MSO adding a bit of theatrical flair to its upcoming season

Big monumental pieces and small intimate works will be included in the Modesto Symphony Orchestra's 2008-09 season.

"What I like about this season is it's so full of contrasts," Music Director David Lockington said.

One of those contrasts will come in a cirque-style program that combines acrobatics on stage to accompany the music — something completely new for MSO.

Cirque de la Symphonie brings in artists — aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers, and strongmen — who choreograph their performances to the symphony arrangements.

"This is (from) Steven Reineke, our new pops conductor, his ideas, his show and his connections," said Paul Zdunek, the orchestra's president and chief executive officer, who recently saw the show in Cincinnati. "It's just really fantastic. These Cirque du Soleil-like performers ... doing (their feats) to real pieces of music."

Also on the big side is Beethoven's triumphant Ninth Symphony ("Ode to Joy") and Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 played by Los Angeles born pianist Norman Kreiger. The Brahms was written when the composer was in his early 20s and was struggling to pick up where Beethoven left off, Lockington said.

"Brahms is trying to make his mark as a powerful young composer," he said. "He does it with this concerto brilliantly."

On the smaller side is Revueltas' "Ocho por Radio" and Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin" (fall of Couperin).

"It has a delicacy and beauty and classicism about it that's really special," Lockington said about the Ravel piece.

This year's most exciting soloist is Buenos Aires-born pianist Ingrid Fliter, Zdunek said. The Buenos Aires-born artist, who won the 2006 Gilmore Artist Award for exceptional pianists, will play Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major.

"She's a pianist who will go down in history as one of the great pianists," he said.

Other soloists are Cuban guitarist Manuel Barrueco and violinist Jessica Lee.

Also joining the orchestra as guest artists will be Central West Ballet dancers, in a fencing number, and California State University, Stanislaus, singers for the Beethoven Ninth Symphony.

Recently hired pops conductor Reineke will direct an ABBA tribute concert for Picnic at the Pops plus the three show Surgical Artistry Pops Series. The pops series features a holiday show, movie music tribute and a circus act.

Ming Luke, another new conductor, will direct the two family concerts — the annual Symphonic Spooktacular and a program on "Casey at Bat."

The Fat Classics series, which featured some of the guest artists in solo shows at the Fat Cat nightclub, will be on hiatus next season. Zdunek explained that the artists booked this year don't really fit in with that format, and said he hopes to reinstate the series the following year.

In another change, the holiday candelelight concerts will move away from Modesto Central Seventh-day Adventist Church downtown, where they've been held for years, to the new St. Stanislaus Catholic Church going up on Maze Boulevard.

The theme of the season will be "real. life. experience.", Lockington said.

It conveys "the whole reality of the emotional impact of it, the uniqueness of going to a live concert and experiencing something you can't experience anywhere else."

Read on for more details of next season's programs:


Sept. 19-20 — David Lockington, conductor. Ingrid Fliter, piano. Arnold's Tam O'Shanter Overture, Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, Saint-Saens' Symphony No. 3 "Organ."

Nov. 7-8 — Lockington, conductor. Central West Ballet. Miller's Fireworks, Mozart's Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter."

Jan. 9-10 — Laura Jackson, conductor. Manuel Barrueco, guitar. Revueltas' "Ocho por Radio," Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 "Scottish."

Feb. 6-7 — Lockington, conductor. Jessica Lee, violin. Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto.

April 17-18, 2009 — Lockington, conductor. Norman Kreiger, piano. Sawyers' Rhapsody for Orchestra, Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin," Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1.

May 15-16, 2009 — Lockington, conductor. Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus, California State University, Stanislaus, Concert Chorale and Chamber Singers.

Performances are at 8 p.m. in the Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto. Single tickets $30-$70; season subscription packages $90-$420.


Dec. 5-6 — Holiday Pops! Steven Reineke, conductor. 2008 Young Idol winner.

March 27, 2009 — "At the Movies." Reineke, conductor. Singers, dancers and film clips from Charlie Chaplin through "Harry Potter."

June 5, 2009 — Cirque de la Symphonie. Reineke, conductor. Cirque du Soleil-style acrobats, contortionists and aerialists on stage.

Performances are at 8 p.m. in the Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts. Single tickets $34-$75; season subscription packages $102-$225.


Oct. 26 — Symphonic Spooktacular: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Ming Luke, conductor. 1:30 p.m. pre-concert activities, 3 p.m. concert, Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts.

March 22, 2009 — "Casey at Bat." Luke, conductor. 3 p.m., Turlock Community Theatre, 1574 E. Canal Drive.

Single tickets are $10-$28; season subscriptions are $20-$36.


Sept. 6 — Picnic at the Pops — ABBA tribute. Reineke, conductor. E.&J. Gallo Winery grounds, 600 Yosemite Ave., Modesto. Grounds open at 4 p.m., concert begins at 7 p.m. $10-$48.

Dec. 13 — Holiday Candlelight Concert — Lockington, conductor. Modesto Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. 4 p.m., new St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, Maze Boulevard, Modesto. $10-$30.