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Fabio Luisi Launches Tenure as Music Director of Dallas Symphony in 2020-21; Inaugural Season Features Verdi’s Otello and Requiem, Unsuk Chin and Angélica Negrón Premieres, and Bruckner 9 at Carnegie Hall

This fall, Fabio Luisi assumes the Louise W. & Edmund J. Kahn Music Directorship of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO). In the inaugural season of his tenure, the Grammy-winning conductor looks forward to leading eight concert programs that reflect his vision for the orchestra, besides helming its first appearance in almost a decade at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

As Music Director Designate, Luisi has already established an electric rapport with the orchestra. “Luisi continues to demonstrate a close and growing artistic partnership with the DSO musicians,” observes Texas Classical Review. “The Dallas Symphony Orchestra played magnificently under Luisi’s experienced hands,” reports Classical Voice America. He “drew performances that combined finesse, suavity, subtlety and excitement in ways I’d never heard before,” agreed Dallas News. “Luisi’s fireball energy created an in-your-face performance fueled by an adrenaline rush. … He is already an audience favorite,” marveled Theater Jones, urging: “Get excited, Dallas!

Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony Association, says:

“Fabio Luisi and the DSO are building an incredible musical partnership, and one can hear that special chemistry every time he takes the podium. There is so much momentum at the DSO. From the incredible vision of Luisi to the work we are doing in the Dallas community, there is something special happening in Dallas, and we invite patrons near and far to experience the excitement for themselves.”

Committed to balancing the great staples of the European orchestral literature with American classics and new composition, Luisi launches his tenure with an opening-night program (Sep 10 & 13, 2020) combining Brahms’s First Piano Concerto, featuring powerhouse pianist Yefim Bronfman as soloist, with Copland’s Third Symphony and the North American premiere of Frontispiece (2019) by South Korean composer Unsuk Chin, whose honors include the Grawemeyer Award.

Next, after a festive gala to celebrate Luisi’s new tenure (Sep 12), he and the orchestra undertake a pairing of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony and Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs, for which they will be joined by soprano Anne Schwanewilms (Oct 9 & 10). Together with the New York premiere of Chin’s new work, these two late-Romantic masterworks also serve as the vehicle for the orchestra’s long-awaited return to Carnegie Hall, under the new Music Director’s leadership (Oct 12). Luisi, who spent six seasons in New York as Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, explains:

“I think it is very important that we play in New York. I have not been there in some years, and the DSO has not been since 2011. The New York audience needs to hear what an exceptional orchestra we have here in Dallas.”

Back home at the Meyerson Symphony Center, the DSO joins forces with the Dallas Symphony Chorus and a stellar quartet of vocal soloists – soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, tenor Piero Pretti, bass Wenwei Zhang and superstar mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton – for Verdi’s Requiem. A leading exponent of his compatriot’s music, Luisi conducts four performances of the composer’s operatic setting of the Catholic funeral mass (Oct 29–Nov 1).

The conductor and orchestra ring in the New Year with Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, another cornerstone of the Romantic repertoire, which they couple with Britten’s Piano Concerto, featuring Alessandro Taverna as soloist (Jan 28–31, 2021). They go on to showcase the world premiere of En otra noche, en otro mundo (On Another Night, In Another World), a new DSO co-commission from Composer-in-Residence Angélica Negrón. This will be bookended by Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, with violinist Leonidas Kavakos, and Brahms’s Third Symphony (Feb 4–7). Their account of the symphony will be recorded for future release on the DSO’s house label, DSO Live, as part of their upcoming complete Brahms symphonic cycle.

Now in his eighth season as General Music Director of the Zurich Opera, Luisi is one of the world’s most distinguished opera conductors, and presenting operas-in-concert will form a key component of his tenure. After wowing Dallas critics and audiences with their concert account of Salome last month, next season he and the DSO look forward to anchoring two semi-staged concert performances of Verdi’s Otello, with tenor Fabio Sartori, a familiar face at Salzburg and La Scala, in the title role. Soprano Alessandra Marianelli will sing Desdemona, with George Gagnidze as Iago and support from the Dallas Symphony Chorus and Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas (Feb 20 & 23).

