Renée Fleming headlines Eugene Symphony’s 52nd Season

Posted on February 22, 2017

EUGENE, OR (Feb. 22, 2017)—The Eugene Symphony’s 2017/18 season opens with soprano Renée Fleming joining the orchestra at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are currently available to full-season subscribers. They will be available to partial-season subscribers on May 9, and to the public on July 18.

Fleming made her Oregon debut to a sold-out crowd with Eugene Symphony in May 2007.

“Plans to bring Ms. Fleming back to Eugene have been in the works for three years,” says Eugene Symphony Executive Director Scott Freck. “We are so glad that the timing is now right and are thrilled for what will be a phenomenal opening of our next season.”

Fleming, affectionately known as “the people’s diva,” is one of the most beloved and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time. She captivates audiences with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, and compelling stage presence. This September, she will perform Samuel Barber’s luminous Knoxville: Summer of 1915 in addition to some of her favorites from opera and musical theater.

7:30 p.m. start time for Symphonic Series concerts Based on analysis of patron feedback, the Eugene Symphony Association has decided to move Symphonic Series concerts (subscription concerts that typically happen once a month from September through May on Thursday evenings) from 8:00 pm to 7:30 p.m. This change will take effect this September 2017.

New Music Director The extensive search to identify the successor to Music Director Danail Rachev is nearing its end. The process began with a public announcement on February 26, 2016, after which Eugene Symphony Association received nearly 250 applicants from around the globe. Nine semi-finalists visited Eugene for interviews in July and August 2016 and three finalists have been critiqued throughout this 2016/17 season. The first, Dina Gilbert, is currently assistant conductor at the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and conducted the orchestra on December 8, 2016. Ryan McAdams, a symphonic, operatic, and contemporary music conductor, followed on January 26, 2017. Francesco Lecce-Chong, Assistant Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, will conduct on March 16, 2017.

The Music Director Search Committee will convene after Lecce-Chong’s concert. Audience input from each of the three finalists’ concerts will be considered, along with feedback from the orchestra and Eugene Symphony Association Board of Directors, staff, and partnering organizations.

The Association expects to name the new Music Director in May 2017.                                                                                                       

Highlights of the 2017/18 season


  • Augusta Read Thomas commission and residency – With grant support from the Hult Endowment of the Oregon Community Foundation, this project is part of Eugene Symphony’s American Encounters composer residency initiative. Now in its fifteenth year, American Encounters promotes the continued vitality of new American music. The collaboration includes two separate concerts, one on September 28, 2017 with the West Coast premiere of Thomas’ 9­minute orchestral work “Radiant Circles” (2011). Then, on April 19, 2018, the West Coast premiere of a new 30­minute Thomas composition for percussion and orchestra, “Sonorous Earth” co­commissioned by ESA and the Chicago Philharmonic Society. For this piece, ESA will engage noted Chicago-based ensemble Third Coast Percussion.
  • The Four Seasons of the McKenzie River (#McKenzie4Seasons) – With grant support from the Hult Endowment of the Oregon Community Foundation, Eugene Symphony presents this year-long project in partnership with McKenzie River Trust and Travel Lane County. The project highlights the beautiful nature of Oregon's McKenzie River with digital imagery projected above the stage while the orchestra performs Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons on February 15, 2018. The public is invited to submit hi-resolution photographs and video of the McKenzie River and its environs, throughout all seasons of the year. Submitted imagery will be selected through a juried process for inclusion in the final production of a full-length video by Attic Media, Inc. Submission guidelines:
  • Handel’s Messiah – Eugene Symphony and Eugene Symphony Chorus will perform Handel’s Messiah on December 7, 2017, marking the first ESA performance of this beloved classic in more than a decade.

Award-winning work and artists

  • Renée Fleming, soprano: Fleming has received four GRAMMY Awards for Best Classical Vocal Performance (1999, 2003, 2010 and 2013) and one for Best Classical Crossover Album (2010; Songs of Joy & Peace). She also received the 2012 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.
  • Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway: Commissioned by Nashville Symphony under its Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and played by cellist Zuill Bailey, Michael Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway – a new concerto for cello and orchestra – won a 2017 GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Compendium, Best Classical Composition, and Best Classical Instrumental Solo.

  • Third Coast Percussion: Performing a new work by Augusta Read Thomas with Eugene Symphony on April 19, 2018, Third Coast Percussion won a 2017 GRAMMY Award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.
  • Jon Kimura Parker, pianist – Playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Eugene Symphony on January 25, 2018, Parker is an accomplished pianist, educator, and an Officer of The Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian honor.
  • Simone Porter, violinist – Performing Paganini’s Violin Concerto with Eugene Symphony on November 16, 2017, Porter, at 20 years old, has been declared “on the cusp of a major career.” (LA Times)

  • Rachel Barton Pine, violinist – Playing Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons as digital imagery projects above it on February 15, 2018, Pine is known for defying boundaries and for her innate gift for emotional communication, on and off the stage.                                                                                

2017/18 Season Programming – Full Details

September 28, 2017 – Circles of Life
*Joyce Yang, piano

Augusta Read Thomas: Radiant Circles

*Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

Imagine the sun and stars rotating around you as you listen to the opening of our 2017/18 season with Radiant Circles, the first of two works by Augusta Read Thomas* we premiere this year. Then, Beethoven’s concerto reveals tantalizing hints of the emerging genius in a musical selfie of the young composer, while Tchaikovsky’s most popular symphony overflows with fateful drama.

*Thomas’ work is part of our American Encounters initiative, which showcases vibrant new music.

