Conflict and peace, pessimism and hope — the intertwined musical emanations from the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2000-01 seasonal repertory as announced at a press luncheon Thursday — form a fair picture of the orchestra itself as it looks ahead to its 82nd season, which opens Oct. 5.
Those emanations are nicely embodied in a series of large-scale choral works threaded through the oncoming season: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony led by Salonen at the season’s subscription opener; Britten’s “War Requiem”; the seldom-heard “Persephone,” as part of a three-week Stravinsky festival; Mahler’s Second Symphony; and Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” later on. Although nominally on sabbatical through 2000, Salonen will emerge from work around the house to lead the orchestra’s first two program weeks plus an opening-night gala. “Anyone else we could hire is busy those two weeks,” he explained. “Besides, I know that by then I’ll be itching to get back to conducting.”
Among the season’s novelties: Kurt Weill’s “Seven Deadly Sins” to honor the composer’s 100th birthday — with rising vocal star Audra McDonald as soloist; Lou Harrison’s Indonesia-scented “Suite for Violin, Piano and Small Orchestra”; an Aaron Copland centennial program with legendary singer Marilyn Horne; an evening of John Adams, including scenes from his “Nixon in China”; and a commissioned work by Italian innovator Franco Donatoni, Salonen’s former teacher.
Three separate programs will be guest-led by Christoph Eschenbach: two by the Philharmonic and one with Eschenbach’s own NDR Orchestra of Hamburg. Other guests include conductor-pianist Andras Schiff, Roberto Abbado, Anthony Pappano and, for the “St. Matthew,” renowned Bach specialist Helmuth Rilling. The “Green Umbrella” new-music series will continue, with programs still on the drawing board.
In addition to its customary New York appearances at Lincoln Center, the orchestra will tour to Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, Seattle’s new Benaroya Hall, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The experimental “Filmharmonic” project, with newly created music and film intermingled, will be revived at some unspecified date in the near future, managing director Deborah Borda promised, in cahoots with New York-based producers the Shooting Gallery.
Plans for the Hollywood Bowl’s summer sked, which remains the Philharmonic’s main cash cow, were previously announced, with performances by the Philharmonic, the freelance Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, formed last year. The latter ensembles will not, however, repeat their winter-season indoor gigs that were tried last season with middling success. “The winter season belongs to us,” said Borda, the Philharmonic’s possessive new boss.
Hastily installed last January upon the precipitous (and still unexplained) departure of predecessor Willem Wijnbergen, Borda smiled through her accounting of the orchestra’s current deficit, reported at $3.2 million. This, she noted, was almost exactly the size of the 1991 deficit at the New York Philharmonic that she took over there — and eventually erased. “Quality is our main asset,” she reminded the well-fed crowd, “and this we have in surplus.”