New Century Chamber Orchestra
New Century Chamber Orchestra just before the pandemic | Credit: Nathan Rabiroff

Daniel Hope, music director of New Century Chamber Orchestra, is on a tear all over Europe, playing and conducting at famous international summer music festivals that are reopening with a vengeance after the pandemic-blighted 2020 season.

Still, the Berlin resident and Zurich Chamber Orchestra music director somehow found time between Salzburg and Verbier, between Dresden and Festival de Torroella, to put together an unusual season for NCCO next year. He and the 19-member conductorless chamber ensemble will be together once again with an attractive mix of classics and contemporary works.

Returning to the stage for the first time since January 2020, New Century will perform four programs in Herbst Theatre, First Congregational Church Berkeley, and First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto; traveling to other Bay Area locations and for single concerts at the Green Music Center and Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall.

The season features two co-commissions: the U.S. premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Violin Concerto, with Hope, and the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s Cello Concerto, with guest leader and soloist Jeff Zeigler. Among other guest artists this season are soprano Leah Hawkins and violist Paul Neubauer.

“I am thrilled to be reunited with my friends and colleagues at New Century Chamber Orchestra and to continue to build upon the many successes that we have shared together over the past few seasons,” Hope wrote in a message.

Violist Paul Neubauer
Violist Paul Neubauer is soloist in NCCO’s May 2022 all-Mozart concerts | Credit: Rosalie O’Connor

“Our numerous virtual broadcasts have kept us connected to our audiences over the past year, and we now look forward to channeling this passion and energy back into concert halls across the Bay Area. This season, I am delighted to welcome a number of superb guest artists including Jeffrey Zeigler, Leah Hawkins and Paul Neubauer, while presenting a diverse collection of new American works by some of today’s finest composers alongside masterworks from the chamber orchestra repertoire.”

NCCO Executive Director Richard Lonsdorf told SF Classical Voice about plans for COVID regulations:

“Given the rapidly changing health guidance in the past few weeks, New Century has not yet finalized its safety and attendance policies for the coming season. At this time, we do not plan on implementing physical distancing in our audience seating, but we are actively discussing masking and vaccine policies to promote a healthy and comfortable environment for our musicians, audience, and staff. We will inform subscribers and ticket holders of the attendance policies in effect closer to the dates of each concert week.

“We realize some audiences may not be comfortable attending with these attendance policies in place, and accordingly this season, we will be happy to exchange, refund, or donate any tickets you feel you cannot use if you contact us prior to your concert date.”

The season opens Sept. 30 – Oct. 3 (Berkeley, Palo Alto, Herbst, Tiburon) with the Turnage premiere, Lament for solo violin and string orchestra; Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s Concertino for Violin and Strings, Op. 42; and Josef Suk’s Serenade for Strings, Op.6.

New Century Chamber Orchestra
Karen Shinozaki Sor, Candace Guirao, Michael Yokas of NCCO at the “Beethoven in the Presidio” concert | Credit: Nathan Rabiroff

A co-commission by Radio France, the NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra, New Century Chamber Orchestra, and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Lament was written before the pandemic as a tribute to Trevor Showler, the partner of Turnage’s publishing manager. It was premiered by Hope and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France last April.

The Nov. 4–7 (Berkeley, Palo Alto, Herbst, San Rafael) concerts are led by Jeff Zeigler, who will also be the soloist in the Mark Adamo world premiere, called Last Year; also on the program, Paola Prestini’s From the Bones to the Fossils, William Grant Still’s Phantom Chapel, and Andy Akiho’s Oscillate.

Prestini’s and Adamo’s new compositions are inspired by the issue of climate change; the cello concerto is inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and explores the idea of how the composer might write this work in the modern era under the threat of global warming.

Hope returns to lead the first concerts in 2022, Jan. 20–23 (Berkeley, Bing Hall, Presidio Theatre, Green Center), with a program of David Diamond’s Rounds for Strings, Florence Price’s Adoration for Violin and Strings (arranged by Paul Bateman), Songs of the Harlem Renaissance for Soprano and Orchestra (with Hawkins), and Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite for 13 instruments.

Leah Hawkins
Soprano Leah Hawkins is the soloist in January concerts featuring Songs of the Harlem Renaissance for Soprano and Orchestra | Credit: Leah Hawkins

Hawkins is performing a suite of newly arranged songs by influential composers of the Harlem Renaissance. A recent alumna of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera, the soprano made her Met mainstage debut as the Strawberry Woman in Porgy and Bess and Masha in The Queen of Spades. She, Hope, and other guests will participate in the NCCO annual gala on Jan. 24; details will be announced in the fall.

Closing the season May 12–14 (Berkeley, Palo Alto, Herbst), Neubauer is one of the soloists in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra, K. 364, for all-Mozart concerts that also present the composer’s Symphony in B-flat Major, K. 45b, and Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550.

Subscriptions to the season are on sale now. Three- and four-concert subscriptions range from $81 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 Sept. 7, through City Box Office and (415) 392-4400. Discounted $10 single tickets are available for students with a valid ID, and $15 single tickets are available for patrons under 35.

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