Philharmonic to play it pretty safe in 2012-13



On the surface, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s 2012-13 season — which was announced at the beginning of tonight’s Pikes Peak Center performance — appears fairly conservative.

After all, the season’s special guest artist will be Sir James Galway (left), an Irish flautist whose name is virtually synonymous with mainstream classical crossover. Upon leaving the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1975, Galway launched a solo career that includes his ongoing collaboration with the Chieftains, performances on two Pink Floyd songs during Roger Waters’ “The Wall — Live in Berlin Concert,” and a flashy adaptation of “Flight of the Bumblebee.”

But while Galway’s folk and pop crossover inclinations have helped move some 30 million albums, the flautist continues to draw upon the classical canon for his recordings and performances. At this point, the repertoire for his March 21, 2013 performance is still up in the air, so we’ll see if he can resist using his Colorado date as an excuse to dust off his hit version of John Denver’s “Annie’s Song.”

Likewise, the season’s repertoire is dominated by well-known composers — as evidenced by Masterworks pairings like Shostakovich and Schumann, Wagner and Beethoven, Mozart and Prokofiev, Stravinski and Debussy, and a closing performance of Verdi Requiem.

Scratch the surface, though, and the season becomes more interesting.

Most importantly, Josep Caballé-Domenech will be conducting 20 performances, nearly twice as many as this current season. When the fiery conductor from Barcelona came onboard as music director last year (read the Indy interview here), his schedule was already filled with guest conducting commitments around the world. Now he's got more time, and his ability to bring out the best in the orchestra is almost guaranteed to add renewed inspiration to even the most well-known works.

Caballé-Domenech’s personal impact on the repertoire is most obvious in two Masterworks programs: “The Pines of Rome” season opener includes works by Verdi, Rota and Respighi that the conductor recently recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He's also recruited Joaquín Achúcarro — a Basque Spanish classical pianist with more than 30 albums to his credit — as the guest soloist for “Gardens of Spain,” a late-season program that will include works by Arriaga, De Falla, Grieg and Turina.

Another important change this season will be the incorporation of ambitious multimedia elements into the Vanguard Performances series.

While the actual works in the series — Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” and Sibelius’ “Symphony Number 5” — may not be particularly vanguard at this point, their presentation will be. Drawing upon the Chicago Symphony’s “Beyond the Score” program, each work will be preceded by a half-hour presentation that combines orchestral excerpts, live actors, film, photos and narration.

You can go to the Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s website for a full schedule of the 2012-13 season, including traditional holiday programming and a Philharmonic Pops series with programs devoted to Led Zeppelin, Danny Elfman, Casablanca and John Williams.

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