symphony as a clarinetist under Michael Tilson Thomas for two seasons, after which he continued his conducting studies at The Peabody Institute of the John Hopkins University.

 

Lina González-Granados
 

Lina González-Granados has firmly established herself as a talented conductor of opera and symphonic repertoire. Winner of the Fourth Chicago Symphony Orchestra Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition, Lina Gonzalez-Granados will become the new Solti Conducting Apprentice under the guidance of Maestro Riccardo Muti. In 2019, she started her new appointments as Conducting Fellow of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Seattle Symphony, and between 2017-19 Lina also served as the Taki Concordia Fellow, a prestigious position created by maestro Marin Alsop to foster the entrepreneurship and talent of female conductors. Recent guest appearances have included the Tulsa Opera, where Lina made history by being the first Latina conductor to lead a major production in a U.S. Opera House, as well as the San Diego Symphony and San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra. She has been the Assistant Conductor for the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival, London Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States, and has worked as cover conductor of the Nashville Symphony at the invitation of Giancarlo Guerrero, working with artists such as Yefim Bronfman and Pinchas Zukerman. She has also worked as cover conductor for Zubin Mehta at the LA Philharmonic. In 2014, she founded the Unitas Ensemble, a Boston-based chamber orchestra specializing in Latin American music. Born and raised in Cali, Colombia, Lina earned her Master’s Degree from the New England Conservatory, and is pursuing her Doctoral degree in Orchestral Conducting at Boston University. González-Granados was named one of the contestants selected for La Maestra Competition (Paris), has attended the 2019 Tanglewood Conducting Seminar, Lucerne Festival Masterclass, and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

 

Oriol Sans
 

With energy and an exceptional musical maturity, Oriol Sans has been assistant conductor to maestros Leonard Slatkin and JoAnn Falletta, and has led several ensembles including the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Michigan Opera Theatre, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Oriol has collaborated with world-renowned soloists and composers like Amy Porter, Aaron Berofsky, John Luther Adams, and Julia Wolfe. Sans is currently assistant professor and director of orchestral activities at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Before his appointment at the University of Wisconsin, he was associate director of orchestras at the University of Michigan. Since 2016, Dr. Sans has held the position of Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra and in 2018 he became Music Director of the Operation Opera Festival, an initiative of Four Corners Ensemble and the Shanghai Conservatory. Born in Catalunya, Spain, Oriol graduated in both Orchestral and Choral Conducting from the Barcelona Conservatory, and received his Masters in Orchestral Conducting and his Doctorate in Musical Arts at the University of Michigan.

 

Jacob Joyce
 

Recently appointed as the Associate Conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony, Jacob Joyce is quickly gaining recognition as a dynamic and innovative presence on the podium. Joyce also served as a Conducting Fellow for the Fort Worth Symphony, and has previously held positions as Associate Conductor of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Berkeley College Orchestra, and Cover Conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston. An avid promoter of contemporary music, Joyce has conducted several premieres of orchestral and operatic works. Joyce studied Orchestral Conducting at the New England Conservatory. He has attended the Tanglewood Music Center and the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, where he was awarded the Robert Spano Conducting Prize. Joyce has been recognized as a semifinalist in the LSO Donatella Flick Conducting Competition, and was also a semifinalist in the Solti International Conducting Competition, where he conducted the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Frankfurt Museums-orchester. Joyce graduated from Yale College in 2014 with a B.A. in Music and Economics. He received an M.M. in Violin Performance from the Yale School of Music in 2015.

 

Morihiko Nakahara
 

Morihiko Nakahara is currently Music Director of the South Carolina Philharmonic and Resident Conductor of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Nakahara serves as Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Nakahara was featured in the League of American Orchestra’s prestigious Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview in March 2005. Recent guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Buffalo Philharmonic, symphonies of Oregon, Jacksonville, Lansing, and Green Bay. Recipient of the David Effron Conducting Fellowship at the Chautauqua Institution in 1999, he recently returned to guest conduct the Music School Festival Orchestra there. Nakahara has collaborated with Chris Botti, Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, Edgar Meyer, Brandi Carlile, and Pink Martini to name a few. A tireless champion for the music of our times, Nakahara recently led world premieres of works by Joan Tower, Dan Visconti, and John Fitz Rogers. A native of Kagoshima, Japan, Nakahara holds degrees from Andrews University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He previously served as Associate Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Holland Symphony Orchestra (Michigan), and served on the faculty at Eastern Washington University and Andrews University.

 

 

Earl Lee
 

A current Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and former Resident Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Earl Lee is a renowned Korean-Canadian performer who has captivated audiences worldwide. Highlights of his 2019-20 season include leading the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, return engagements with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and debut performances with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Earl has been the recipient of several awards and scholarships including the 50th Anniversary Heinz Unger Award from the Ontario Arts Council, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Scholarship, and the Ansbacher Fellowship. His concerts to date in Canada, the U.S., China, and South Korea have often been accompanied by outreach events beyond the concert hall in the community at large. Earl has degrees in cello from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School. He received his Masters in conducting from the Manhattan School of Music. Earl pursued postgraduate studies in conducting at the New England Conservatory prior to his tenure with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

 

Perry So
 

A regular presence in concert halls on five continents, conductor Perry So has guest conducted ensembles across the globe including the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, Houston, Detroit, and Israel Symphony Orchestras, and the Royal Danish Opera. Recent highlights include return visits to the Sinfónica de Tenerife and a seven-week tour of South Africa with three orchestras including a Verdi Requiem in Cape Town. Last season he made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony. He has been a frequent guest both at Walt Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl following his stint as an inaugural Dudamel Conducting Fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He led the Hong Kong Philharmonic with Lang Lang in an internationally televised program at the close of his four years as Assistant, then Associate Conductor. So received the First and Special Prizes at the Fifth International Prokofiev Conducting Competition in St Petersburg. His recording of Barber and Korngold’s Violin Concertos with violinist Alexander Gilman and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded the Diapason d’Or in January 2012. He has recorded extensively with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC Concert Orchestra. He has assisted Gustavo Dudamel, Lorin Maazel, and John Adams. Born in Hong Kong, Perry So holds a degree in Comparative Literature from Yale University.

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