July 22, 2019 

PORTLAND, OR – The Oregon Symphony’s 2019/20 Season begins on September 7 at the Oregon Zoo with a program chock full of favorites and some lesser-known gems, including George Gershwin’s Promenade, which features Principal Clarinet James Shields. Families are encouraged to arrive early for preconcert activities with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, including an instrument petting zoo and a performance by their Jazz Ensemble. The following weekend, the Symphony will battle the dark side of the force with all horns blazing through John Williams’ Grammy-winning score as the Popcorn Package opens with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert.

Mid-September brings eclectic pairings of contemporary artists with symphonic sound: alt-rock band Guster joins the Oregon Symphony September 21 with a career-spanning set featuring tracks from their latest album Look Alive as well as other fan favorites, and the multi-talented Wyclef Jean, founder of the 90s superstar group The Fugees, blends his passion for history and social justice for a night of symphonic hip hop on September 22.

The month concludes with the opening of Oregon Symphony’s Classical Series. Music Director Carlos Kalmar conducts the program, which features Brahms’ radiant Symphony No. 2 and a World premiere from British-American composer Oscar Bettison, Remaking a Forest which takes its inspiration from the daunting plans for reconstruction of the recently damaged Notre Dame Cathedral. On the same program acclaimed pianist Garrick Ohlsson performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25.




When and Where: Sep. 7 at 7:30 pm at the Oregon Zoo

The Performers: The Oregon Symphony, with Music Director Carlos Kalmar and Associate Conductor Norman Huynh; *James Shields, principal clarinet

The Program: 

Mozart: Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio
Wagner: Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral and Prelude to Act III from Lohengrin
Sibelius:  Finlandia
*Gershwin: Promenade (Walking the Dog)
Ginastera: Four Dances from Estancia
Hailstork: Celebration
Williams: Throne Room and End Title from Star Wars for Orchestra
Barber: Adagio for Strings
Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture

What’s Special About This Concert:

  • Looking for the perfect way to spend an evening? Join the Oregon Symphony as we launch our 2019/20 Season with a concert of favorite selections from the world of opera, film, and the concert hall, all performed on the Oregon Zoo’s outdoor stage.
  • Ticket prices include same-day admission to the Oregon Zoo. Families are encouraged to arrive early for preconcert activities with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, including an instrument petting zoo and aperformance by their Jazz Ensemble.
  • The program features a range of musical styles, from Gershwin’s jazzy Promenade, featuring Principal Clarinet James Shields, to Barber’s poignant Adagio for Strings and selections from Ginastera’s ballet Estancia, which showcase the distinctive rhythms of his native Argentina.
  • Selections from John Williams’ Star Wars Suite are a timely musical reminder to buy tickets for I in Concert before they sell out.
  • As always, the summer concert concludes with Tchaikovsky’s rousing 1812 Overture.

More Background Info and Photos:

On the Oregon Symphony: orsymphony.org

Tickets start at $29 and include zoo admission the day of the concert

For tickets, visit zooconcerts.com.




When and Where: [Editors: Please note different start times] Sep. 13 and 14 at 7:30 pm, and Sep. 15 at 2 pm at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

The Performers: The Oregon Symphony with Associate Conductor Norman Huynh

The Program: With the help of his new teacher, Yoda, Luke Skywalker grows stronger with the Force, and the Rebel Alliance continues to battle the evil Empire. John Williams’ Grammy- and Oscar-nominated score soars, as the Oregon Symphony performs live with the projected film.

What’s Special About This Concert:

  • Although it received mixed reviews upon its initial 1980 release, today Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is the most critically acclaimed of all the Star Wars films, and is listed in several forums as one of the greatest movies of all time.
  • In 2010, the Library of Congress chose Empire for preservation in the United States’ National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”
  • Like its predecessor, Empire garnered a number of nominations and won several awards for sound, special effects, and an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
  • “It’s generally agreed that The Empire Strikes Back is the best film of George Lucas’ initial trilogy (despite a latter-day shift toward the original’s storytelling purity). Not a sequel as such, but the next part of a continuing story, Empire marks enormous progression both in terms of the mythos of the series and in the filmmaking quality itself.” – Ian Nathan, Empire Magazine; “Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New HopeThe Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels.” – Rotten Tomatoes
  • Critic Roger Ebert found Empire compelling and the “most thought-provoking” film of the original trilogy.

