By GUY D’ASTOLFO
The Youngstown Symphony Orchestra’s 2013-14 season will include seven concerts — four classical and three pops. The Stained Glass Concert Series, in which the YSO string section visits local houses of worship, will return for its second year.
The financially struggling YSO repeatedly has reduced the number of shows it performs in recent years, but the upcoming season represents an increase — the first in several years. The current season has only six concerts.
Highlights of the classical lineup will include the world premiere of works by Youngstown State University music professor Robert Rollin and the Youngstown premiere of Israeli-born composer Avner Dorman.
Familiar favorites by Beethoven, Grieg, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Holst will round out the classical shows.
The Rollin premiere is a bit unusual for the YSO. It has been years since the orchestra premiered a piece by a local composer, but Rollin’s impressive resume made him the logical choice.
A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Rollin began composing at age 8. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa from City College of New York, and with a doctorate from Cornell University, he studied under Mark Brunswick, Ravi Shankar, Robert Palmer, Karel Husa, Elliot Carter and Gyorgy Ligeti.
Rollin has been recognized with many important awards and post-doctoral fellowships, including the Ohio Governor’s Award for Creative Excellence.
His compositions have been performed and broadcast on six continents. The pianist also is founder and coordinator of the International Dana New Music Festival in Youngstown and conductor of the Dana Festival Chamber Orchestra, a professional group at YSU.
Randall Craig Fleischer, music director and conductor of the YSO, is passionate about new music and said the orchestra is excited to perform the Rollin piece. He talked about how the decision to add it to the season came about.
“I heard that Robert and the Dana organize a new music festival every year,” he said. “I got together with [YSU music professor] Michael Crist and Robert over coffee to discuss some potential collaborations, and Robert gave me some CDs and scores of his works. I was indeed impressed. Robert is a gifted and accomplished composer, so I agreed to premiere a new work of his.”
Rollin’s Concerto for Orchestra and Soprano will be performed April 12, 2014, as part of the final classics concert of the season. That concert also will include Holst’s “The Planets.”
The other classic concerts are:
Sept. 21: Avner Dorman’s Cello Concerto, with cellist Inbal Segev. The YSO also will perform the Glinka Russlan and Ludmilla Overture and the Beethoven Seventh Symphony.
Oct. 19: Grieg’s Piano Concerto, featuring a guest pianist from the June 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The orchestra also will continue its multiyear reflective on Brahms with the composer’s Third Symphony.
March 15, 2014: The YSO will salute Celtic heritage with Maxwell Davies’ “An Orkney Wedding” and Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy,” featuring violist Timothy Fain, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (Scottish).
In the Pops series, Fleischer and the YSO will present favorite programs as voted upon by patrons who attended pops concerts over the past 10 years.
Here is the schedule:
Nov. 9: Wicked Divas, a concert of Broadway show stoppers highlighted by selections from the Tony Award-winning musical “Wicked.”
Dec. 14: The holiday concert will feature New York Voices, the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble renowned for its jazz and group singing.
Feb. 15, 2014: Broadway In Love, a compilation of obvious and not-so-obvious love songs from the Great White Way.
Throughout the season, from September through March, the YSO’s string section will travel to churches and synagogues for its Stained Glass Concert Series.
The series, which was inaugurated this season, includes artists from the churches in an informal program of familiar works geared to the entire family. Dates will be announced later.