The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra has announced its 2018-19 season, and it offers everything from some rarified treats for devoted classical music fans (such as the first local performance of a symphony by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu and some new works by contemporary composers) to a couple of concerts likely to delight pop music fans (the return of the endlessly popular piano rocker Ben Folds and a concert featuring R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills).
And, just for good measure, the orchestra also will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth in its preseason trio of concerts, offer a set a performances aimed directly at kids and provide live soundtracks for the classic films “Jurassic Park” and “Home Alone.”
“Whenever we program a concert or a season, we try to think of what we do can to create new experiences for the audience and the musicians, whether it is with new or old music,” said symphony music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya.
And, to that end, the symphony is changing its schedule with visiting soloists. For the first time, guest artists will be invited to come to town for the week leading up to their performances to participate in community outreach projects.
Here is a breakdown of the various series of concerts the symphony will offer in 2018-19:
Among the highlights in these concerts will be the season opener Sept. 14-16, which features James Ehnes — a superb violinist who has dazzled audiences here on numerous occasions — performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto as part of an all-Tchaikovsky evening.
But don’t be fooled by that traditional start. The season also will include modern works, such as the Martinu symphony, which is a 20th-century work, and the North American premiere of the first symphony by Peruvian composer Jimmy Lopez.
“He has grown with us. For the last eight or 10 years, we have been doing his music,” said Harth-Bedoya. “But I think this [symphony] is his crowning achievement.
That performance will be recorded and paired with another Lopez work performed by the symphony, “Bel Canto: A Symphonic Canvas,” for a future CD release.
Finally, the season will come to a relatively quiet close May 17-19, 2019, with a type of work that is not often heard in symphony halls — a piece for classical guitar and orchestra. Guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas will perform Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Fantasia para un gentilhombre.”
Sept. 14-16 — All-Tchaikovsky program featuring that composer’s Violin Concerto (with soloist James Ehnes), Symphony No. 6 and “Capriccio Italien.” Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
Oct. 5-7 — Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No. 1 with soloist Maja Bogdanovic, and works by Britten, Smetana and Debussy. Eugene Tzigane, conductor.
Oct. 26-28 — Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Alessio Bax, the world premiere of “Canto de Semillas” by Antonio Juan-Marcos and selections from Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe.” Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
Nov. 9-11 — Richard Strauss Oboe Concerto with soloist Jennifer Corning Lucio, and works by Copland, Liszt and Marquez. Jacomo Bairos, conductor.
Jan. 11-13, 2019 — North American premiere of Symphony No. 1: The Travails of Persiles and Sigismunda by Jimmy Lopez, and Richard Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra.” Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
Feb. 1-3, 2019 — Bruch Violin Concerto with soloist Simone Porter, and works by Schumann and Brahms. Andrew Grams, conductor.
Feb. 22-24, 2019 — Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Stephen Hough, and works by Stravinsky and Sibelius. Ruth Reinhardt, conductor.
March 15-17, 2019 — Richard Strauss “Four Last Songs” with soprano Jessica Rivera, and Mahler Symphony No. 5. Robert Spano, conductor.
April 5-7, 2019 — “Switch [Concerto of Percussion]” by visiting composer Andrew Norman, performed with soloist Colin Currie, Martinu Symphony No. 1 and Dvorak’s “Carnival Overture.” Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
May 17-19, 2019 — Rodrigo “Fantasia para un gentilhombre” with guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas, Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 and “Dances of Galata” by Zoltan Kodaly. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
Harth-Bedoya makes no secret of which 2018-19 Pops concerts he has already circled on his calendar.
“It is going to be one of my personal highlights. I love it,” Harth-Bedoya enthused about the March 8-10, 2019, concerts featuring Mariachi Los Camperos.
Harth-Bedoya has conducted mariachi and orchestra performances at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and he feels the concept should also be a good fit here.
“Come on. We live in Texas,” he said.