October 19, 2017 – Piano Fireworks
*Conrad Tao, piano

Mozart: Symphony No. 31, “Paris”

*Ravel: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand

*Liszt: Totentanz

Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1, “Classical”

This eclectic program juxtaposes piano pyrotechnics with style and elegance. Mozart’s “Paris” is light and graceful in spirit. Ravel’s concerto, commissioned by a pianist who lost his right arm in World War I, is literally played with just the left hand! Liszt’s Totentanz is a dark and thrilling theme-and-variations for piano and orchestra. Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony concludes the evening with sophisticated music that has in-your-face humor and a modern twist.

November 16, 2017 – Paganini Violin Concerto
*Simone Porter, violin

Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture

Brahms: Serenade No. 2

*Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 1

20-year-old Seattle-born rising star violinist Simone Porter performs Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1, a work so virtuosic and stunning that your jaw may actually drop. We also perform Brahms’ sunny Serenade No. 2, a youthful precursor to his masterful symphonies, and Berlioz’ Roman Carnival Overture, one of his most brilliant orchestral works.

December 7, 2017 – Handel’s Messiah
Eugene Symphony Chorus

Handel: Messiah

What better way to celebrate the holidays than with the most beloved oratorio ever written? Composed in just three weeks, Messiah showcases Handel’s gift for melody and drama. The Eugene Symphony Chorus joins the orchestra for the complete Messiah, featuring all your favorite arias and choruses. Hallelujah!

January 25, 2018 – Grieg & Schubert
*Jon Kimura Parker, piano

*Grieg: Piano Concerto

Schubert: Symphony No. 9, “Great”

Take the chill out of January with Edvard Grieg’s majestic piano concerto, one of the most beloved concertos in the piano repertoire. We’ve paired it with Schubert’s expansive final Symphony No. 9, about which fellow composer Robert Schumann wrote, “It reveals to us something more than beautiful song, mere joy and sorrow…it leads us into regions which we had never before explored.”

February 15, 2018 – The Four Seasons of the McKenzie River
*Rachel Barton Pine, violin

Dvořák: In Nature’s Realm

*Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (with projected imagery of the McKenzie River)

Elgar: In the South

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine showcases her “bravura technique and soulful musicianship” (New York Times) with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, which we present with projected images* of the McKenzie River in each glorious season of the year. Our tribute to the beauty around us begins with Dvořák’s In Nature’s Realm and ends with Elgar’s In The South, a vividly colorful homage to the Italian countryside. *Submit your photos of the McKenzie River for possible use in this production. More info at

March 15, 2018 – Tales of Hemingway
Zuill Bailey, cello

Falla: Ritual Fire Music from El Amor Brujo

Michael Daugherty: Tales of Hemingway

Ravel: Valses nobles et sentimentales

Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol

Ernest Hemingway’s greatest stories come to life in Michael Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway, a new concerto for cello and orchestra in which each movement is inspired by a different novel. We’ve enhanced his passion for Spain with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, which features signature Spanish rhythms and flavors, and with de Falla’s evocative Ritual Fire Dance from his ballet El Amor Brujo. Ravel’s Waltzes are full of subtlety and charm.

April 19, 2018 – Earth & Sea
Third Coast Percussion
Eugene Symphony Chorus

Dukas: Fanfare from La Peri

Augusta Read Thomas: Sonorous Earth (West Coast Premiere & Eugene Symphony Commission)

Hovhaness: Symphony No. 2, “Mysterious Mountain”

Debussy: La mer (The Sea)

Trumpeting acclaim to the natural world, this concert opens with celebratory brass fanfare by Dukas. Then, we conclude our two-part collaboration with Augusta Read Thomas as Third Coast Percussion performs the West Coast premiere of Sonorous Earth, which features ceremonial bells from cultures all over the world. The expansive melodies of Hovhaness’ “Mysterious Mountain” draw musical outlines of rugged skylines, and Debussy’s La mer captures the essence of the ocean in all its ever-changing moods.

May 17, 2018 – Mahler’s Fifth

Haydn: Symphony No. 88

Mahler: Symphony No. 5

Our final concert of the season features Mahler’s monumental Fifth Symphony. This iconic work, with its characteristic mix of joy and upheaval, speaks to the uncertainties of our times. It also includes the exquisite Adagietto, a musical love letter to his wife that will touch your heart. We’ve paired Mahler’s masterpiece with Haydn’s Symphony No. 88, one of his most buoyant and popular symphonies.


Renée Fleming
Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 7:30pm
Renée Fleming, soprano

Samuel Barber: Knoxville: Summer of 1915 Selection of opera and musical theater pieces

Tickets for Full-Season Subscribers: $50-$100. Available with full-season subscriptions now.
Tickets for the public: Prices may vary. Available July 18.

Cirque de la Symphonie Holiday Spectacular
Sunday, December 17, 2017, 2:30pm

Celebrate the holidays with the Eugene Symphony while watching astonishing feats of acrobatic wizardry on – and above – the stage. You’ll hear favorites like Sleigh Ride and music from The Nutcracker while the orchestra is surrounded by aerial flyers, contortionists, jugglers, and dancers. Bring the whole family!

Tickets: Adults: $20-$65  Youth under 18: $20
Available to full-season subscribers now, partial-season subscribers on May 9, and the public on August 8                                             

For more information, please visit For questions and to schedule interviews, contact Marketing Director Lindsey McCarthy or 541-687-9487 x106.

About Eugene Symphony
Now in its 51st season, the Eugene Symphony is a nonprofit and 83-member orchestra based in Eugene, Oregon. It reaches more than 25,000 adults and children annually with live music performances. Recognized as a cornerstone of the performing arts in Oregon's southern Willamette Valley, Eugene Symphony pursues its mission of enriching lives through the power of music by presenting annual classical and pops concerts, as well as music education and community engagement programs, regularly commissioning and premiering new American works, and disseminating its performances via radio broadcasts and recordings.