The Sarasota Concert Association Presents Its
71st Annual Great Performers Series Season
January-March 2016 • Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
The Great Performers Series’ 71st season includes the return of two audience favorites, the Cleveland Orchestra, and pianist Olga Kern. The season also features the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Miró Quartet and the Russian National Orchestra.
(Sarasota, Florida) The Sarasota Concert Association (SCA) launches its eighth decade of bringing world-class classical music to this region with a dazzling 2016 lineup that includes the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst; the Miró Quartet; the Russian National Orchestra; and pianist Olga Kern.
“Last season’s 70th anniversary season set a very high bar,” says Joy McIntyre, SCA’s board president. “I’m happy to say that the 2016 line-up is just as spectacular. We’re once again bringing Carnegie Hall to Sarasota.”
The 2016 Great Performers Series season opens on Tuesday, January 26, 7:30 p.m., with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Lauded by The New York Times for its “conductorless ability to render complex scores with taut precision and feverish excitement,” the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra was formed in 1972 by cellist Julian Fifer and a group of like-minded young musicians determined to combine the intimacy and warmth of a chamber ensemble with the richness of an orchestra. As cellist and executive director, Fifer quickly led the ensemble from a counterculture startup to the top echelons of the concert and recording businesses, establishing it as one of the world’s foremost chamber orchestras. With more than 70 albums, several Grammy awards, collaborations with leading contemporary soloists, and more than 40 commissioned works, Orpheus continues to expand the repertoire for chamber orchestra and develop its international reputation through innovative projects and tours, including an annual series at Carnegie Hall.
The season continues on Sunday, January 31, 3 p.m., with the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. Long considered one of America’s great orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra stands today among the world’s most-revered symphonic ensembles. The orchestra returns to Sarasota under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst. Now in his 14th season as music director, Welser-Möst continues to exact performances as gleaming and “as precision-tooled as the cars that once rolled out from Michigan’s factories,” with an ensemble sense that is “perfect” (The Times). Please note that this concert, unlike the others, is at 3 p.m.
The third concert of the season, Monday, February 15, 7:30 p.m., takes audiences on an innovative musical journey with the Miró Quartet. For more than 20 years, the Miró Quartet has been lauded as one of the top chamber music groups in the United States. The quartet is known for its exciting performances, technical finesse, eclectic programming, and for skillfully taking audiences across risky musical terrain that always offers spectacular rewards. The Austin Chronicle Review likened a Miró performance to “being inside a perfectly tuned Porsche with an expert hand at the wheel… those hairpin turns handled so smoothly that you never felt the slightest whiplash from the abrupt changes of direction.” After winning first prizes at such prestigious competitions as the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Naumburg Chamber Music Competition, the Miró became the first ensemble ever to be awarded the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2005. The group also serves as the quartet-in-residence at the University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music.
The season continues on March 8, 7:30 p.m., with the groundbreaking Russian National Orchestra (RNO) under the baton of guest conductor Kirill Karabits, with violin soloist Stefan Jackiw. The Russian National Orchestra was founded in 1990 by pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev and is recognized as one of the world’s top orchestras. Of its debut at the BBC Proms in London, the Evening Standard wrote, “They played with such captivating beauty that the audience gave an involuntary sigh of pleasure.” The RNO is also described as “a living symbol of the best in Russian art” (Miami Herald) and “as close to perfect as one could hope for” (Trinity Mirror). The first Russian orchestra ever to perform at the Vatican and in Israel, the RNO maintains an active international touring schedule, appearing throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. It is also the founding and resident orchestra of Napa Valley Festival del Sole.
Named the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2013 “Conductor of the Year,” guest conductor Kirill Karabits has appeared with such notable ensembles as the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, l’Orchestre Nationale de France, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Hailed for his playing that is “striking for its intelligence and sensitivity” (Boston Globe), violinist Stefan Jackiw has appeared as soloist with the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco symphony orchestras. Jackiw’s solo performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra last March was seen live on YouTube by more than 30 million people worldwide.
The 2016 season concludes on March 14, at 7:30 p.m., with the return to Sarasota of the dynamic Russian pianist Olga Kern. Kern skyrocketed to international recognition in 2001 when she won the coveted Van Cliburn International Piano Competition with her performance of the “Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3,” making her the first woman to achieve the distinction in 30 years. Her second triumph came in New York City in 2004, with her highly acclaimed recital debut at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. Born into a musical family with direct links to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, Kern began studying piano at the age of five and, at 17, took first prize at the first Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition. Now recognized as one of her generation’s great pianists, Kern is renowned for her vivid stage presence, passionately confident musicianship and extraordinary technique. “Call it star quality—music likes Kern the way the camera liked Garbo. Her electricity at the keyboard is palpable, and though she generates it from the music itself, as it flows through her fingers, it takes on fresh voltage that is unmistakably hers.” (Washington Post).
Great Performers Series concerts are at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 North Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Subscriptions for all five concerts are $180, $230, $280, and $320. Single tickets go on sale after October 1. For subscription information, call 941-225-6500. Forms for subscriptions can also be downloaded at www.scasarasota.org.
SCA also presents “Munchtime Musicales,” a series of free lunchtime concerts featuring performances by high-caliber, area-based artists, November 2015 through April 2016. The series is designed to offer a wide variety of musical genres, including classical, folk, and jazz, featuring both vocal and instrumental performers. The 2015-2016 Munchtime Musicales concert season will be announced soon.
About the Sarasota Concert Association
The Sarasota Concert Association (SCA) is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to foster an appreciation for the musical arts by sponsoring professional concerts, featuring a variety of quality music. This is accomplished through the Great Performers Series of world-class musicians and Munchtime Musicales, a free community outreach program. For more information about SCA, visit www.scasarasota.org.