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February 3, 2017

New season highlights social and environmental issues; continues multi-media concerts; explores new territory with four commissions/world premieres and 14 other Oregon Symphony premieres; and delivers another major recording.

(PORTLAND, Ore.) – Music Director Carlos Kalmar and President Scott Showalter have announced the details of the Symphony’s 2017/18 Season. In the new season, titled “A New Dimension,” the Oregon Symphony focuses on three social themes: immigration, environment, and homelessness.

Scott Showalter, for whom the new season marks his fourth as Symphony President and CEO, highlighted the importance of the just-announced season: “Our SoundSights series in 2016/17 has received international attention, but we aren’t stopping there. We’re building our programs unlike any other orchestra – artistically thrilling, yet unique to our region.”

The Sounds of Home Series

The groundbreaking Sounds of Home series, like its predecessor SoundSights series, is comprised of three subscription concerts, each with a visual component. But Sounds of Home goes further – into a new dimension – focusing the power of music on the subject of home. The series explores three specific issues critical to our home community and the wider world: immigration, the search for a home; the environment, our collective home; and homelessness, the need for a home.

The series will feature collaborations with other arts organizations and also with social service and environmental agencies, whose work addresses one or more of the series’ themes. The Oregon Symphony aims to create a citywide conversation around such timely societal issues and to use its concerts to highlight its partner organizations and their work.      

“The goal,” Showalter continued, “is for people not only to enjoy great music, but also to cause them to reconsider classical music and our greater world in new ways. Why should an arts organization address social issues? I say that we must – especially in these uncertain times. This is the future.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler, the Honorary Chair of the Sounds of Home series, said, “The Oregon Symphony is taking an impressive civic leadership position, drawing attention to issues that all of us in Portland care about. I encourage organizations and individuals to get involved. Their work will help our city, already strong in the arts, to become even stronger.”

The three Sounds of Homes concerts are:

Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue


November 4, 5, 6, 2017

*Kirill Gerstein, piano 

*Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

*Schoenberg: Piano Concerto

Chris Rogerson: commissioned work

With a focus on immigration – the search for home – this program adds a powerful theatrical element to the musical experience, with short plays by MacArthur “Genius” Grant-winning playwright Luis Alfaro and original, incidental music by Chris Rogerson. This concert highlights the important role of immigrants in making the music we enjoy today: Gershwin was a first-generation immigrant, and both Schoenberg and Carlos Kalmar found new homes in America.

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring


January 13, 14, 15, 2018

*Elina Vӓhӓlӓ, violin

Haydn: Symphony No. 70

*Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 2

Stravinsky: Rite of Spring

There’s no place like home, as the emphasis shifts to the environment – our collective home – with a concert that features commissioned video work by New York-based stage and multimedia designer Matthew Haber to accompany Stravinsky’s monumental Rite of Spring.

Joshua Bell


*Joshua Bell, violin

**Measha Brueggergosman, soprano

Hindemith: News of the Day Overture

*Bernstein: Serenade

**Gabriel Kahane: commissioned work

The world’s most famous violinist once performed in the subway, where he was largely ignored and virtually anonymous. His social experiment is a fitting backdrop for a concert that explores the idea of homelessness – the need for a home – with a commission by Gabriel Kahane.

Other Season Highlights

With its music being shared ever more widely around the world, thanks to American Public Media’s SymphonyCast and Performance Today, as well as broadcasts by All Classical Portland, and with the current 2016/17 season poised to set another all-time high in ticket sales and contributions, the Symphony will maintain the 20% increase in the number of classical concerts established last season.

During the newly announced season, the Symphony will record another CD on the PentaTone label, following the success of its recent CDs which have garnered three Grammy Award nominations in the last five years. The CD will focus on winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Music and include Gould’s Stringmusic, Piston’s Symphony No. 7, and Hanson’s  Symphony No. 4 (Requiem).

Music Director Carlos Kalmar, commenting on the season, which marks his 15th at the artistic helm, said: “This is the most ambitious season I’ve ever done in my career, bar none! It will appeal to classical music lovers and, no doubt, to new audiences as well. And, with the Sounds of Home series, we will have a bigger impact on our community than ever before.”

The subscription series begins on September 23, 2017 and closes on May 21, 2018. It includes 48 performances of 16 Classical subscription concerts (up from 40 performances in 2015/16), 8 performances of 4 Pops subscription concerts, and 3 performances of 3 Kids subscription concerts, for a total of 59 performances of 23 different subscription concerts.

The season opens on September 16, 2017 with a Special Concert featuring renowned social justice/media mega-star and former Star Trek castmember George Takei, who will emcee the opening night concert and narrate Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait. The season also includes two other Special Concerts: the Oregon Symphony joins forces with Pink Martini for a New Year’s Extravaganza, which includes the final “Ode to Joy” movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony  on December 30 and 31, 2017; and pianist Yuja Wang returns for a recital performance on May 3, 2018. The three Special Concerts are now available only to renewing and new subscribers.

