This week, the Houston Symphony announced its 2016-17 season leading off with Mahler's Symphony No. 1, the return of Yo-Yo Ma and a celebration of John Adams's 70th birthday. The usual assortment of classical, family-oriented, pops and special events is scheduled in this the third year for Andrés Orozco-Estrada as music director, and there's the addition of a new National Geographic Live! lecture series.
Under the Symphony Specials category, the Symphony will bring in Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane to make his debut on September 4, 2016. MacFarlane will sing — he's a baritone — selections from the 1940s and '50s swing era and from the Great American Songbook. Other specials include: Raiders of the Lost Ark, film with live orchestra; The Music of Queen, It's a Wonderful Life, film with live orchestra; and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, who has sold more than 80 million records, singing songs from his latest album, Cinema, and theme songs from the movies. And, of course, there's Yo-Yo Ma, the internationally famous cellist, who will be performing Dvorák’s Cello Concerto.
Under the heading of the BBVA Compass POPS section, Principal POPS Conductor Michael Krajewski will be leading his orchestra for the final season, alternating duties with his successor, Steve Reineke, the music director of The New York Pops, Principal POPS Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center and Principal POPS Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Highlights of the POPS season will include singer Linda Eder with a tribute to Judy Garland; A.J. Swearingen and Jonathan Beedle presenting Simon and Garfunkel's 1960s music; a return of Cirque de la Symphonie, involving aerial and acrobatic acts; Pink Martini, a group of musicians who perform in different languages; and actor/singer/dancer Joshua Henry in a tribute to Stevie Wonder.
The Family Season will start with "A Magic Carpet Ride" with music from Disney's Aladdin and conclude with “Dr. Seuss at the Symphony,” spotlighting music from Green Eggs and Ham, with other programs throughout the year.
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Orozco-Estrada will conduct Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in September. Guest conductors will include former Houston Symphony music directors Hans Graf and Christoph Eschenbach; Fabien Gabel, making his Houston Symphony subscription debut in the 2015-16 season; James Gaffigan; and Vasily Petrenko. Kazuki Yamada, Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, makes his Houston debut.
Orozco-Estrada will also open the 2016–17 classical season of 18 concert weekends with a performance of Mahler’s titanic Symphony No. 1. Following weekends will include Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 and the completion of the three-season Beethoven cycle of all nine symphonies featuring the composer’s Sixth and Seventh symphonies as well as Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio.
The National Geographic four-part series will be held on Tuesday evenings and showcase both photography and stories of adventurers. During these nights, the symphony won't appear. Looking at this jam-packed season, they probably deserve the rest.
For more information, please visit houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.