ASO launches 2022-23 Masterworks Series with an added sixth program
By Rick Hutzell
SEPTEMBER 6 – The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra is ready to launch another season of exciting music in September, bringing more music to more people in more places.
Fresh off its tour of Spain in July, the regional orchestra is expanding its Masterworks Concert series, bringing new composers and ideas to audiences and investing in a new contract with musicians.
The three-year labor agreement includes a 19.1% increase over three years and is part of a commitment to attract and retain a new level of talent among musicians. It is part of an ambitious five-year expansion plan.
“By performing overseas, expanding the number of performances and increasing compensation for our musicians, we are investing in music, people and the future,” said Edgar Herrera, ASO executive director. “I’m sure this is one of the most ambitious plans the symphony has ever had. I think the symphony is ready.”
The agreement with the Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore, Local 40-543, AFM, includes an immediate 8% increase in the first year and sets the stage for continued artistic growth, Herrera said.
Leaders of the musicians’ union said the new agreement is particularly gratifying because opportunities to perform decreased over the worst years of the COVID pandemic, with other well-established union orchestras folding around the country.
“The ASO players’ committee is so pleased that we have been able once again to conclude amicable and successful negotiations with the ASO board and management,” said Daphne Benichou, chair of the Orchestra Players Committee. “In light of the enormous challenges of the past few years, and the plight – and sadly also the demise – of some other well-established union orchestras around the country, it is particularly gratifying to have arrived at this historic agreement. It recognizes the brave transition of the organization and the significant importance of the musicians’ contribution to their community.
Artistic Director and Conductor José-Luis Novo, now beginning his 18th season with the orchestra, said the symphony’s five-year plan includes the addition of a sixth concert in the Masterworks Series. It includes favorites like Brahms, Beethoven, Schubert, Dvořák, and Saint-Saëns and composers less known to some Annapolis audience members.
The Masterworks series begins on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 with an all-American program featuring works by Copland, Barber, Hale Smith and “Ellis Island: The Dream of America” by Peter Boyer that honors the immigrant heritage of the United States.
Other season highlights include the May world premiere of a work by Hawaiian composer Michael-Thomas Foumai, which will deal with the effects of climate change on his island home, and a cello concerto co-commissioned by the ASO to Lowell Liebermann.
Guests artists include returning performers James Ehnes, Jon Nakamatsu, Janice Chandler Eteme and Julian Schwarz. This season the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra also will introduce the young Japanese violinist: Sayaka Shoji.
“These concerts build on the resilience we developed during the COVID shutdown through online concerts and the joy we experienced in our first post-pandemic season,” Herrera said. “We will continue to surprise our returning patrons and our new audiences with the continued growth as the foremost regional orchestra.”
This season of the Masterworks Series follows a hugely successful first international tour by the ASO. During the four-city tour of Spain, one critic called the ASO “a high-level orchestra… dedicated and highly motivated” that delivered a magnificent performance.
“This tour gave us a chance to meld together further and to develop a sense of team and camaraderie that is difficult to achieve in regular circumstances,” Novo said. “I think we are all ready to share this renewed enthusiastic bonding with our local audiences!”
Masterworks are performed at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St. in downtown Annapolis. Season tickets are on sale now.
This season will be the second featuring free ASO Chats on the Symphony+ platform. Novo offers an insightful and enlightening discussion about the programs that take listeners inside the score.
In addition to the Masterworks Series, the Series@Strathmore begins in February and includes three Sunday afternoons concerts featuring works by Beethoven, Brahms, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Coleman, Foumai and Saint-Saëns. The series is performed at The Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda.