Big-name guests, events to headline Springfield Symphony season

Pianist Spencer Myer, who has entertained local audiences previously, will return for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra's 2022-2023 season.

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Pianist Spencer Myer, who has entertained local audiences previously, will return for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra's 2022-2023 season.

One of the biggest challenges of coming back from a celebratory year is what comes next.

Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) music director and conductor Peter Stafford Wilson, who marked his 20th year in the position last season, isn’t one to rest on such things.

“The (SSO) board of trustees challenged me to think big where programming is concerned and that is exactly what I did,” he said. “The pandemic resulted in lost revenues which actually means fewer people are attending concerts. They stayed away with good reason, but now it is time to entice them back. I’ve created a slate of programs that includes big names, big acts and big works.”

“Off the Charts”, the 2022-2023 season theme, has six concerts that will include one of the greatest violinists in the world, Itzhak Perlman, a holiday show, themed concerts, special guests and other highlights at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

Season ticket subscriptions are on sale now and individual concert tickets will be available later this week.

As many larger cities have lost their symphonies, Springfield maintains its program, and Wilson’s efforts and influence help to attract talent for the shows here.

“I have found that artists who truly enjoy sharing their gifts with everyone often eagerly seize the opportunity to play smaller venues as they realize that many of their fans are unable to travel to the larger cities,” he said.

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Perlman has overcome physical disabilities to become a violin virtuoso, performing worldwide for presidents, queens and other dignitaries. His appearance on Oct. 15 will be one of the most anticipated season openers in SSO history, and will perform Beethoven’s “Violin Concerto”.

“I have enjoyed a longtime relationship with Perlman’s manager and we had talked over the years about bringing him to Springfield,” said Wilson. “It was a matter of matching dates, which we did with a little bit of maneuvering and raising the requisite dollars, which was accomplished with several individuals who sincerely wish to see great art created right in their own community.”

Pianist Spencer Myer, a returning favorite performer, will be back on Nov. 19 to take on two pieces by Maurice Ravel.

A few movies capture the holiday spirit so well they are as much a tradition as leaving cookies for Santa, trimming the Christmas tree or lighting the menorah. “Home Alone” has become one of those, and the SSO will offer a unique take on the new classic on Dec. 10.

“The project we will present this year has enormous popularity, and ‘Home Alone’ seemed like a natural fit with my vision for the year,” said Wilson.

The SSO will perform live to a screening of the movie. This is the SSO’s first holiday program in several years, and Wilson said more films with a live orchestra could be possible depending on the response.

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The SSO will meet the circus when Troupe Vertigo’s Cirque Fairytales brings acrobatics and music on Jan. 23 that could interest younger attendees as well.

A new voice will grace the March 4 show, Candice Hoyes, who will take on Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer 1915″.

“Candice Hoyes is a brilliant young artist and her presence on our slate continues the tradition that this orchestra has embraced in modern times of bringing future stars to our stage,” said Wilson.

That concert will also mark off a bucket list item for Wilson by performing Aaron Copland’s “Symphony No. 3″ which he considers one of the greatest American additions to the repertoire and a piece he’s been anxious to do. Audiences can look forward to more he’s wanted to do in future seasons.

A show that was canceled by the COVID shutdown will be back to close out the season on April 29, “Carmina Burana”. Wilson said that show was a near sell-out and brought enormous excitement and he wanted to bring it back with the SSO Chorale rounding out the experience.

All that’s needed to complete the season is an eager audience and Wilson encourages people to explore the talent of the SSO musicians, the music and the guests.

“The Springfield Symphony is a unique and excellent community treasure. It is truly time for the community to step up and support it and I think this exciting season is the perfect catalyst,” he said.

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