Mozart’s Defiance: Piano Concerto No. 24

The New York Times said, “Conrad Tao was never just another prodigy.” This young phenom is certain to bring new life and ideas to Mozart’s C minor Concerto, a piece so outside the conventions of the day that more than a few Viennese eyebrows were certainly raised at its 1786 premiere. Courtney Lewis notches another Sibelius symphony en route to a complete cycle with the Finnish composer’s First Symphony, a work with traces of Tchaikovsky yet distinct with Sibelius’ voice.

Beethoven to Brahms

Have you ever stepped into shoes you felt you could never fill? Imagine the crushing feeling Brahms - and all of his contemporaries for that matter - felt trying to write a symphony after Beethoven’s Ninth. It wasn’t until Brahms was in his mid-40s that he felt ready to present his very first to the world, but it was certainly worth the wait. Brilliant German conductor Markus Stenz makes his Jacksonville Symphony premiere in an evening filled with the power and expressive lyricism of Brahms’ First Symphony and choral piece, Nänie, along with the most popular of Beethoven’s overtures to his lone surviving opera, now known as Fidelio.

Appalachian Spring

Whether it’s your first or fiftieth hearing, “The Gift to Be Simple” at the heart of Copland’s Appalachian Spring remains bulletproof in its charm and tenderness. The piece he wrote for legendary choreographer Martha Graham is today the cornerstone of Americana symphonic music. Florence Price’s First Symphony likewise evokes the sounds of America, imbued with tunes inspired by spirituals and church hymns. Carlos Simon’s The Block is a perfect companion on this program, musically capturing Romare Bearden’s energetic paintings of a neighborhood in Harlem.

Mozart’s Groundbreaker: Piano Concerto No. 25

147 years. That’s how long the world had to wait to hear Mozart’s 25th Piano Concerto again after its debut performances in 1787. The piece was so unique and novel that most audiences and musicians at the time likely didn’t know what to make of it. Hear this piece that was far ahead of its time played by Jonathan Biss, a pianist in demand all around the world. The evening opens with the music of Tarik O’Regan, a composer with an international career who is writing a new work for the Jacksonville Symphony set to debut in June 2022.

Mozart’s Radiance: Piano Concerto No. 23

No other composer manages to blend lighthearted joy and profound beauty - and make it sound effortless - like Mozart. His 23rd and possibly most famous piano concerto exemplifies this to a T. Pianist Simone Dinnerstein, masterful at expressing the warmth and humanity of Mozart’s concertos, joins Courtney Lewis and the Symphony in the final installment of the season’s piano concerto mini-cycle on a program that opens with a piece brimming with optimism composed by Thomas Adès during the pandemic.

Beethoven’s Ninth: Ode To Joy

“Friends, no more of these sounds. Let us sing more cheerful songs, more full of Joy!” The words of Beethoven’s Ninth could hardly be more timely, comforting and inspiring than they are right now. Courtney Lewis, a world-class quartet of soloists, the Symphony Chorus, and the Symphony point us toward the future in this most uplifting work of art. Also closing the season is the first in a multi-year series of commissions from some of today’s greatest living composers, a world premiere from the brilliant British and American composer, Tarik O’Regan.