Symphony’s 2018-19 season, Smith’s finale

Steven Smith, music director of the Richmond Symphony since 2009, will conclude his tenure here at the end of the coming season, Smith announced at a preview of the orchestra’s 2018-19 schedule, held at Studio Two Three, a print studio and gallery in Scott’s Addition.

Smith, the orchestra’s fifth music director, came to Richmond after 14 years as music director of the Santa Fe Symphony in New Mexico. He continues to serve as music director of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. He was assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1997 to 2003, and is an active composer and guest conductor in orchestral programs and opera.

“It feels like the right time for me to move on,” Smith said, adding that a decade “is the appropriate tenure for a music director.” He said that his future plans are not yet firm, but he hopes to spend more time composing. One of his works, “Kataklysmos,” will be performed on a March 9 Masterworks program.

Richard Smith (no relation to the conductor), chairman of the symphony’s board of directors, lauded Steven Smith for raising artistic standards and serving as a “catalyst” as “the symphony changes with the city, with our community outreach becoming broader than ever.”

The symphony has formed a search committee of board members and musicians to find a new music director. The search commences formally with Smith’s announcement; it will continue through the 2019-20 season and possibly longer, said David Fisk, the orchestra’s executive director.

Although the recruitment process for a new music director, and profile of qualifications for the job, are still being formulated, Fisk said he expects applicants to be attracted to what has become “a more desirable position.” The Richmond Symphony “is viewed in the [orchestral] field as more of a professional destination than it used to be. We have a reputation among orchestras as one to watch, thanks in large part to the contributions that Steven has made to our development.”

In his final Richmond season, Smith will conduct a number of repertory staples, including Beethoven’s “Eroica” and “Pastoral” symphonies and “Emperor” Concerto, Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique,” Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony and Brahms’ “A German Requiem.” He also will lead performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor and, in the final Masterworks program of his tenure, a concert version of Bizet’s “Carmen,” starring the noted mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves.

Lang Lang, the stellar Chinese pianist who had been scheduled to open the 2017-18 season but had to cancel because of an arm inflammation, has been booked again for the Sept. 21 opening night of the coming season, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491.

Other guest artists scheduled for 2018-19 are violinist Joan Kwuon, playing Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade “after Plato’s Symposium” on Oct. 20; pianist Orion Weiss, playing the Beethoven “Emperor” on Jan. 12-13; and pianist Adam Neiman, playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor on March 9, all in Masterworks concerts at the Carpenter Theatre of Dominion Energy Center in downtown Richmond.

Daisuke Yamamoto, the symphony’s concertmaster, will be the soloist in Dvořák’s Violin Concerto in A minor in Feb. 9-10 Masterworks concerts conducted by Ankush Kumar Bahl, former associate conductor of Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra. David Lemelin, the Richmond Symphony’s principal clarinetist, will join Associate Conductor Chia-Hsuan Lin and the orchestra in Louis Spohr’s Clarinet Concerto No. 4 in E minor in an April 28 Metro Collection program at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland.

The symphony will join the University of Richmond’s Tucker-Boatwright Festival of Arts and Literature next season, with its musicians taking part in seminars and workshops, performing in three festival performances on the UR campus and presenting its April 13-14 Masterworks concerts in conjunction with the festival.

A number of composers represented on symphony programs reflect the Tucker-Boatwrght Festival’s theme of “exoticism – how [Westerners] relate to other places in the world,” Smith observed. Next season’s programs feature works by the Indian composer Reena Esmail, one of them a premiere, as well as the Turkish composers Ahmed Adnan Saygun and Fazil Say (better-known as a concert pianist) and the Indonesian Dewa Alit.

The orchestra also will stage special concerts on Oct. 21 at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in western Henrico County and on April 24 at the new Hardywood West Creek brewery in Goochland County, the latter a benefit for the Goochland Education Foundation.

Events under the symphony’s Big Tent, a portable venue for outdoor concerts, will expand to Hanover County, along with existing arrangements in the City of Richmond and Henrico and Chesterfield counties. Performance dates next season will be announced later.

Another alternative concert series, Casual Fridays, rebranded as Symphony in 60, will feature Smith discussing and conducting Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique” on Sept. 20 and Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony on March 8, both at the Carpenter Theatre. Each program will be followed by happy hours where audiences can mingle with symphony musicians.

The symphony’s Pops and LolliPops series will feature returns of favorite attractions, including Cirque de la Symphonie, Classical Mystery Tour’s “Music of the Beatles” and the animated film “The Snowman.” The “Let It Snow!” pops concert and Handel’s “Messiah” also will be staged early in the holiday season.

To the symphony’s existing offer of free admission to youths 18 and younger for Masterworks and Symphony at 60, there will be a new free-admission offer at Masterworks and other series for active-duty military, sponsored by Dominion Energy.

To obtain a season brochure and more information on the symphony’s 2018-19 season, call the box office at (804) 788-1212 or visit

The coming season’s artists and programs, with adult subscription and single-ticket prices:

8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center, Sixth and Grace streets
8 Saturday or Saturday/Sunday concerts: $187-$588
4 Sunday concerts: $92-$270
single tickets: $10-$82; $30-$125 (opening night); $20-$100 (“Carmen”)

Sept. 21 – Opening night. Steven Smith conducting. Julia Perry: “Study for Orchestra;” Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 (Lang Lang, piano); Berlioz: “Symphonie fantastique.”

