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Tulsa Symphony to perform 'Polar Express,' 'Star Wars' scores as part of 2021-22 season
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Tulsa Symphony to perform 'Polar Express,' 'Star Wars' scores as part of 2021-22 season

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The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra’s 2021-22 season will pick up where it left off, more or less, when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everyone’s lives.

The orchestra will present seven concerts that will mix some of the greatest works of the orchestral repertoire with music of less renown but equal importance and impact. In addition, the orchestra will present two special events, in which it will perform the scores of the films “Star Wars” and “The Polar Express.”

“Our season is going to look a lot like the one we had planned for last year,” said Keith Elder, the orchestra’s executive director. “A lot of the major works and special events we wanted to do will be part of this season. We are excited to unite our community through live concerts at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, (which) will elevate our spirits and provide hope for a better future.”

While the orchestra has performed at the Tulsa PAC for its televised holiday special in December 2020, and to record a series of original radio broadcasts in early 2021, the Tulsa Symphony has not performed in concert on its home stage of the PAC’s Chapman Music Hall since February 2020. The orchestra had been preparing to perform its film-with-orchestra concert of “Star Wars: A New Hope” on March 14, 2020, the day the city of Tulsa ordered all public buildings closed, and all public performances were shuttered.

The orchestra kept business going with outdoor concerts at the Tulsa Drillers’ ONEOK Field, including a sold-out performance of the Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven in May, and a landmark concert with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra of “All Rise” in June at the BOK Center.

The 2021-22 season will open Oct. 9, with a concert titled “Triumph.” Lina Gonzalez-Granados, a conducting fellow for the Philadelphia Orchestra and winner of the prestigious Sir Georg Solti Conducting Apprenticeship in 2019, will lead the orchestra in a program that will feature pianist Garrick Ohlsson as the soloist for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, the “Emperor.” The evening will also feature music by Liszt, Shostakovich and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Sarah Hicks, who led the Tulsa Symphony in its rain-shortened second appearance at ONEOK Field in October, will return Nov. 13 to lead the orchestra in “Symphonic Poetry.” The program will feature Stravinsky’s score to the ballet “Petrouchka,” along with Lili Boulanger’s “D’un matin de Printemps (Of a Spring Morning)”; Poulenc’s suite from the ballet “Les biches (The Does)”; and William Grant Still’s “Darker America.”

The animated adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s classic holiday story “The Polar Express” will be shown with the Tulsa Symphony performing Alan Silvestri’s score on Dec. 4. Ron Spigelman will conduct.

“Folk Dances” is the title of the first concert of the new year, Jan. 15, 2022, with principal guest conductor Daniel Hege leading the orchestra in a program that mixes Romanian and English music, with works by Bela Bartok, Benjamin Britten and two works by Ralph Vaughan Williams — his Symphony No. 2 in G Major, the “London,” and his Tuba Concerto in F minor, which will feature Tulsa Symphony principal tubist Jarrod Robertson as the soloist.

The long-awaited performance of “Star Wars: A New Hope,” with the orchestra performing John Williams’ iconic score, will be Jan. 29, 2022, with Spigelman conducting.

The Feb. 5, 2022, concert takes its title, “Spitfire” from a composition by William Walton, “Spitfire — Prelude and Fugue,” which will open this concert led by Hege. In addition to works by Khatchaturian and Shostakovich, the evening will include Samuel Barber’s piece for orchestra and soprano, “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” taken from James Agee’s novel “A Death in the Family.” Janinah Burnett will be the soloist for this work.

Hege will again be on the podium for “Unfinished,” March 5, 2022, which will feature the Overture to Borodin’s opera “Prince Igor,” and Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, a two-movement work best known as the “Unfinished Symphony.” Pianist Orion Weiss will make his Tulsa debut as the soloist for the Piano Concerto No. 3 by Bartok.

“The Titan,” to be performed April 2, 2022, will feature the Symphony No. 1 by Mahler, subtitled “Titan,” along with Beethoven’s “Leonore” Overture No. 3, and Mozart’s Symphony No. 25, whose first movement was used to open the film “Amadeus,” as well as serving the theme music for commercials by an Indian watch company named Titan. James Bagwell, principal guest conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra and former music director for Light Opera Oklahoma, returns to conduct.

The season concludes with “Mercurial,” May 7, 2022. Gerhardt Zimmermann, who led the orchestra in its recent performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, returns to conduct a program featuring Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in D minor; the Suite from “Appalachian Spring” for Orchestra by Copland; and the Symphony No. 4 by Tchaikovsky.

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