fb-pixel10 classical music attractions to enliven your autumn - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Fall Arts Preview


10 classical music attractions to enliven your autumn

Whether your tastes tend to the old or new, grand or intimate, conventional or experimental: The fall concert season has something for you.

Top (from left): Jonathan Cohen, John Zorn, and Renée Fleming. Bottom (from left): Andris Nelsons and Paul Lewis, Nelsons and Awadagin Pratt.

BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA/BOSTON POPS The fall season at Symphony Hall kicks off with a weekend of Pops tributes to John Williams, including a condensed tour through the music of the entire “Star Wars” saga (Sept. 21-24). The BSO then launches into seven weeks of orchestral programs starting Oct. 5, led by music director Andris Nelsons and a handful of guest conductors. Highlights include a three-concert marathon of all five Beethoven piano concertos featuring Nelsons and pianist Paul Lewis (Oct. 19-21), Leonidas Kavakos performing Berg’s Violin Concerto (Nov. 9-11), and the onstage reunion of composer/conductor Thomas Adès and pianist Kirill Gerstein, a captivating and creative duo that regularly delivers unforgettable performances with the BSO (Nov. 16-18). Symphony Hall. 888-266-1200, www.bso.org

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY Freshman artistic director Jonathan Cohen launches the season by leading the H+H Orchestra and Chorus in Handel’s oratorio “Israel in Egypt” (Oct. 6 and 8). A few weeks later, veteran guest conductor and period instrument specialist Václav Luks conducts a mostly-Beethoven program featuring the Piano Concerto No. 3 with fortepianist Lukáš Vondráček, and Symphony No. 8 (Oct. 27 and 29). Symphony Hall. 617-262-1815, www.handelandhaydn.org


BOSTON LYRIC OPERA The chrysalis unravels as Boston Lyric Opera unveils a new production of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” stage-directed by Phil Chan with dramaturgy by mezzo-soprano and BLO artistic adviser Nina Yoshida Nelsen. The production is the culmination of a yearslong project in which the company examined the opera’s history and impact, and the setting of the opera is transplanted from early 20th-century Japan to 1940s San Francisco, imagining Butterfly (Karen Chia-ling Ho) as a Japanese-American nightclub performer in the city’s Chinatown on the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack (Sept. 14-24). November brings Rossini’s “La Cenerentola (Cinderella),” directed by Dawn M. Simmons and starring mezzo-soprano Cecelia Hall (Nov. 8-12). 617-542-6772, www.blo.org

BOSTON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA The Boston Philharmonic fetes the 85th birthday of founder/conductor Benjamin Zander with two fall concerts, the first featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and former Berliner Philharmoniker concert master Guy Braunstein in Elgar’s Violin Concerto (Oct. 20) and the second a 20th-century program of Britten, Bartók, and Shostakovich (Nov. 17). The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra gets in on the action, too, with an all-German program of Wagner, Hindemith, and Brahms(Nov. 5). 617-236-0999, www.bostonphil.org


A FAR CRY Boston’s conductorless string orchestra has a slew of thoughtful programs on tap for the fall. “Reimagined” mixes music by Shelley Washington and Andrea Casarrubios with string orchestra arrangements of Bach and Schubert (Sept. 15), and “Four Quartets” weaves movements from Beethoven string quartets with new pieces for piano and string orchestra commissioned by pianist Awadagin Pratt, which are featured on Pratt’s recently released album “Stillpoint” (Nov. 17). In between, a small group of A Far Cry members offer up a program of 20th- and 21st-century string trios by Freya Waley-Cohen, Salina Fisher, Errollyn Wallen, and Jean Cras (Oct. 21 and 22). Various venues. 617-553-4887, www.afarcry.org

Musical siblings Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello) and Isata Kanneh-Mason (piano) will each perform their own recitals in Boston this fall.James Hole

ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER MUSEUM The Gardner Museum continues its storied tradition of Sunday afternoon concerts, hosting an eclectic lineup of guests at Calderwood Hall. This autumn’s banner event is its three-part 70th birthday celebration of pathbreaking composer John Zorn, featuring the trio of Bill Frisell, Gyan Riley, and Julian Lage (Sept. 24); the New Masada Quartet helmed by Zorn himself (Oct. 22); and pianist Stephen Gosling (Nov. 19). Other notable happenings include a performance of Ned Rorem’s song cycle “Evidence of Things Not Seen” (Oct. 1) and recitals by violinist Geneva Lewis (Nov. 5) and cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Nov. 12). 617-566-1401, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. www.gardnermuseum.org


CHAMELEON ARTS ENSEMBLE This fall brings three delightful samplers of chamber music from the aptly named ensemble. First comes “La Belle Epoque,” with a focus on French music from around the turn of the 20th century, at the ensemble’s usual performance space, Back Bay’s First Church in Boston (Oct. 14-15). Then the group hits the road for a one-off concert of Debussy, Mozart, and Messiaen at Duxbury’s Art Complex Museum (Nov. 5). Finally, “As near as memory —” unites around music written in memoriam, including Rachmaninoff’s “Trio élégiaque,” Charlotte Bray’s “Fire Burning in Snow,” and Puccini’s “Crisantemi,” a rare non-operatic piece by the Italian composer. (Nov. 18-19) 617-427-8200, www.chameleonarts.org

BOSTON CAMERATA “We’ll Be There!,” the newest program in Boston Camerata’s long-running exploration of early American music, explores diverse sacred music traditions from the 19th century, from Black spirituals to revival hymns published in tune books like the “Sacred Harp.” Three performances; Oct. 21, 5 p.m., Trinity Church; Oct. 22, 4 p.m., Twelfth Baptist Church, Roxbury; Oct. 24, Emmanuel Church, presented as part of the Early Music America summit. 617-262-2092, www.bostoncamerata.org

CELEBRITY SERIES OF BOSTON Classical music has always been a cornerstone of Celebrity Series’s offerings, and this fall offers performances by — to start — pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason (Oct. 13 and 14), cellist Alisa Weilerstein (Nov. 5), soprano Renée Fleming (Nov. 12), and the duo of tenor Karim Sulayman and guitarist Sean Shibe in their Celebrity Series debut (Nov. 14). Various venues. 617-482-2595, www.celebrityseries.org


WINSOR MUSIC This adventurous chamber series has two fall programs on the books. The first draws connections between music and dance with world premieres by Lavell Blackwell and Yu-Hui Chang, a Bach-inspired dance suite by Eric Nathan, and Ligeti’s “Old Hungarian Ballroom Dances” (Sept. 30). Next up, acoustic instruments meet electronic effects in pieces by Natacha Diels, John Adams, Mark Applebaum, Marc Mellits, and a new piece by Winsor co-artistic director and clarinetist Rane Moore (Nov. 26). St. Paul’s Church, Brookline. 781-430-9080, www.winsormusic.org

A.Z. Madonna can be reached at az.madonna@globe.com. Follow her @knitandlisten.