ALBANY — Reporting its third consecutive year of record-breaking growth in ticket subscription sales, the Albany Symphony Orchestra announced its 2017-18 Masterwork Series concert season at the Palace Theatre in downtown Albany on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
Ticket subscriptions are now on sale for the Symphony’s ambitious 88th season, which runs from October 2017 through June 2018 and features a line-up that includes Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony,” Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro,” Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet,” a Gershwin “immersion” experience, and a Hollywood-themed opening gala showcasing John Williams’ “Star Wars Suite.” Masterwork performances also often feature at least one piece by a contemporary American composer.
“Whatever you are most passionate about, we have music on the season that will move and inspire you,” said Albany Symphony Music Director David Alan Miller. “You’ll meet emerging composers, our greatest living composers, the most awe-inspiring composers of past generations and amazing performing artists.”
Reaching 150,000 people annually, the nationally recognized Albany Symphony is the only professional symphony orchestra in the region. It was founded in 1930 as the People’s Orchestra of Albany by Italian-born conductor John Carabella and has since been the recipient of 30 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awards — more than any other orchestra in the country — for its innovative concert and music education programming, recording projects and composer residencies.
“David Allen Miller knows that he’s a treasure to this city,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, noting that Miller is one of a small number of individuals who have been given a key to the city. “It’s really remarkable what he has accomplished.”
A former associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, the Juilliard-trained Miller was appointed to his position with the Albany Symphony in 1992 and has since established himself as one of the nation’s foremost conductors. His focus on exposing audiences to modern American composers earned him the John R. Edwards award in 2013 and, in recognition of his commitment to contemporary music and innovative programming, the Symphony was invited twice to appear at “Spring For Music,” an annual festival of America’s most creative orchestras at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. It is the only ensemble to have performed more than once at the festival.
In 1994, Miller formed the Dogs of Desire, an eighteen-member contemporary music ensemble that has commissioned more than 100 new works from emerging American composers and gained a national reputation among young composers as a proving ground for emerging talent. In 1998, he established the annual American Music Festival, featuring new works at multiple venues over four days in early summer.
Since the 1980s, the Symphony has also released more than 25 commercial recordings featuring primarily contemporary American composers. In 2014, Miller and percussionist Evelyn Glennie won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo on the Symphony’s release of John Corigliano’s “Conjuror.” Miller was nominated again in 2016, along with soprano Talise Trevigne, for Best Classical Vocal Solo Album for their 2015 release of Chris Rouse’s “Kabir Padavali.”
Miller also introduced a family concert series in the 1990s. Sunday Symphonies are educational, hour-long concerts featuring Maestro Miller, in costume, portraying figures from music history and his own imagination. The next Sunday Symphony, on March 19, is entitled Captain American: Musical Avenger and will feature composers such as John Williams, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.
“Thanks to all of you who are here to support the orchestra, the arts and all the things that make our community so rich and wonderful,” said Miller, going on to express appreciation for the Symphony’s board of directors. “They’ve done so much to really make the orchestra strong and to allow us to do such really exciting, occasionally crazy, projects and to pursue daring things that, frankly, no other orchestra in the country is approaching in the same way we are.”
In addition to eleven major performances, three family concerts and ten festival events scheduled during the 2017-2018 season, the Albany Symphony will perform its annual Magic of Christmas concert, two Dogs of Desire concerts and five “Tiny Tots” concerts. It will also continue to participate in a variety of educational outreach programs such as “Monday Music” youth concerts, pre-concert conversations, local school programs, “Meet the Maestro” events and more.
“We are so thankful to the Capital Region community for its enthusiastic support of beautiful orchestral music and our innovative community projects,” said Marisa Eisemann, chair of the Symphony’s board. “For decades, the Albany Symphony has enjoyed great acclaim in the orchestral world for its strong commitment to new music. Now, here at home, we continue to have record-breaking subscription numbers, thanks to our loyal subscribers and more new concertgoers from all corners of our region spreading the world about how exciting and enlightening the Albany Symphony can be.”
Thirty percent of the Symphony’s $2.2 billion annual operating budget is funded by ticket sales and 70 percent is funded through grants and donations by government entities, foundations, businesses and individuals. Tickets are still available for many of the upcoming performances of this season, including an April performance of Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” and The American Music Festival in early June, which will feature Composer-in-Residence Reena Esmail and was inspired by the bicentennial of the Erie Canal. Individual tickets or subscriptions can be purchased and donations can be made at www.albanysymphony.com. Performances are held at various venues around the region, primarily at Palace Theatre, Troy Music Hall or EMPAC.