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2020-21 Albany Symphony Season: Celebrating Beethoven’s ‘Mega Concert’ And A John Williams Premiere

The season will also feature masterworks by Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Debussy and several world premieres.

David Alan Miller conducting the Albany Symphony, which will be celebrating the works of Beethoven during its 2020-21 schedule. (Gary Gold)

Beethoven would probably be humming “Ode to Joy” right now if he could see what the Capital Region (and the rest of the globe) has in store for him this year. In honor of the composer’s 250th birthday, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which last week announced its full classical season, will perform this summer all nine of Beethoven’s timeless symphonies. And this week, the Albany Symphony announced its own impressive season inspired by Beethoven’s heroism and innovation. The symphony’s new slate of programming will kick off in fall 2020 and feature everything from the North American premiere of a Scherzo for Piano and Orchestra by legendary film composer John Williams to a very ambitious Beethoven “Mega-Concert” in mid-December.

“In 2020, Beethoven is going to be ubiquitous across the globe,” David Alan Miller, the Albany Symphony’s Grammy-winning conductor, tells saratoga living. “Being the Albany Symphony, we wanted to not just do the typical thing, but also really glean lessons from Beethoven and his work.”

To that end, December 12 – 13, the symphony will perform a recreation of Beethoven’s colossal 1808 “Mega-Concert.” More than two centuries ago, this mind-blowing exposition provided a stage for world premieres of some of Beethoven’s most enduring works, including the famed Symphony No. 5 and the virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 4 (with Beethoven as soloist). By all accounts, the original concert was a bit of a disaster, as it was under-rehearsed and performed in a very cold hall in late-December. Plus, the final piece of the show, the Choral Fantasy, had to be restarted because it fell apart. “We’re not trying to replicate those aspects of the concert,” says Miller, with a laugh. “We’re going to give [the audience] an incredible performance of this unbelievable cornucopia of masterworks.”

Although the Albany Symphony has only one enormous Beethoven bash planned, Miller says that Beethoven’s spirit suffuses the whole season, which will feature popular opuses by other innovative and inspiring composers such as Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Debussy and at least four world premieres.

Take a look at the full schedule below:

Saturday, October 24
Opening Night: Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto
David Alan Miller, conductor
Inon Barnaton, piano
Coincident Dances (Montgomery)
Piano Concerto No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)
Concerto for Orchestra (Bartók)

Saturday, November 14
The Planets!

David Alan Miller, conductor
Albany Pro Musica Women’s Chorus
Concerto for Orchestraworld premiere (Cuong)
Unnamed world premiere (Myers)
The Planets (Holst)

Sunday, December 6
Magic of Christmas
David Alan Miller, conductor
This Holiday concert will feature a host of carols and holiday favorites highlighting the talent of local performers, schools and ensembles.

Saturday, December 12
Part I: Beethoven 250th—A Recreation of Beethoven’s 1808 “Mega-Concert”
David Alan Miller, conductor
Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral”
Ah! Perfido, concert aria
Gloria, from Mass in C major
Piano Concerto No. 4

Sunday, December 13
Part II: Beethoven 250th—A Recreation of Beethoven’s 1808 “Mega-Concert”
Symphony No. 5
Sanctus, from the Mass in C major
Extemporized fantasia for piano
Choral Fantasy

Saturday, January 9, 2021
Scheherazade at Proctors!
Erina Yashima, guest conductor
Maya Buchanan, violin
Violin Concerto (Glazunov)
Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov)
A Child’s Dream of Toys (Fung)

Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14, 2021
Valentine Romance
David Alan Miller, conductor
Peter Kolkay, bassoon
Three-Cornered Hat, Suite No. 2 (Falla)
Don Juan (R. Strauss)
Bassoon Concerto (Rouse)
Symphony No. 3 “Rhenish” (Schumann)

Sunday, March 21 and Monday, March 22, 2021 
Sunday Symphony & Monday Music
These engaging, hourlong concerts will feature Maestro David Alan Miller dressing up in costume to portray figures from music history and his own imagination.

Saturday, March 13 and Sunday, March 14, 2021
Mozart, Haydn & Vivaldi
David Alan Miller, conductor
The Bard College Chambers Singers and The Bard Festival Chorale
Dr. Karen Hosmer, oboe
Symphony No. 46 (Haydn)
Requiemworld premiere (Tsontakis)
Symphony No. 39 (Mozart)
Oboe Concerto (Vivaldi)

Saturday, April 24, 2021
Fountains of Rome
David Alan Miller, conductor
Richard O’Neill, viola
La Mer (Debussy)
Apu: Tone Poem for Orchestra (Frank)
Fountains of Rome (Respighi)
Viola Concerto (Walton)

Saturday, May 1, 2021
A Salute to John Williams—Stars Wars & More, The Sequel!
David Alan Miller, conductor
Albany Symphony celebrates the music of American film composer John Williams by playing highlights from his most popular scores including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark and more.

Friday, June 11, 2021
Dogs of Desire at the American Music Festival
The Albany Symphony’s acclaimed and innovative ensemble, Dogs of Desire, will return to perform newly written works by captivating contemporary composers.

Saturday, June 12, 2021
American Music Festival—Drums Along the Hudson
David Alan Miller, conductor
Soloists: Evelyn Glennie, percussion; Gloria Cheng, piano; and Molly Joyce, vocalist
Unnamed world premiere (Shekhar)
Cikirikcilar Hill – Percussion Concerto (Ince)
Songsworld premiere (Joyce/Theofanidis)
Scherzo for Piano and OrchestraNorth American premiere (Williams)

Jeff Dingler
Jeff Dingler

Jeff Dingler is saratoga living's Senior Writer. He's a graduate of Skidmore College and a professional musician.

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