Three Familiar Faces and Three New Maestros Will Take the Baton During the Long Beach Symphony 2015-16 Classical Season

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There’s good news at Long Beach Symphony.  Ticket sales were up by 27% last season, one in which the Symphony began its search for a new Music Director inviting six guest conductors to lead its performances. The search, as well as the excitement, continues during 2015-16, as the Symphony invites three of the conductors from last season back for another chance to dazzle audiences, joined by three new maestros.  

Sponsored by LEXUS, the Classical season will combine popular, crowd-pleasing American, French, German and Russian masterworks with some rarely heard works by composers such as Lukas Foss, Ticheli and Samuel Barber. Soloists will be drawn from the Symphony’s own world-class musicians with flutist Heather Clark, harpist Marcia Dickstein, cellist Cécilia Tsan and concertmaster, Roger Wilkie, as well as celebrated local soprano, Elissa Johnston, and the virtuosic young pianist, Natasha Paremski.

Opening night, October 10, 2015, features music from the late Romantic period led by returning conductor, Edwin Outwater, currently Director of Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, whose rousing performance in Long Beach last November earned him the repeat invitation. His program this year includes Berlioz’ short Roman Carnival Overture, followed by Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole featuring Concertmaster Roger Wilkie.  It concludes with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, a 10-movement suite that was originally composed for piano and then transcribed for orchestra by Maurice Ravel. Equally at home interpreting canonical masterworks, premiering new commissions, and creating truly innovative, audience-building programming initiatives, Maestro Outwater, a Southern California native, is described by the San Francisco Classical Voice as someone “headed for a top-tier future.”

A concert of 20th Century American music follows on November 14, led by another alumnus conductor, Edward Cumming, with works by Bernstein, Ticheli, Gershwin, and Lukas Foss’s Renaissance Concerto for Flute and Orchestra with soloist Heather Clark. Maestro Cumming is currently Director of Orchestral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at The Hartt School. Prior to assuming this role, he was Music Director of the Hartford Symphony for 9 years. Mr. Cumming has distinguished himself for his remarkable ability to connect directly with listeners, a quality that most certainly came through during his last performance in Long Beach, and one that he will again have the opportunity to demonstrate during the town-hall-style talk that he will deliver after this year’s concert.

In 2016, the Classical series returns to the lush sounds of the late Romantic and Impressionist periods with works by French composers Ravel and Saint-Saëns, led by Benjamin Wallfisch, a London-born composer and conductor who, at the age of 22, was appointed Associate Conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra.  His work in film music to date spans 10 years, 45 movies and has earned him multiple international awards and nominations. In 2013, he took up the position of Music Director of the Crested Butte Music Festival of Colorado, in addition to his appearances as guest conductor with fine symphonies across the globe.

Subsequently, the Symphony welcomes Maestra Gemma New, who will present two vocal/orchestral works with celebrated local soprano, Elissa Johnston: a performance of Mahler’s magnificent Symphony No. 4 and Barber’s 1947 work, Knoxville:  Summer of 1915, as well as J.S. Bach’s Overture to Orchestral Suite #4 in D Major. Renowned for insightful interpretations and thrilling performances, the New Zealand-born Ms. New currently serves as Associate Conductor for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and has been named the new Music Director for the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Ontario, Canada. Ms. New is Founder and Director of the Lunar Ensemble, a contemporary music collective in Baltimore and is a 2014/15 Dudamel Conducting Fellow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Maestro Lucas Richman’s performance of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Chausson in April of this year garnered high praise from audience and reviewers alike, earning him an invitation to return in April 2016 with a program that includes Handel’s Harp Concerto, as well as much-loved symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven.    Richman has served as Music Director for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra since 2003 and as Music Director and Conductor for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra since 2010. He received a Grammy Award in 2011 in the category of Best Classical Crossover Album for having conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Christopher Tin’s classical/world fusion album, “Calling All Dawns.”

The season concludes in June with 3 works from the Romantic period: a short work by Brahms, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, and Chopin’s beloved Piano Concerto No. 1, with guest soloist, Natasha Paremski, and guest conductor, Eckart Preu. Mr. Preu is Music Director of the Spokane Symphony (WA) and the Stamford Symphony (CT). During his illustrious career, he has held the positions of Associate Conductor of the Richmond Symphony (2001-2004), Resident Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra (1997-2004) and of the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra (1999-2004), among numerous other posts and guest appearances.

Remarking on the season, Executive Director Kelly Ruggirello said, “Long Beach Symphony is on solid ground, ending in a surplus again last fiscal year.  We are able to attract top talent for our Music Director search, because of all that we and the City of Long Beach have to offer: world-class musicians, top-notch arts and cultural institutions, a temperate climate, beautiful beaches, a wide variety of recreational opportunities and highly-rated schools all contribute greatly to the desirability of the position.”

For more information about the Symphony’s 2015-16 season, or to purchase a season subscription, please visit the Symphony’s website at or call 562-436-3203.

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