New World Symphony’s new venue tops a rich and diverse classical lineup

By David Fleshler

Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony will perform the inaugural concert in their new Frank Gehry home on January 26.

The biggest event of South Florida’s upcoming classical season will take place January 26 in Miami Beach when Michael Tilson Thomas raises his baton to lead the New World Symphony in the overture to Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, inaugurating the orchestra’s ultramodern, technologically sophisticated new concert hall. Designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry, the hall will allow the orchestra to escape the traditional concert format that has persisted for the past 250 years and appears certain to become one of the centers of creative activity in South Florida.

While the New World ( will still present traditional concerts, it will also use video projections, alternate performance spaces and other measures to widen its audience. A performance of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, for example, will be accompanied by 11 videos by film students from the University of Southern California (Jan. 29-30). And with an entire glass wall and an inviting plaza and park, the orchestra hopes to lure after-dinner strollers from Lincoln Road with $2.50 mini-concerts repeated over the course of an evening. The orchestra will also try to attract younger listeners with 10 p.m. Late Night at the New World Symphony events at which “Cocktail bars inside the hall, nightclub lighting and video projections will enhance the ambience of these cutting-edge social, musical and dance events.”

Some of these experiments may work, some may be quietly retired. But there’s no question that along with all the technology and non-traditional formats, the orchestra will continue its practice of bringing in top-flight soloists and conductors for challenging programs. The opening concert will include the world premiere of a work by English composer Thomas Adès, accompanied by images by the video artist Tal Rosner. The American composer John Adams will lead the orchestra in his 2009 work City Noir (April 2). Among the soloists will be cellist Lynn Harrell in Tchaikovsky (Oct. 16-17), pianist Emanuel Ax in Brahms (Oct. 30-31), violinist Leila Josefowicz in the U.S. premiere of a concerto by the English composer Colin Matthews (Dec. 4), violinist Christian Tetzlaff in Bartók (Feb. 5-6) and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in Ravel (April 9-10). And in what should be a highlight of the season, Tilson Thomas, one of the greatest living interpreters of Mahler, will lead an orchestra augmented by returning alumni in the composer’s Sixth Symphony (April 30-May 1).

Entering the fifth year of its winter residency in Miami, the Cleveland Orchestra will opt again this year for a highly conservative selection of programs. Aside from a Kabalevsky overture, the three programs contain nothing that would surprise someone settling into a seat in Carnegie Hall during the Hoover administration. Major works include Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben (Jan. 28-29), Elgar’s Enigma Variations, (March 4-5) and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 (April 8-9). The programs also offer a trio of highly regarded soloists: the French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard in the Schumann Piano Concerto (Jan. 28-29), the young German-born violinist Augustin Hadelich in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (March 4-5) and returning for his second appearance with the Clevelanders in Miami, the Cuban-American pianist Horacio Gutiérrez in the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 (April 8-9).

Seraphic Fire opens their ninth season with Rachmaninoff's Vespers Sept. 30.

The Miami chamber choir Seraphic Fire ( will perform several large works, including the Rachmaninoff Vespers (Sept. 30-Oct. 3), Orff’s Carmina Burana (Jan. 7-8) and Bach’s St. John Passion (March 18-19).

Several local orchestras have prepared full concert seasons, including the Miami Symphony (, which will be collaborating with the Master Chorale of South Florida, Symphony of the Americas ( and Boca Raton Symphonia ( On Dec. 5, the Boca ensemble opens its inaugural season under principal conductor Philippe Entremont, who also will perform as soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor. A season highlight is likely to be the Jan. 23 concert with the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gunther Schuller as guest conductor in a concert that will include his Concerto da Camera.

A new entry will be the South Florida Symphony Orchestra (, formerly known as the Key West Symphony, which has scheduled concerts at the Broward Center, Lincoln Theatre in Miami Beach, Tennessee Williams Theatre in Key West and the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. The orchestra has engaged an impressive group of soloists, including the violinist Chee-Yun to perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto (Oct. 6-9), the violinist Lara St. John in the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 and Sarasate Zigeunerweisen (Dec. 1-5) and the pianist Barry Douglas in Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 (Jan. 28-Feb. 1).

