Celebrity Series announces a bevy of firsts for 2023-2024 season

May 2, 2023 at 6:00 am

By Jonathan Blumhofer

PIANO PIANO: Isata Kanneh-Mason (October 13, 14) and Daniil Trifonov (November 15) play the Celebrity Series this fall. Photos: Kanneh-Mason by David Venni; Trifonov courtesy of the artist

Familiar faces, new voices, belated debuts and more highlight the Celebrity Series 2023-2024 season that was announced today and opens this fall with a free music festival on the Charles River waterfront celebrating Boston’s homegrown jazz scene.

The return of Jazz Along The Charles on October 7 also marks the arrival of new artistic director, Nicole Taney, in charge of programming the Celebrity Series as it welcomes a new partner venue and presents a concert calendar as varied and diverse as any in the long history of this self-described “mainstay of Boston’s cultural life.”

Along with visiting orchestras, chamber groups, piano virtuosos and a beloved American soprano, series patrons can choose Brazilian dance, Broadway song, Afro-Cuban jazz, stand-up comedy, and a witty hybrid concert/lecture series that explains the genius underlying great musical works. A number of ticketed in-person events will also be live-streamed for online viewing.

The Celebrity Series’ classical slate for 2023-2024 begins on October 13 with a return visit by pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, who is giving her first Series recital as a solo artist while inaugurating a new Series partnership with 300-seat Meadow Hall at the Groton Hill Music Center in Groton. Kanneh-Mason repeats her program the next night at the Series’ mainstay venue, 1,051-seat Jordan Hall in Boston.

She’s the first of a veritable who’s-who of instrumentalists on the Celebrity Series fall schedule. Next is an all-star trio of pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, violinist Lisa Batiashvili, and cellist Gautier Capuçon in a joint recital at Jordan Hall on October 20.

On November 5, cellist Alisa Weilerstein presents Fragments 1 at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge. Billed as “an immersive, multi-sensory experience,” the evening pairs Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 with new works co-commissioned by the Series, setting the performance to lighting effects and other visual elements.

Later that week, pianist Sir Andras Schiff returns to Jordan Hall on November 10 to perform Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Celebrated Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov makes his long-awaited solo recital debut at Boston’s Symphony Hall on November 15 with works of Rameau, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Beethoven. Rounding out 2023, pianist Jeremy Denk plays a program dedicated to female composers at Jordan Hall on December 9 and in Groton on the 10th.

The New Year sees French pianist Hélène Grimaud make her Boston-area recital debut at Jordan Hall on January 20th and in Groton on January 21, playing Beethoven, Brahms and Bach. Also at Jordan Hall, pianist Víkingur Ólafsson returns to town to perform Bach’s Goldberg Variations (February 10) and the Takács Quartet presents a concert of pieces by Haydn, Beethoven and Nokuthula Ngwenyama (February 16).

Time for Three, the unclassifiable trio of Charles Yang (violin, vocals), Nicolas Kendall (violin, vocals), and Ranaan Meyer (double bass, vocals) appears at Sanders Theatre on February 24.

On April 7 at Jordan Hall, violinist Christian Teztlaff and pianist Kirill Gerstein team up for a recital of music by Janáček, Bartók, Brahms and Kurtág, and the Boston premier of Thomas Adès’ suite from “The Tempest.”

On April 9, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott make their first recital appearance together at Symphony Hall since 2015. They play pieces by Fauré, Sérgio Assad, Dvořák, Pärt, Shostakovich, and Franck. On April 14, the Brentano String Quartet presents “works from three centuries and vastly different styles” at Jordan Hall.

The upcoming season sees several additional Series debuts: Armenian violinist Diana Adamyan and pianist Renana Gutman, December 7 at Pickman Hall; saxophonist Jess Gillam, March 12 at Pickman Hall; and pianist Bruce Liu with a centuries-spanning recital on March 23 at Jordan Hall.

The Isidore String Quartet — winners of the Banff Competition and Avery Fisher Career Grant laureates — make their local debut on March 27 at Pickman Hall with a repeat concert on the 28th in Groton of works by Haydn, Billy Childs and Beethoven.

Superstar soprano Renée Fleming leads off the season’s lineup of vocal artists with a recital at Symphony Hall on November 12,

On November 14, tenor Karim Sulayman and guitarist Sean Shibe make their respective Series debuts at Pickman Hall as a duo performing a wide-ranging program: 16th and 17th Century Italian and English works, traditional Sephardic and Arab-Andalusian songs, Benjamin Britten’s “Songs from the Chinese,” 20th Century and contemporary compositions, and more.

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and pianist Bryan Wagorn perform at Jordan Hall on January 19, while baritone Justin Austin and pianist Howard Watkins make their Series debuts on February 21 at Pickman Hall.

Other season highlights include the return to Symphony Hall, after a thirty-year hiatus, of the Orchestre de Paris. Their March 17 concert features pianist Yunchan Lim, the 2022 Cliburn gold medalist, performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and music director Klaus Mäkelä conducting additional pieces by Debussy and Stravinsky.

Also of note is the Series debut of conductor Jakub Hrůša and the Bamberger Symphony. They bring a slate of German Romantic fare by Wagner, Brahms, and Robert Schumann to Symphony Hall on April 24. Lukáš Vondráček is the soloist in the latter’s Piano Concerto.

Rob Kapilow’s “What Makes it Great?” series is back for two dates, both at Jordan Hall. The first, on November 11, focuses on the music of Joni Mitchell and Carole King. On February 3, Kapilow and A Far Cry team up for an examination of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Serenade for Strings.

The Series’ Stave Sessions returns in March for a four-night festival of contemporary music. This year’s lineup features Nathalie Joachim’s song cycle, “Ki moun ou ye” (March 20); guitarist JIJI’s “Classical Goes Electric” (March 21); Chromic Duo’s “Room of Oceans” (March 22); and the Mark Lettieri Group (March 23). All performances are in the Crystal Ballroom at Somerville Theater.

Non-classical highlights of the season include Broadway star Audra McDonald at Symphony Hall (October 22), Luciana Souza and Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto in concert at the Berklee Performance Center (October 28), Jazz at Lincoln Center and Wynton Marsalis celebrating drummer Max Roach at Symphony Hall (January 28), and Broadway legend Patti LuPone presenting a career retrospective at Symphony Hall (April 2).

Also, comedian Dave Sedaris returns to Symphony Hall (April 12) and Chucho Valdes, Dianne Reeves and Joe Lovano team up for “Duets” at the Berklee Performance Center (May 4).

Dance offerings include the Brazilian troupe Grupo Corpo at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre (October 28 and 29), Music from the Sole at New England Conservatory’s Plimpton Shattuck Black Box Theatre (January 12 and 13), and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Boch Center Wang Theatre (May 2-5).

Pre-sale for tickets begins on May 2 for donors. Subscriptions can be renewed starting on May 15 and new subscriptions will be accepted beginning May 16. Single tickets will be made available on August 22. celebrityseries.org

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