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Stockton Symphony tunes up for 88th season
The Stockton Symphony - photo by Photo Contributed

STOCKTON —  Everything from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 to the music of Billy Joel, from the dazzling symphonic spectacle of Carmina Burana to the anticipated return of Cirque de la Symphonie, from classical music inspired by planets far, far away to some of the best known compositions of Leonard Bernstein is part of the Stockton Symphony’s 2014-15 Season. 

Subscription sales for the 2014-15 season are underway and are available by calling the Stockton Symphony office at 209.951.0196 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All concerts but the season’s finale take place in the Warren Atherton Auditorium, San Joaquin Delta College. The final Pops Series concert, “Piano Men” will be performed in the Bob Hope Theatre in downtown Stockton.

The upcoming season marks the 88th year of the Stockton Symphony, making it the third oldest performing orchestra in California, after the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony.  And it marks the 20th year under the baton of Maestro Peter Jaffe. 

 While inviting guest conductors is common with the nation’s largest orchestras — and Maestro Jaffe has certainly guest-conducted many times for other organizations — this season will mark some of the first such invitations by the Stockton Symphony. Two of the Pops Series concerts and one of the Classics Series performances will feature a guest maestro. 

Highlights for the upcoming season are many. 

The season begins Saturday, Sept. 13, with the return of Cirque de la Symphonie for two new performances. The company wowed Stockton in their debut performance in September 2012 with a “Cirque” style show, complete with aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers and strongmen performing to orchestral works selected by Maestro Jaffe. The company has performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, to name but a few. The concerts are Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 14 at 2:30 p.m.

To kick off the Classics Series, the Symphony welcomes Stanislav Khristenko — the winner of the prestigious Cleveland Piano Competition — on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 6 p.m. The Cleveland Competition, which rivals the internationally renowned Van Cliburn competition in importance, awarded Khristenko $50,000 for his virtuosic demonstration; The program features Danzón No. 2 the popular Mexican orchestral work by Arturo Márquez, the monumental Piano Concerto No. 1 by Brahms and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Sponsored by Ross Bewley; James Morris; Steve Schermerhorn & Mary Ann Brooks-Schermerhorn.

The Classics Series continues on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m., with a program featuring Samuel Barber’s haunting  Adagio for Strings, made famous in the movie Platoon; the pyrotechnics of Tchaikovsky’s virtuosic Violin Concerto and perhaps the most famous work in all of classical music, Beethoven’s  Symphony No. 5. The featured soloist is Chee-Yun, violin. “Grammy-nominee David Amado has conducted the Delaware Symphony for over a decade; he will be the guest conductor for the evening. He appears by arrangement with Sciolino Artist Management. Sponsored by M.J. Hall and Company, Inc; Golden Bear Insurance Company.

The Symphony’s holiday tradition continues on Saturday, Dec. 13,  at 6 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 14, at 2:30 p.m., with a Holiday Pops concert — an array of holiday classics, carols and medleys, featuring the captivating soprano Lisa Vroman accompanied on stage by the Stockton Chorale and Youth Chorale. 

The occasion of the third Classics Series performance is very special—not just for the performance of El condor pasa, a work by Robles made famous by Simon & Garfunkle, nor for the performance of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, Symphony No 6, “Pathétique.” On Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, the Stockton Symphony will perform several compositions never performed by an orchestra before — each composed by local elementary school children during Paul Reisler’s fall 2014 residency. Each song will have been professionally orchestrated especially for the Stockton Symphony. 

The third Pops Series concert is entitled Hot! Hot! Hot! An Evening of Latin Music, Dance & Romance. And hot it is: an evening of salsa, merengue, mambo, cha-cha, tango, samba—under the guest direction of Grammy Award-winner Victor Vanacore, with music from the Estefan family (both father and daughter), Aaron Copland and Chick Corea, to name a few. On stage and in the spotlight are the delightful husband-and-wife dance team of Andrzej and Jennifer Przybyl, champion competitive dancers. The performances take place on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at 6 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015 at 2:30 p.m.

The fourth Classics Series performance is inspired by a galaxy far, far away. With a performance including selections from  Holst’s The Planets, music made popular in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey and an opulent array of music from the Star Wars movies composed by multi-Academy Award winning composer John Williams, space is not only the final frontier — it is a very special evening of orchestral music.  Symphony In Space takes place on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 6 p.m. 

The fifth and final Classics Series performance offers a true spectacle —  a performance of two beloved works: Ravel’s Bolero and Orff’s Carmina Burana, which will feature approximately 250 singers from the combined choruses of the Stockton Chorale, the Stockton Youth Chorale, the University of the Pacific, and the San Joaquin Delta College together on stage. Considered one of the most dramatic and riveting symphonic spectacles of all time, the work features vocalists include Jessica Siena, soprano; Daniel Ebbers, tenor; and Ralph Cato, baritone. The concert will take place on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 6 p.m.

Finally, the fourth Pops Series event celebrates the music of Elton John and Billy Joel. “Piano Men,” featuring Joseph Boucher, piano and vocals, and guest conductor George Daugherty, takes to the stage in the Bob Hope Theatre on Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 8 p.m. These songs, so familiar, have rarely been performed with orchestra — not even when John and Joel were tearing up the Billboard charts in their ‘70s heyday. 

 A subscription package for the four-concert Pops Series or the five-concert Classics Series ranges from $94 to $295. New subscribers save 30%. Single tickets go on sale July 15; prices range from $25 to $69.