More Background Info and Photos:

On the Oregon Symphony: orsymphony.org

On Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Empire_Strikes_Back

Tickets start at $35 with best availability at the Friday, September 13 performance




When and Where: Sep. 21 at 7:30 pm at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

The Performers: The Oregon Symphony, with Associate Conductor Norman Huynh; Guster (Adam Gardner, lead vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, banjo, trumpet; Ryan Miller, lead vocals, backing vocals, guitar, bass guitar, piano, harmonica, ukulele; Brian Rosenworcel, drums, percussion; Luke Reynolds, backing vocals, guitar, bass guitar, banjo, lap steel guitar)  

The Program: Boston alt-rock band Guster joins forces with the Oregon Symphony to bring their winsome melodies, soaring hooks, and tight, immaculate songcraft to the concert hall with a career-spanning set featuring tracks from their latest album, Look Alive, as well as other fan favorites. 

What’s special about this concert:

  • Over the past two-plus decades, Guster has grown from a local Boston indie band to an internationally touring alt-rock group whose devoted fans have been instrumental to their growing fame and success.
  • Allmusic.com hails Look Alive’s “commitment to sonic diversity.” Guster’s eighth full-length album, released earlier this year “evokes the 80s synth pop of their youth,” and calls Look Alive “a small gem that gives off a familiar, yet undeniably dazzling shine.”
  • “[Look Alive]… adds unexpected new elements to the band’s sound and forges a path that leads into more experimental environs … True to the band’s template, the sunnier side to Guster’s music comes to the fore on most occasions, often with unexpected results. The aptly named ‘Overexcited’ skips along with giddy delight, sounding like a Kinks outtake from Village Green Preservation Society, complete with an affected cockney accent and other facetious entreaties. On ‘Hello Mister Sun,’ they emulate the brooding melancholy of classic Pink Floyd circa Dark Side of the Moon, before breaking out with more upbeat intentions.” – Glidemagazine.com
  • “In total, Look Alive finds Guster again opting for the unexpected, a playful approach that allows them to expand their sonic terrain and meld experimentation into their rockier refrains.” – Glidemagazine.com;

More Background Info and Photos:

On the Oregon Symphony: orsymphony.org

On Guster: guster.com

Tickets start at $25




When and Where: Sep. 22 at 7:30 pm at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

The Performers: The Oregon Symphony, with Associate Conductor Norman Huynh; Wyclef Jean, vocals

The Program: Throughout his career, multi-Grammy Award-winning producer, actor, author, and hip hop guitarist Wyclef Jean has skillfully blended hip hop with a variety of musical styles. Now the former Fugees band member creates an entirely new music experience, weaving hits such as “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and “Gone till November” with a full orchestra for a perfect blend of classical and hip hop. 

What’s special about this concert:

  • The music that Wyclef Jean has written, performed, and produced – both as a solo superstar and as founder and guiding member of the Fugees – has been a consistently powerful pop cultural force for over two decades.
  • In 1996, the Fugees released their monumental album The Score, which inspired notoriously prickly rock critic Robert Christgau to write: “So beautiful and funny, its courage could make you weep.” The album hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart, spawned a trio of smash singles (including their indelible reinvention of Roberta Flack’s 1973 ballad “Killing Me Softly”), and is now certified six times platinum.
  • Jean has earned three Grammy Awards, a spot on the cover of Rolling Stone’s special “Top 50 Hip Hop Players,” and the opportunity to make music with such legends as Michael Jackson, Queen, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kenny Rogers, and Tom Jones.
  • Jean’s solo albums reveal his passion for history and social justice, like 2007’s Carnival Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant; 2009’s From the Hut, to the Projects, to the Mansion; and 2017’s Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee, whose first track, “Slums,” is dedicated “to all the refugees in the world.” Since 1997, Jean has released eight full-length albums, along with numerous EPs and singles that together have sold over nine million copies worldwide. In his role as producer, Jean helped launch Beyoncé´s career with the Destiny’s Child early hit “No, No, No.”
  • Jean describes the process for making a song his own as “Clefication,” a nickname given to him by multi-platinum DJ/recording artist Avicii. Jean explains, “We were in Stockholm recording, and [Avicii] said, ‘We need some ‘Clefication.’ Now when I’m in the studio with other producers from his generation, they’ll say, ‘Yo, we need some ‘Clefication’ on the vocal before I swag it up.’ It’s the human application of music.”

More Background Info and Photos:

On the Oregon Symphony: orsymphony.org

On Wyclef Jean: wyclef.com

Tickets start at $30




When and Where: [Editors: please note different start times] Sep. 28 at 7:30 pm, Sep. 29 at 2pm, and Sep. 30 at 7:30 pm at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

This concert will also be performed in Salem on Friday, Sep. 27 at 7:30 pm. For more information, go to orsymphonysalem.org.

