“As we approach our 30th anniversary season, I am thrilled that NCCO will present perhaps its most striking program to date,” New Century Chamber Orchestra Music Director Daniel Hope told SFCV, prompting a brief trip down memory lane.
It was in 1992 that “just another chamber group” was born with substantial help from San Francisco’s Freeway Philharmonic musicians, the conductorless string orchestra of 17 exploding to the international stage in a few short years.
From Stuart Canin as its first music director (1992–1999), to Krista Bennion Feeney (1999–2006), to Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (2008–2017), then to Hope, New Century has been led by outstanding violinists and famously active musicians.
“Most striking program” is a bold claim for an ensemble which has been performing, introducing and commissioning new works, has produced seven CDs, revived neglected works from the past, and has been bringing works from other genres such as jazz and rock into the chamber orchestra setting. Even during the worst days of the pandemic, Hope managed to keep performing with NCCO musicians.
Back to the present and future, with Hope:
“In particular I am looking forward to our ‘Berlin 1938’ production, which we will host three times this September. This is a unique music-theater piece, which I originally conceived in chamber ensemble format and which now, thanks to our ensemble, will be expanded on many different musical and theatrical levels.
“It tells the story of the year 1938, month for month, with Thomas Hampson and Horst Maria Merz, both of them a tour de force in their own right, assuming the roles of radio presenters and singers from that era.
“The Presidio Theatre, which dates back to just a year after 1938, will provide the ideal venue as we invite the audience to travel with us back in time and to explore the sights and sounds of an eventful and fateful year which changed the course of history, many of the repercussions of which we are still experiencing today.”
That’s the opening of the “Music That Moves You” season on Sept. 16–18. Next, it’s Jan. 19–21, 2023, a program called “Cinematic Escapes,” conducted by Hope, and featuring Ukrainian pianist Alexey Botvinov, who escaped from his country when Russia invaded it.
“From the ominous fog horns of the San Francisco Bay in Hitchcock’s Vertigo to the chaotic city streets of Gershwin’s An American in Paris, and more, New Century puts you at the heart of the drama with a selection of music from iconic films.”
Hope and Botvinov join in the performance of the Double Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Orchestra with Percussion by Chinese composer Tan Dun. Co-commissioned by New Century and the Odessa Classics Festival, the Double Concerto received its world premiere at Bing Concert Hall in May 2021.
For Feb. 10–12, Hope and the SF Girls Chorus “Ring in the 30th anniversary with an evening of music that celebrates the friendship, excitement, and discovery that have made New Century the orchestra you love. The SF Girls Chorus return for a special trio of songs in a program that also features Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Major and Haydn’s ‘La Passione’ Symphony.”
Tenor Nicholas Phan is the guest artist for the Hope-led “Points of Origin” concerts on May 11–14, before the orchestra embarks on its second European tour. The program includes music by British composers Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, and Hannah Kendall, as well as the music of Nico Muhly and Jessie Montgomery.
To close the season, New Century will embark on its second European tour, June 10 to 25, 2023, presenting works from its “Cinematic Escapes” and “Points of Origin” programs to audiences around Germany, in addition to performances of Max Richter’s Recomposed: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
Already announced appearances include the orchestra’s return to the Philharmonie Essen, Cologne Philharmonie, and Frauenkirche Dresden, where Daniel Hope serves as artistic director.
Subscriptions to the New Century Chamber Orchestra are now on sale. Available exclusively on a “choose-your-own” basis, two-, three- and four-concert subscriptions range from $54 to $244 and can be purchased by calling (415) 357-1111, ext. 303, or visiting http://www.ncco.org.
Single tickets range in price from $30 to $67.50 and will go on sale August 1 through City Box Office. Discounted $10 single tickets are available for students with a valid ID and $15 single tickets are available for patrons under 35.