Oct. 20 – Steven Smith conducting. Kodály: “Dances of Galanta;” Bernstein: Serenade (“after Plato’s ‘Symposium’ ”) (Joan Kwoun, violin); Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (“Eroica”).

Nov. 10-11 – Commemorating the centenary of the 1918 Armistice ending World War I. Steven Smith conducting. Barber: Adagio; George Butterworth: “On Banks of Green Willow;” Brahms: “A German Requiem” (soloists TBA, Richmond Symphony Chorus).

Jan. 12-13 – Steven Smith conducting. Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major (“Emperor”) (Orion Weiss, piano); Mahler: Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor.

Feb. 9-10 – Ankush Kumar Bahl conducting. Aaron Jay Kernis: “Musica Celestis;” Dvořák: Violin Concerto in A minor (Daisuke Yamamoto, violin); Copland: “Billy the Kid” Suite; Bernstein: “On the Waterfront” Suite.

March 9 – Steven Smith conducting. Steven Smith: “Kataklysmos;” Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor (Adam Neiman, piano); Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B minor (“Pathétique”).

April 13-14 – “Influence of the World” – the Tucker-Boatwright Concert. Steven Smith conducting. Ahmed Adnan Saygun: “Ritual Dance for Orchestra;” Reena Esmail: TBA (premiere of commissioned work); Debussy: Nocturnes (University of Richmond Women’s Chorale & women of Richmond Symphony Chorus); Colin McPhee: “Tabuh-Tabuhan;” Ravel: “Rapsodie espagnole.”

May 12 – Steven Smith conducting. Bizet: “Carmen” (abridged concert presentation), starring Denyce Graves in title role; other singers TBA.

* * *

3 p.m. Sundays, Blackwell Auditorium, Randolph-Macon College, 205 Henry St., Ashland
subscriptions: $70 (general admission)
single tickets: $22

Oct. 7 – Steven Smith conducting. Mozart: “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” (“The Abduction from the Seraglio”) Overture; Fazil Say: Symphonic Dances; Ives: “Hymn – Largo cantabile;” Ives: “Country Band March;” Haydn: Symphony No. 88 in G major.

Jan. 27 – Steven Smith conducting. Debussy: “La boîte à joujoux” (“The Toybox”); Dewa Alit: “Open My Door;” Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Overture; Mozart: Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183.

Feb. 24 – Steven Smith conducting. Reena Esmail: “Avartan;” Mozart: “Don Giovanni” Overture; Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F major (“Pastoral”).

April 28 – Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting. Copland: “Music for the Theatre;” Louis Spohr: Clarinet Concerto No. 4 in E minor (David Lemelin, clarinet); Schubert: Symphony No. 6 in C major.

* * *

8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center, Sixth and Grace streets
subscriptions: $92-$270
single tickets: $10-$82

Nov. 3 – conductor TBA. “Disco Inferno” with Jeans ’n Classics.

Dec. 1-2 – Erin Freeman conducting. “Let It Snow!” with Richmond Symphony Chorus, other artists TBA.

Feb. 2 – Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting, with Cirque de la Symphonie.

March 16 – Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting, with Classical Mystery Tour in “Music of the Beatles.”

* * *

11 a.m. Saturdays, Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center, Sixth and Grace streets
subscriptions: $45 (adult), $34 (child) (general admission)
single tickets: $20 (adult), $10 (child)

Oct. 27 – Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting. “Halloween Spooktacular.”

Nov. 24 – Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting. “The Snowman,” animated film with orchestral accompaniment.

Jan. 19 – Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting. “A Lemony Snicket Mystery.”

March 2 – Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting. “The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant,” with Really Inventive Stuff’s Michael Boudewyns.

* * *

6:30 p.m. Thursdays, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Overbrook Road at Ownby Lane
EZ pass: $60 (100 seats available)

Oct. 4 – Steven Smith conducting. Works by Mozart, Haydn, Ives, Fazil Say.

Jan. 24 – Steven Smith conducting. Works by Debussy, Mozart, Dewa Alit, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel.

Feb. 21 – Steven Smith conducting. Works by Mozart, Beethoven, Reena Esmail.

April 25 – Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting, with David Lemelin, clarinet. Works by Copland, Spohr, Schubert.

* * *

6:30 p.m., Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center, Sixth and Grace streets
single tickets: $5-$15 (general admission)

Sept. 20 – Steven Smith conducting & speaking. Berlioz: “Symphonie fantastique.”

March 8 – Steven Smith conducting & speaking. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B minor (“Pathétique”).

* * *


Oct. 21 (time TBA, Mount Vernon Baptist Church, 11220 Nuckols Road, Henrico County) – Steven Smith conducting. Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (“Eroica”); other works TBA. Ticket prices TBA.

Dec. 8 (7:30 p.m., Carpenter Theatre) – Chia-Hsuan Lin conducting. Handel: “Messiah” (soloists TBA, Richmond Symphony Chorus). $20-$55.

April 24 (time TBA, Hardywood West Creek, , Goochland County) conductor and program TBA. Ticket price TBA. (Benefit for Goochland Education Foundation.)