Tucson Symphony Orchestra is pulling out the stops for its 90th anniversary next season.
Among the highlights of the 2018-19 season announced by music director José Luis Gomez and TSO President/CEO Tom McKinney on Tuesday before an audience of donors and subscribers:
- A special one-night-only concert Jan. 17, 2019, with Tony-winning vocalist/actress Kristin Chenoweth (“You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Wicked”). It is the only event the orchestra is doing as part of the 2019 Tucson Desert Song Festival.
- “Stars Wars” cineconcert Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 24 and 25.
- A holiday cirque show with Troupe Vertigo that combines Christmas music played by the full orchestra and body-bending aerial feats and contortionist tricks. Stuart Chafetz conducts the concert Dec. 22 and 23.
- Big name stars joining the orchestra include a special concert with violinist Midori Nov. 2; jazz band Pink Martini on Jan. 19-20, 2019; pianist Anne-Marie McDermott performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 on Nov. 9 and 11; and trumpet player Pacho Flores performing the U.S. premiere of a new piece co-commissioned by the TSO and orchestras in Japan, Mexico and the Balearic Islands off Spain Jan. 25 and 27, 2019.
- Homecomings for two TSO Young Composers Project alumni. Composer and cellist Nicholas Mariscal returns Nov. 30 to perform Soviet Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian’s Concerto-Rhapsody for Cello. In February 2019, the TSO will perform the world-premiere of a piece it commissioned from Sarah Olivo.
Bringing the YCP alumnus back was Gomez’s idea, something he first broached with TSO officials during his interview two years ago for the music director’s job. The first YCP commission, by 2012 alumni Anthony Constantino, premieres this weekend.
“He’s passionate about this,” McKinney said, noting that Gomez, an alumni of his native Venezuela’s El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles, is giving young Tucson musicians a similar opportunity.
“I want to give them the chance to be on a subscription concert, to bring them back” home, said Gomez, who said he plans to commission several of the composers and eventually record a CD of their original works.
“We need to showcase them not as our best kept secret but as our identity and nurture our young artists,” he added.
Also during the 2018-19 season, Gomez will make his violin solo debut, performing first violin in Mozart’s Serenade for Strings for the Masterworks series finale on March 9-10, 2019. Gomez also will conduct that concert, which includes Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 “Drumroll.” In program notes in the season catalogue, Gomez, who was concertmaster at age 11 for the El Sistema Youth Orchestra of Zulia State, said he wanted to show “my side as a violinist.”
Other season highlights include the return of former TSO conductor Bob Bernhardt (“Lights! Camera! Pops!” on Oct. 27-28); a special multimedia family concert celebrating the Grand Canyon’s 100th anniversary as a national park (March 2-3, 2019); and “The Best of the Eagles” pop concert with an Eagles tribute band joining the TSO to perform “Hotel California” on Feb. 9-10.