Also of note is the return of the eclectic trio Time for Three on Nov. 2-4, 2019. Its classically trained members bring their backgrounds to bear on side trips into other musical styles and genres, covering artists ranging from the Beatles to Kanye West.
And one of the Pops concerts took on an added poignancy when Neil Diamond recently announced that he was retiring from touring due to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The Oct. 12-14 Neil Diamond tribute concerts were planned long before that sad news was known.
Sept. 7-9 — “Superhero Soundtrack.” Selections from the scores for a wide range of the comic book superhero films including “Spider-Man,” “Batman” and “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Stuart Chafetz, conductor.
Oct. 12-14 — “Super Diamond: A Tribute to Neil Diamond.” Ron Spigelman, conductor.
Nov. 2-4 — “Time for Three.” The trio (two violins and double bass) perform pop and classical hits with the orchestra.
Nov. 23-25 — “Home for the Holidays.” The symphony’s annual holiday concert ushers in the Christmas season. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
Jan. 18-20, 2019 — “Ragtime, Blues & All That Jazz.” Trumpeter Byron Stripling is the guest artist for a program that runs from Scott Joplin to B.B. King.
March 8-10, 2019 — “Miarchi Los Camperos: Viva Mexico, Viva America!” The Grammy Award-winning group plays and sings with the symphony. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
March 22-24, 2019 — “Jurassic Park in Concert.” Damon Gupton, conductor. The symphony performs John Williams’ soundtrack live for a screening of this Steven Spielberg classic.
There are a couple of blockbusters among the special concerts in the 2018-19 season.
Popular singer-songwriter Ben Folds, last seen at Bass Hall in 2015, returns to deliver his keyboard-driven pop rock with the orchestra Sept. 24.
And this year’s gala concert on Feb. 9, 2019, features R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills performing his Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra.
Sept. 24 — Ben Folds
Dec. 3 — Handel’s “Messiah.” The annual presentation of this Christmas season icon. Alejandro Gomez Guillen, conductor.
Dec. 15 — The orchestra ventures out to Will Rogers Auditorium to present a live soundtrack for the classic Christmas movie “Home Alone.”
Dec. 31 — This New Year’s Eve concert features vocalist Cary Hoffman in a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
Feb. 9, 2019 — Violinist Robert McDuffie is the featured soloist in the Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra by R.E.M. drummer Mike Mills, who also performs in this gala concert. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
For the past several seasons, the symphony has provided a little appetizer for its fall concerts in the form of a weekend of three distinct concerts in late August, usually grouped around a theme or particular composer under the banner of “Classical Masters Festival.”
This year, that series is dubbed “Lenny at 100: A Bernstein Centennial Festival,” a series of concerts honoring that great American composer and conductor, who was born on Aug. 25, 1918, and died in 1990.
Aug. 24 — Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story,” “Slava! A Political Overture” and Symphony No. 1. Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
Aug. 25 — Three Dance Episodes from “On the Town,” Sonata for Clarinet and suite from “On the Waterfront.” David Shifrin, clarinet. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor.
Aug. 26 — Overture to “Candide,” Three Dances from “Fancy Free,” “Chichester Palms” and various vocal selections. Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano, and Michael Adams, baritone. Miguel Harth Bedoya, conductor.
Finally, the 2018-19 season will include a new series of concerts designed to bring children and adults to the concert hall together. The Family Series is made up of three concerts scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturdays. They highlight musical sources that should resonant with very young listeners.
Sept. 8 — “Superhero Soundtrack Junior.” (A scaled-down version of the Pops series concert using the same theme.)
Nov. 3 — “The Music of Harry Potter.”
Feb. 2, 2019 — “Jurassic Parts.”
With the exception of the live soundtrack screening of “Home Alone” at Will Rogers Auditorium, all concerts are at Bass Hall.
Single tickets for the 2018-19 season go on sale July 30.
For information, visit www.fwsymphony.org.