Next, Luisi and the orchestra perform another great Romantic symphony – Mahler’s Fifth – on a program that also features violinist Alexander Kerr in Korngold’s beloved Violin Concerto (Feb 26–28). Finally, they conclude the first season of the Music Director’s new tenure with a pairing of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto, with pianist Rudolf Buchbinder, and the Fourth Symphony of little-known Austrian composer Franz Schmidt (April 1–3, 2021).

A passionate advocate for Schmidt’s music, Luisi has recorded all four of the composer’s symphonies as well as his oratorio, The Book with Seven Seals. Inspired by the biblical Book of Revelation, the work is rarely performed outside the composer’s native Austria, despite being hailed as “a masterpiece by any standards” (The Guardian). This season, the conductor leads the DSO in performances of the The Book with Seven Seals (April 3–5, 2020) at the orchestra’s upcoming SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival (April 3–21, 2020).

What critics are saying about Luisi and the DSO …
… in Beethoven, Richard Strauss and Augusta Read Thomas

“This was a performance to be remembered. … Get excited, Dallas!” (Theater Jones)

… in Rimsky-Korsakov, Copland, Barber and Julia Wolfe

“Beautifully executed with a touch of child-like whimsy. … Luisi continues to demonstrate a close and growing artistic partnership with the DSO musicians.” (Texas Classical Review)

“Luisi … drew performances that combined finesse, suavity, subtlety and excitement in ways I’d never heard before.” (Dallas News)

“Luisi’s fireball energy created an in-your-face performance fueled by an adrenaline rush. … He is already an audience favorite. … It’s truly thrilling.” (Theater Jones)

… in Richard Strauss’s Salome in concert

“Luisi had the orchestra playing gloriously, from feathered pianissimos to huge brassy assaults. One looks forward to more opera from a conductor so steeped in it, with such a command of nuance.” (Dallas News)

“The Dallas Symphony Orchestra played magnificently under Luisi’s experienced hands. He brought out details in the score this listener had never noticed before and managed both the lyrical episodes and the searing dramatic ones with mastery. The ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ was as exciting as one could hope to hear it.” (Classical Voice America)

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.


Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Fabio Luisi:
2020-21 season
(Except where noted, all concerts take place at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX.)

Sep 10 & 13
Opening Night
UNSUK CHIN: Frontispiece (U.S. premiere)
BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Yefim Bronfman, piano)
COPLAND: Symphony No. 3

Sep 12
2020 DSO Gala Concert & After Party
Featuring Fabio Luisi and DSO musicians as soloists

Oct 9 & 10
R. STRAUSS: Four Last Songs (with Anne Schwanewilms, soprano)
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9

Oct 12
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall
UNSUK CHIN: Frontispiece (New York premiere)
R. STRAUSS: Four Last Songs (with Anne Schwanewilms, soprano)
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9

Oct 29 & 31; Nov 1
VERDI: Requiem
Krassimira Stoyanova, soprano
Jamie Barton, mezzo-soprano
Piero Pretti, tenor
Wenwei Zhang, bass
Dallas Symphony Chorus / Joshua Habermann, director

Jan 28–31
BRITTEN: Piano Concerto (with Alessandro Taverna, piano)
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5

Feb 4, 6 & 7 (full program)
Feb 5 (Beethoven & Brahms only)
BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto (with Leonidas Kavakos, violin)
ANGÉLICA NEGRÓN: En otra noche, en otro mundo (On Another Night, In Another World)
(world premiere of DSO co-commission)
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 3

Feb 20 & 23
VERDI: Otello (semi-staged opera-in-concert, sung in Italian with English surtitles)
Otello: Fabio Sartori, tenor
Desdemona: Alessandra Marianelli, soprano
Iago: George Gagnidze, baritone
Dallas Symphony Chorus / Joshua Habermann, director
Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas / Cynthia Nott, director

Feb 26–28
KORNGOLD: Violin Concerto (Alexander Kerr, violin)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

April 1–3
BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rudolf Buchbinder, piano)
SCHMIDT: Symphony No. 4

Louise Barder, 21C Media Group
[email protected]; (646) 532 4372

Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group
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