They say variety is the spice of life, and that seems to be a credo that Atlanta’s classical music organizations have taken to heart this season. From foundational classics to contemporary works by forward-thinking composers to a beloved Broadway musical, the fall season offers something for everyone. Adding to the appeal is some seriously world-class star power.
ASO Opening Weekend. Opening night of the Atlanta Symphony season always has a sense of excitement and buzz, and this year’s, the 74th, will be no different. Music Director Robert Spano conducts Tchaikovsky’s dramatic Symphony No. 5, and Kirill Gerstein performs Rachmaninov’s stunning Piano Concerto No. 2. Sept. 20-23, Symphony Hall, 404-733-5000, www.atlantasymphony.org
Max Richter with the ACME Ensemble. German-British composer Max Richter’s works give a profoundly emotional charge to eerily familiar moods. His work “Infra,” which the composer will present at Emory’s Schwartz Center with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, creates rich and glassy tones by combining electronic processing with traditional strings, making for some heady, meditative soundscapes. The concert will also include his score for HBO’s “The Leftovers.” Sept. 28, Schwartz Center, Emory University, 404-727-5050, arts.emory.edu/index.html
Joshua Bell. Joshua Bell’s visit to Spivey Hall in October with pianist Sam Haywood will be a rare opportunity to catch the superstar violinist in an intimate setting. Far from being a mere “accompanist,” Haywood is known to match Bell in his virtuosity and heartfelt approach to the music. Oct. 7, Spivey Hall, 678-466-4200, www.clayton.edu/spiveyhall
Britten’s ‘War Requiem.’ The Atlanta Symphony and the ASO Chorus last performed Britten’s War Requiem in 2014 as part of a season celebrating the centenary of Britten’s birth, followed by a performance at Carnegie Hall. The New York Times called it “gripping, organic and sensitive,” echoing the sentiments of those who caught the performance in Atlanta. ‘Requiem’ is a piece of contrasts: It’s a monumental work scored for the powerful forces of symphony and chorus, but its effect is profoundly subtle and nuanced. The poems of World War I poet Wilfred Owen sung by baritone and tenor soloists (Russell Braun and Thomas Cooley this season) can be utterly chilling and devastating. It’s a safe best that those who heard the ASO take on the Requiem last time will be back for a second hearing. Oct. 25 and Oct. 27, Symphony Hall, 404-733-5000. www.atlantasymphony.org
‘West Side Story.’ Last season’s Atlanta Opera production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” gave opera-goers a taste of how the company approaches musicals: with reverence for the piece as orchestral music but never forgetting its dramatic power as theater. The show came off beautifully, which is a good indication that the company’s upcoming production of “West Side Story” will likewise win audiences over. Like “Sweeney,” the production will adhere faithfully to the look and feel of the original Broadway show. Francesca Zambello, general director of the renowned Glimmerglass Festival, directs. Nov. 3-11, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 404-881-8885, www.atlantaopera.org
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