Veterans on war horses come galloping into town for the 2013-14 Masterworks season at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts.
This light cavalry overture heralds the 25th anniversary of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, which Phil CEO Kathleen van Bergen plans to have a big season. Five of Beethoven’s symphonies, crowd pleasers here, are on the schedule, including the Ninth, with its full chorale and “Ode to Joy” fourth movement.
So are Mendelssohn, Berlioz and Tchaikovsky favorites: the “Italian,” the “Fantastique” and fourth symphonies respectively.
The season’s formal introduction comes Friday night, at a talk during which the Phil invitation says it will announce a new “brand” — and, some music lovers have suggested, a new music director.
With or without a music director in place, however, podium alumni will conduct a good number of next year’s season. Former music directors Jorge Mester and Christopher Seaman are scheduled, along with a visitor so frequent he’s been mistaken for staff — Keith Lockhart.
What’s new is the division of its season to offer 10 unique programs instead of seven. (Click here for a copy of the brochure; series are on sale by phone now, but not online until April 30. )
“Part of what we’ll announce on Friday is our expanded commitment to classical music. It’s not an increase in concerts. It’s an increase in our programming.” explained van Bergen last Friday. She would not elaborate further on the “branding” proposal or speculation that a music director is about to be named.
Working with orchestra manager Chuck Gottschalk and a music committee that includes orchestra musicians, van Bergen has laid out a series that juggles programs on two days between Thursdays and Saturdays. Some are on Fridays and Saturdays, some on Thursdays and Fridays, and others on Thursdays and Saturdays. Only the Ninth Symphony is a three-day performance. That, she explained, will allow all potential seven-program ticket packages, to include the Ninth Symphony.
There’s no package that includes all 10 programs.
Concertgoers who attended the Masterworks series last weekend received the schedule plus a four-play package offer for the Phil’s Broadway series next year:
■ The Tim Rice-Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Evita”
■ “The Gershwins’ ‘Porgy & Bess,” mounted on the current Broadway revival
■ “Jersey Boys,” the story of the Four Seasons’ rise to fame
■ Leonard Bernstein’s now-classic “West Side Story”
It also revealed two world premieres in the Masterworks series, one of them a co-comission with a number of other orchestras from 2012 Pulitzer Prize composer Kevin Puts. The second the orchestra has commissioned itself from Nicholas Jacobson-Larson: a concerto for four harps and an orchestra. While the instrument is a natural in a city that annually sponsors a Harp Fest, “I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of harp jokes before it’s over,” van Bergen added, laughing.
There are other foundation-strengthening plans for classical music in the 2013-14 season. The perennially sold out Sypert Salon series of pre-Romantic composers’ music has been substantially expanded. It increases from four to six programs, with second performances of each program, thanks to sponsors Dr. George Sypert and Dr. Joy Arpin.
For the Romantic era on into 21st-century music, the newly named Wang Chamber Series is a gift from David and Cecile Wang. It continues the four-program series that has been in place for much of the Philharmonic’s existence.
The Beethoven marathon could technically be said to start next month. The final Naples Philharmonic Orchestra Masterworks program May 2-4 includes his Symphony No. 5, “Fate Knocks at the Door.”
Only series tickets are available at this time. Those interested may call the Phil at 239-597-1900.