Hotoda puts her mark on Fresno Philharmonic season

New music director includes five living composers in the 2017-18 season

I just received my first press release from the Fresno Philharmonic with the words “Rei Hotoda, Music Director” in big, bold letters at the top. How exciting! It means a new era has begun.

The occasion is the official announcement of the orchestra’s 2017-18 season. We already knew the outline of the season a few months ago, including guest artists and major works to be performed, but the Fresno Philharmonic waited until now to give Hotoda the chance to put her own touches on the lineup.

Rei Hotoda Portraits

One of the most impressive developments: Works by five living composers will be featured, including Fresno State’s Kenneth Froelich.

Key quotation from Hotoda: “By combining exciting and innovative works by Aaron Jay Kernis, John Adams, Kenneth Froelich, Jennifer Higdon and Tan Dun with beloved pillars of the symphonic repertoire by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Debussy, we will demonstrate how the great orchestral tradition has evolved and been enhanced by new voices from the United States and around the world. We will embrace together these extraordinary works and champion them as new staples of the classical canon.”

If you recall at Hotoda’s audition concert in March, she and the orchestra made a big impression with Zhou Long’s fierce and pulse-pounding “The Rhyme of Taigu,” an homage to the ancient art of taiko drumming. It left audience members thinking that 21st century music doesn’t just have to be tolerated, it can be savored.

In terms of guest artists, I’m eager to hear pianist Orion Weiss again when he returns to Fresno, this time to perform Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major. And it will be a delight to hear Fresno Philharmonic concertmaster Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio make her debut with the orchestra as soloist in two works: Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” and Lukas Foss’ “Three American Pieces.”

There’s also fun in the new season for pops fans, with concerts devoted to the film music of John Williams and piano favorites from Gershwin to Billy Joel.

Here’s the complete season lineup:

2017-2018 Masterworks Series

Rei Hotoda Portraits

MASTERWORKS I: A NEW ERA BEGINS
October 15, 2017 3:00 pm
William Saroyan Theatre
Rei Hotoda, Music Director and conductor
Natasha Paremski, piano
AARON JAY KERNIS New Era Dance
EDVARD GRIEG Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
CLAUDE DEBUSSY Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
OTTORINO RESPIGHI Pines of Rome

MASTERWORKS II: HOMAGE
November 12, 2017 3:00 pm
William Saroyan Theatre
Rei Hotoda, Music Director and conductor
Orion Weiss, piano
SAMUEL BARBER Adagio for Strings
BÉLA BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major, Sz.119
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67

MASTERWORKS III: TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH
January 28, 2018 3:00 PM
William Saroyan Theatre
Rei Hotoda, Music Director and conductor
Awadagin Pratt, piano
KENNETH FROELICH Spinning Yarns
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

MASTERWORKS IV: BERNSTEIN@100
February 25, 2018 3:00 pm
William Saroyan Theatre
Rei Hotoda, Music Director and conductor
Jennifer Koh, violin
JOHN ADAMS Short Ride in a Fast Machine
LEONARD BERNSTEIN Serenade, after Plato’s Symposium
AARON COPLAND Symphony No. 3

MASTERWORKS V: THE VIRTUOSO ORCHESTRA
March 18, 2018 3:00 pm
William Saroyan Theatre
Rei Hotoda, Music Director and conductor
Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio, violin
FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN Symphony No. 83 in G minor (The Hen)
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS The Lark Ascending
LUKAS FOSS Three American Pieces
ALBERTO GINASTERA Variaciones concertantes

MASTERWORKS VI: OF HEAVEN AND EARTH
April 15, 2018 3:00 pm
William Saroyan Theatre
Rei Hotoda, Music Director and conductor
Jessica Rivera, soprano
Fresno Master Chorale
Anna Hamre, director
JENNIFER HIGDON blue cathedral
FRANCIS POULENC Gloria
TAN DUN Passacaglia: Secret of Wind and Birds
CLAUDE DEBUSSY La Mer

2017-2018 Pops Series

POPS I: MUSIC OF JOHN WILLIAMS
September 16, 2017 7:30 pm
William Saroyan Theatre
Stuart Chafetz, conductor
A concert of favorite music from the movies Star Wars, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Harry Potter, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman and more.

POPS II: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
December 2, 2017 7:30 pm
William Saroyan Theatre
Rei Hotoda, Music Director and conductor
Michel Bell, bass baritone
Fresno Master Chorale
Anna Hamre, director
An evening of time-honored season favorites the whole family will love.

POPS III: GREAT BALLS OF FIRE
May 12, 2018 7:30 pm
William Saroyan Theatre
Carl Topilow, conductor
Tony DeSare, piano and vocals
An exciting playlist of popular piano music from Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue to songs by Billy Joel and Elton John.


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Author: Donald Munro

Covering the arts in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond.

One thought on “Hotoda puts her mark on Fresno Philharmonic season”

  1. So excited Rei is the new music director! Best season of programming since I have been fresno! Bravo to the Fresno Phil and Ken Froelich!!!! So exciting!

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