Every season, the Oregon Symphony performs between 20 and 30 concerts beyond its subscription series. These Special Concerts – under the Oregon Symphony Presents banner – span a wide range of genres. Patrons can expect the full slate of these Special Concerts to be announced in May.


2017/18 Classical Concerts:

Percussionist Colin Currie returns for his third year as the Oregon Symphony’s Artist in Residence, a position that involves performing onstage as well as working around the community. Currie is an extraordinary classical music ambassador, deploying  an array of percussion instruments, including his own body, to perform and teach in venues throughout the region.

Audience Favorites

The season includes many classical favorites like Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Brahms’ First Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique,” Verdi’s Requiem, and Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, among many others.


In addition to those favorites, the season enjoys four commissioned works and their associated world premieres from Andy Akiho, Marc-Anthony Turnage, Chris Rogerson, and Gabriel Kahane. In addition to those, the season is spiced with 14 other Oregon Symphony premieres, including Balakirev’s Islamey, da Ponte’s The Rising Sea, Adams’ Absolute Jest, Kokkonen’s Symphonic Sketches, Glanert’s Concertgeblaas, Piston’s Symphony No. 7, Hanson’s Symphony No. 4, Connesson’s Supernova, and Hindemith’s News of the Day Overture, among others.

Returning Soloists

2017/18 audiences will enjoy the return of some of the world’s best-known classical artists, performers who have won audiences’ favor for previous appearances, including pianists André Watts, Garrick Ohlsson, Kirill Gerstein, Natasha Paremski, and Francesco Piemontesi; violinists Joshua Bell, Augustin Hadelich, Elina Vӓhӓlӓ, Vadim Gluzman, and Oregon Symphony concertmaster Sarah Kwak; percussionist Colin Currie; and cellist Johannes Moser

Debuting Soloists

Guest artists making their Oregon Symphony debuts include the St. Lawrence String Quartet; Benjamin Beilman, violin; Measha Brueggergosman, soprano; Lilli Paasikivi, mezzo-soprano; Dimitri Pittas, tenor; and Raymond Aceto, bass.

Debuting Conductors

Leading the orchestra for the very first time are conductors Baldur Brönnimann, Johannes Debus, Leo Hussain, David Danzmayr, and Jérémie Rhorer.


2017/18 Pops Concerts:

The popular Jeff Tyzik continues his tenth year as Principal Pops Conductor, curating and conducting the Pops Series. The 2017/18 Pops Season includes eight performances of four separate Pops concerts, spanning the musical spectrum.

The Pops Season gets off to an entertaining start in October with the Magic Circle Theatre Company and Phantoms of the Orchestra; A Pops Holiday concert with the Pacific Youth Choir and vocalist Ashley Brown (Broadway’s Mary Poppins) celebrates the festive season in November; in February, just before the 2018 Oscars, we celebrate the man with the greatest number of statues to his name with John Williams at the Oscars; and the Pops season concludes with The Hot Sardines in April.

2017/18 Kids Concerts:

Young audiences are an important part of the Oregon Symphony family. This year’s Kids Concerts, conducted by Associate Conductor Norman Huynh, feature kid-favorite Pam Mahon as narrator and performer in programs designed especially for the young and the young at heart: Star Wars Spectacular in November with the Pacific Youth Choir and Dance West; Dinosaurs! in January; and Along the Oregon Trail in March, again with the Pacific Youth Choir and Dance West

A complete list of 2017/18 concerts can be viewed at: www.orsymphony.org/season

A 2017/18 season brochure can be viewed at: www.orsymphony.org/seasonbrochure


Subscription Details

Oregon Symphony subscribers will receive their renewal packets beginning today and have until March 31 to renew their seats or request seating changes. New subscribers may purchase their season tickets beginning immediately.

Tickets to the George Takei, Pink Martini, and Yuja Wang Special Concerts are available at this time only to patrons renewing their subscriptions or purchasing new subscriptions.

Tickets to all Oregon Symphony series concerts will go on sale to the general public in August.

Classical Series subscriptions are priced as follows:                                                              

8-concert series, beginning at $168

16-concert series, beginning at $320

Pops Series subscriptions begin as low as $84 for all four concerts.

Kids Concert Series subscriptions begin as low as $27 for all three concerts. 

Subscriptions may be renewed or purchased online at OrSymphony.org; by phone at 503-228-1353; or in person/by mail at 909 SW Washington, Portland.

For more information, go to www.orsymphony.org or call the Ticket Office at 503-228-1353.

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