This season’s symphony lineup starts with a bang as 25-year-old guest pianist Lang Lang joins conductor Jahja Ling to perform Liszt’s “Les Preludes” and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 as part of the Jacobs’ Masterworks Series.
“They are exciting pieces for an Opening Gala program… (it’s) great music making and (there will be a) wonderful party afterward,” said Ling, who is also the music director.
Lang and Ling, who have known each other for nine years, will perform during the Opus 2008 Season Opening Gala and Concert, which takes place Oct. 4 at the Balboa Theatre, with a post-concert reception happening at the US Grant Hotel.
The season has been carefully arranged to give concertgoers many options to fulfill their classical cravings, lest they be in a mood for a night filled with symphonic drama, melancholy and fervor or an evening of romance, preludes and passion.
Here’s a highlight of what’s to come:
The Jacob’s Masterworks Series is the symphony’s “core classical music experience” and is directed by Ling. If you’re eager to learn more about each concert, arrive 45 minutes early for “What’s the Score?” with music expert Nuvi Mehta for informative commentary.
The world premiere of Bright Sheng’s “Never Far Away” for harp and orchestra will be performed by guest harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, for whom the music was written.
“It is a very exciting project to do the world premiere of a harp concerto, which the orchestra commissioned,” Ling said. “Very few new harp concertos have been written so it is a very rare occasion for the orchestra and the audience.”
Sheng’s Harp Concerto, along with Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” (overture) and Holst’s “The Planets” will be performed Oct. 24-26. All concerts take place at Copley Symphony Hall.
Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 is “one of the most complex symphonies and most powerful and is full of emotion,” Ling said. This dark, tragic opus is the latest installment in the orchestra’s Mahler cycle. This symphony will take place Dec. 5-7.
The New Year features Beethoven at his best, with the Beethoven Festival offering a wealth of music for your ears, from the famous Piano “Moonlight” Sonata to “Choral Fantasy.” The festival is on Jan. 9-11, 16-18.
If you’re a fan of opera arias and Mozart concert arias, don’t miss out on the special event with Kathleen Battle, one of the foremost sopranos of the last 20 years, as Ling explains. This one-night-only event takes place May 16.
A great way to experience the pleasures of the symphony without committing to the full Jacobs’ Masterworks program is to join host Nuvi Mehta for Symphony Exposed starting in February. In only an hour, it’s a behind-the-scenes look a single composition followed by an entire performance. The concerts begin this February and continue through May.
The Winter Pops series features symphonic pops music with conductor Marvin Hamlisch. The first of 11 concerts starts with “Haunted Hamlisch,” which includes a night of chilling tunes such as “Halloween Dance,” written by Hamlisch himself. Catch this event Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
Pop-jazz trumpeter Chris Botti joins the Symphony Pops for a special night of holiday music on Dec. 15. With a Grammy and two gold records under his belt, Botti is sure to put on an evening of dazzling jazz music for your enjoyment.
The Family Festival Series is designed for parents and their children. “A Family Festival Concert,” which is part of the Holiday Pops series, is a short one-hour matinee show that features traditional carols sung by the San Diego Master Chorale. The concert takes place Dec. 21.
For more information and full details on the 2008-2009 season schedule, call (619) 235-0804 or visit
The San Diego Symphony’s new season begins Oct. 4 at the Balboa Theatre. Ken Jacques photos