The Performers: The Oregon Symphony, with Music Director Carlos Kalmar; *Garrick Ohlsson, piano

The Program:

Bettison: Remaking a Forest (World premiere commission)
*Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D Major

What’s special about this concert:

  • The Classical Series opens with a World premiere of an Oregon Symphony commissioned work, which is paired with two perennial audience favorites from the standard repertoire. British-American composer Oscar Bettison’s Remaking a Forest takes its name and creative inspiration from the reconstruction of France’s recently damaged Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • Described as possessing “an unconventional lyricism and a menacing beauty” and a “unique voice,” Bettison’s music has been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles and soloists around the world. His music has been featured and reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, as well as in the British, Dutch, and Italian press, and has been played on radio throughout the US, Australia, Britain, The Netherlands, and Brazil, and on British and Dutch Television. Currently a faculty member at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Bettison has earned many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Chamber Music America Commissioning Award, the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize, and the first “BBC Young Composer of the Year” Prize.
  • Pianist Garrick Ohlsson, who never fails to deliver spot-on performances of matchless technique and a chameleon-like ability to inhabit the personality of any work of music, presents one of Mozart’s most sublime piano concertos, K. 503 in C Major. In a 2017 review, critic Bernard Jacobson wrote, “The performance of [Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major], which is my favorite among all piano concertos, approached perfection as closely as one is entitled to expect in an imperfect world. Garrick Ohlsson produced pearly tone at all dynamic levels, caressing the keyboard in piano and avoiding any trace of harshness in the biggest forte …” – Feb. 22, 2017, Seenandheard-international.com
  • “What a sound! Ohlsson is famous for that great sonority, though he never seems to be working very hard to produce it. There are no histrionics, no flailing or thumping or grandstanding, just an incredible technique with razor-sharp accuracy, producing a sound so lush it almost glistens.” – Jan. 13, 2016, Seattle Times
  • The second half of the concert features Johannes Brahms’ sunny Symphony No. 2 in D Major. “This is the happiest Brahms gets,” says Music Director Carlos Kalmar.

More Background Info and Photos:

On the Oregon Symphony: orsymphony.org

On Garrick Ohlsson: garrickohlsson.com

Tickets start at $24



Tickets for all concerts can be purchased online at orsymphony.org; or in person at the Oregon Symphony Ticket Office located at 909 SW Washington St., Portland, OR 97205.

Ticket Office Hours

July–August: (Mon–Fri, 10 am–6 pm); by phone at 503-228-1353 (Mon–Fri, 10 am–9 pm).

September–June (Mon–Sat, 10 am–6 pm); by phone at 503-228-1353 (Mon–Fri, 10 am–9 pm, Sat 10 am–6pm); and at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall starting two hours before every performance.

Season subscriptions, including the popular Choose Your Own packages and Gift Cards, are available through the Symphony Ticket Office at 503-228-1353.


The multi-Grammy-nominated Oregon Symphony ranks as one of America’s major orchestras. Led by Music Director Carlos Kalmar, it serves over 300,000 people annually through more than 110 performances and award-winning education and community engagement programs. Through All Classical Portland and American Public Media’s SymphonyCast and Performance Today the Symphony reaches over 26 million listeners. Now in its 124th year, the Oregon Symphony is the oldest orchestra west of the Mississippi.

Known for innovative programming, the Symphony gained national recognition for its ground-breaking Sounds of Home Series which revolutionized the role of the arts in addressing three of the most critical social issues of the day: immigration, the environment, and homelessness. This series made a powerful impact in the community through innovative art, cross-sector partnerships with 37 organizations, and civic leadership and culminated with the recording of, emergency shelter intake form, an Oregon Symphony commission by composer Gabriel Kahane that will be released in March 2020.

At a time when many orchestras are reducing their classical programming, the Oregon Symphony is continuing to invest in the art form. In the 2018/19 Season the Symphony premiered more than 20 compositions, including works by eight living composers such as John Adams, Unsuk Chin, and John Corigliano. Effective with the 2019/20 Season, the Symphony is expanding its Classical Series to 18 weeks. The schedule includes the return of the Symphony’s popular SoundSights concerts, which were first presented in 2016/17. These visually stunning programs incorporate a rich tapestry of artistic elements, which particularly appeal to new audiences. Photos for media use are available at orsymphony.org/newsroom.


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