The Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra has unveiled its 11th season lineup under the theme “The Baton.”

The 11th season theme signifies the search for a new SPO music director, which kicks off at the end of the 10th season with two concerts and 10 conductors, according to a press release.

The 10 candidates, all of whom audiences will have the opportunity to see perform with the orchestra, have been selected by a search committee comprised of Philharmonic musicians, board members, staff, patrons and community partners. Audiences can weigh in on the decision-making process by participating in a short electronic survey following the concerts.

 

“There is a tremendous amount of excitement and anticipation surrounding the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra’s spectacular 11th season,” Savannah Philharmonic Executive Director Terri O’Neil said. “It’s going to be inspiring to have the Savannah community actively engaged in the search process for the new music director. I encourage everyone to get a head start on identifying their favorite candidates by reviewing their credentials and introductory videos at savannahphilharmonic.org. Then, be sure to join us for the full season to experience our highly impressive conducting candidates perform with Savannah’s Philharmonic.”

Following the immediate resignation of Artistic Director and Conductor Peter Shannon on Feb. 27, the SPO added two new candidates to the previously announced field of eight. All 10 candidates will lead the orchestra in an array of concerts beginning with the April 6 Rhapsody in Blue and Firebird Suite, a co-production with the Savannah Music Festival.

Keitaro Harada, an associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops, will lead the SPO on April 6.

On May 4, Joseph Young, artistic director of the ensembles for the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University and former assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony, will helm a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. Both conductors will be considered as replacements for Shannon.

“The appearance of Harada and Young on the Savannah podium in April and May mark an exciting moment in the evolution of the robust arts and culture scene in our community,” Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra board vice chair Scott Lauretti told Savannah Morning News earlier this month. “The search committee continues to carefully vet exceptional individuals, in order to secure superior artistic leadership for the philharmonic’s sustained growth and development.”

For the Sept. 14 concert, Vladimir Kulenovic will open the season with "Triple Threat: Gershwin, Bernstein and Mussorgsky" at the Lucas Theatre. The concert will highlight Canadian pianist and rising star of the music world, Ian Parker, who recently recorded Gershwin's “Piano Concerto” with the London Symphony.

Roger Kalia will take the baton Oct. 6 to lead the hugely popular “Picnic in the Park” concert, which will include movie classics to memorable patriotic pieces and a salute to the members of our armed forces, all for free in Forsyth Park.

On Nov. 16, Sameer Patel will lead SPO in a performance of Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto” at the Lucas Theatre. Violinist William Hagen — with his 1732 Stradivarius — will join the orchestra for this concert after recent debuts in Detroit, San Francisco and Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival.

Nadege Foofat will lead two Holiday Spectacular shows Dec. 6 and 7 at the Johnny Mercer Theatre. In the first half of the program, in a collaboration with the Savannah Children’s Choir, SPO will tell O. Henry’s heartfelt “The Gift of the Magi” as adapted by Adolphus Hailstork. The second half will be a funky Motown holiday tribute.

Janna Hymes will open 2020 conducting the Jan. 18, 2020, performance of Mischievous Musicians at the Lucas Theatre, which will showcase the comedic side of composers Mozart, Rossini, Ibert, Mendelssohn and even Beethoven.

 

Enrico Lopez-Yanez visits Savannah on Feb. 8, 2020, to conduct "Modern to Majestic" at the Johnny Mercer Theatre. The concert will push the boundaries of what is considered classical music with Marqueze Danzon No. 2 and Gilliland’s “Dreaming of the Masters III,” as well as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.

On March 21, 2020, Vlad Vizireanu will helm the Germanic Passion-themed concert, which will feature some of the best works of German romantic composers, including Beethoven, Mahler and Schubert.

The Savannah Philharmonic Chorus, led by conductor Matt Caine, will perform a concert titled "Transfiguration" on April 18, 2020, at the Lucas Theatre. The concert will “explore the various changes in life with the hope that our time spent together will result in not a mere change, but rather a transfiguration,” according to a press release.

Lidiya Yankovskaya will conduct the final concert of Mozart’s “Requiem” on May 2, 2020, at the Johnny Mercer Theatre. “Requiem” will be brought to life by a quartet of voices, including bass-baritone David Cushing, whose voice has been called "dynamite, with spine-tingling presence" by Boston critics.

The second season of the Larsen Musician Spotlight series will consists of six Sunday afternoon concerts arranged throughout the 11th season and will launch Sunday, Sept. 29.

The series, in its evolution, is going to feature collaborative initiatives between Philharmonic musicians and premier institutions and artists from Savannah and beyond. Every concert will present a different perspective on all the aspects of Savannah Philharmonic’s involvement in the community and its mission to provide residents as well as visitors with the opportunity to attend chamber concerts of the highest artistic order.

Major components of the upcoming season will include educational and community outreach efforts with students from Savannah Arts Academy, bringing in premier and established ensembles as Blue Heron and ARCO Chamber Orchestra (University of Georgia), and commissioning a piece from Georgia Southern University composer and faculty member Martin Gendelman.

“The excitement and interest for all these presentations is already so high among our musicians as well as featured artists,” said Sinisa Ciric, Savannah Philharmonic concertmaster and artistic director for the Spotlight Series. “We are very much looking forward to this opportunity to present these amazing performances to our audiences and to invite them to enjoy the presence of their own orchestra in their beloved city of Savannah.”