Marian Pop in the title role and Leah Partridge as Roxane in David DiChiera's "Cyrano," which will have its local premiere at Florida Grand Opera in April. (Photo: Michigan Opera Theatre)

South Florida’s opera companies will sprinkle a few rarely heard works into the usual mix of Toscas, Don Giovannis and Rigolettos. Florida Grand Opera ( will present the American composer David DiChiera’s 2007 opera Cyrano (April 23-May 7), a work that critics have described as accessible and steeped in opera’s past without being pandering. As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns wrote after its east coast premiere, “The characterizations are solid and concise in a musical language that feels honestly wrought, even when the love duet from La Boheme hovers in the background.” Florida Grand will also present Puccini’s Turandot (Nov. 13-Dec. 4)  Mozart’s Don Giovanni (April 16-May 14) and Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann (Jan. 26-Feb. 12).

Palm Beach Opera ( will present two opera house staples, Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte (Feb. 25-28) and Puccini’s Tosca (March 25-28). The company will also stage two less frequently heard works, Verdi’s Nabucco (Dec. 10-13) and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (Jan. 21-23). Palm Beach Opera has also scheduled a single Jan. 16 performance of the Verdi Requiem.

On a smaller scale, Miami Lyric Opera (, which performs at Miami Beach’s Colony Theater, plans a season of the Italian works in which it excels, with Verdi’s La Traviata (Oct. 7-9), Mascagni’s rarely heard L’Amico Fritz (March 10-12), Verdi’s Rigoletto (June 23-25) and Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (Aug. 25-27).

The University of Miami’s Festival Miami ( opens Oct. 8 with the soprano Sandra Lopez, the Frost Symphony Orchestra and the Frost Chorale in a concert that will include Strauss’ Four Last Songs and Poulenc’s Gloria.

The Pacifica String Quartet opens the season for Sunday Afternoons of Music Sept. 11 at Gusman Concert Hall.

In chamber music, there is, as usual, a rich variety to choose from. Doreen Marx’s Sunday Afternoons of Music ( series celebrates its 30th anniversary this season with a varied and first-rate lineup of musicians. Her season opens next Saturday night — in spite of the name of the series — with the Pacifica String Quartet (Sept. 11), and continues with performances by well-known musicians including the violinist Elmar Oliveira (Dec. 19) and the pianist Jeremy Denk (April 17), and concludes with a recital by Delray Beach’s own soprano Nadine Sierra, graduate of the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, who last year won the Metropolitan Opera’s prestigious National Council Auditions (June 4).

Friends of Chamber Music of Miami ( present several of the first-rate groups for which it is known, including the Kalichstein Laredo Robinson Trio in Beethoven, Ravel and Mendelssohn, the Paris Trio in Faure, Chopin and Schumann and the Belcea Quartet in Haydn and Beethoven.

The Delray String Quartet (, which last year expanded beyond its base at the Colony Hotel, begins the season with a new second violinist and a schedule that will take it to Fort Lauderdale, Coconut Grove, West Palm Beach and Naples to perform works of Beethoven, Shostakovich, Brahms and others. Joining the quartet is the young Argentine violinist Tomas Cotik, a former member of the New World Symphony and a teaching assistant and doctoral student at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.

This promises to be a big season for choral music, with several of the greatest works of the repertoire scheduled to be performed by Seraphic Fire and others. The Master Chorale of South Florida (www. will join forces with the Miami Symphony to present Haydn’s oratorio The Creation (Nov. 19-21) and Faure’s Requiem (April 30-May 1). The chorale will also collaborate with the Lynn Symphonia for performances of Verdi’s Requiem (March 24-27).

Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will perform a recital Feb. 7 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale.

South Florida three big performing arts centers will all offer classical programs this year. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts ( will present the Toronto Symphony (Jan. 11), State Symphony Orchestra of Russia (Jan. 31) and Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (Feb. 17), as well as recitals by the highly regarded French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Feb. 7), the violinist Itzhak Perlman (Feb. 28) and the flutist James Galway (March 17).

The Arsht Center of Miami’s Masterworks series ( presents five programs of orchestras and soloists, including a recital by the violinist Joshua Bell (Jan. 18) and an unusual joint recital by the violist Yuri Bashmet and the pianist Evgeny Kissin (April 21), which will include Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata and the Shostakovich Viola Sonata.

The Kravis Center of West Palm Beach ( will offer an extensive series of classical performances. Here are just a few highlights: an international collection of orchestras, including the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra (Nov. 16-17), Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Jan. 12), Opole Philharmonic of Poland (Jan. 25-26) and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta (Feb. 20), as well as recitals by Itzhak Perlman (March 1), James Galway (March 16) and Andre Watts (March 29).

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