YANNICK NÉZET-SÉGUIN AND THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA ANNOUNCE 2019-20 SEASON [with Composer-in-Residence Gabriela Lena Frank and alumni from her Creative Academy of Music for the BeethovenNow Project]


Women innovators and creators take center stage

Six women to take the podium:

Marin Alsop, Karina Canellakis, Jane Glover, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla,

Susanna Mälkki, and Nathalie Stutzmann

Compositions by 12 women to be performed:

Lera Auerbach, Lili Boulanger, Anna Clyne, Zosha Di Castri, Louise Farrenc, Elena Firsova,

 Gabriela Lena Frank, Vivian Fung, Jessica Hunt, Betsy Jolas, Raminta Šerkšnytė

Plus a world premiere by Valerie Coleman to open the subscription season


Gabriela Lena Frank serves as composer-in-residence



Beethoven in contemporary context


To mark Beethoven’s 250th birthday, Nézet-Séguin to conduct all nine symphonies

in one month alongside new works by Gabriela Lena Frank

 and composers from her Creative Academy of Music


Yefim Bronfman, Daniil Trifonov, and Emanuel Ax to perform all five piano concertos

in three binge-worthy weeks;

Gil Shaham to perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto


One-week return to the Academy of Music for first subscription series since December 2001


Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra to bring complete symphony cycle to Carnegie Hall

Music that Transforms

The breadth of the artistic journey, the evolution of orchestral presentation


Nézet-Séguin to conduct Srauss’s Elektra and Bach’s Mass in B minor


John Adams to conduct Philadelphia premiere of his Scheherezade.2;

16 other living composers to be featured on the season


Marin Alsop to conduct highlights from Porgy and Bess,

with soprano Angel Blue and baritone Lester Lynch


Stéphane Denève’s sixth and final season as principal guest conductor will include

performances of Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges


Legendary opera singer Plácido Domingo to perform at Opening Night Concert


Film score series to include Fantasia, An American in Paris, and Up


The Philadelphia Orchestra will present

Joyce DiDonato with Nézet-Séguin’s Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, and

Evgeny Kissin in an all-Beethoven piano recital, his first Philadelphia performance in 25 years



Philadelphia Orchestra furthers commitment to communities of Philadelphia


In partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, the Orchestra will provide

free tickets to teachers, administrators, and staff


Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., concert to include work by Valerie Coleman led by Nézet-Séguin

(Philadelphia, March 5, 2019)—Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky today announced the 2019-20 season of The Philadelphia Orchestra from the stage of Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The Orchestra’s 120th season—Nézet-Séguin’s eighth as music director—embraces and explores the range, creativity, and power of women in music on the podium, in composition, and on stage. The season brings contemporary relevance to the music of Beethoven, juxtaposed with new compositions, in the iconic composer’s 250th birthday year. Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestra demonstrate the transformative power of music, and the organization’s enduring and evolving place among the communities of its home in Philadelphia. A diverse range of music’s most compelling emerging voices will be heard alongside beloved and celebrated figures in music throughout the season.


“The 2019-20 season is incredibly special to me, as it represents our growth artistically, socially, and creatively,” said Nézet-Séguin. “Women will take their rightful place at center stage—as conductors, as composers, and as soloists. And we will reexamine Beethoven in his 250th year, through a contemporary lens. This idea is a metaphor for the new season and the future of your Philadelphia Orchestra: aspiration, transformation, open doors, and the absolute joy of music, for all. Together, we honor our history as we look ambitiously forward.”


“Connection, creativity, community, collaboration—this is the universe of opportunity that I see in Yannick and the Orchestra,” said Tarnopolsky. “Our conversation, for the 2019-20 season and beyond, is about #YourPhilOrch, which is more than just a hashtag. It represents the myriad ways in which The Philadelphia Orchestra serves the diverse communities of Philadelphia, seeks to transform the conventions of the past and set standards as a beacon in the musical world. Of course, at the heart of everything is the music, and we invite all of Philadelphia, and beyond, to be a part of the music—part of your Philadelphia Orchestra.”


Women innovators and creators take center stage in the 2019-20 season. Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestra will present composers, conductors, instrumentalists, vocalists, and thinkers in programs that showcase rarely heard works of the past and inspiring music of today. The world premiere symphonic expansion of Valerie Coleman’s Umoja, a Philadelphia Orchestra commission for opening weekend, sets the stage for a season-long (and beyond) celebration of women’s voices.


"Many women composers who have come before wrote thought-provocative works that challenged standard convention, with a greatness not fully realized until people were ready to listen,” said Coleman. “I am reminded of Maya Angelou's poem ‘Elegy,’ where she mentions that her body that rests in the ground is the source of nurture that allows the roots of her children to grow. I believe The Philadelphia Orchestra and its work is the surrounding soil and strong foundation, for which the contributions of women composers will and must take root to enrich the very fabric of American orchestral music, now and in the future. I am deeply honored to be a part of this new tradition."   


Audiences will hear compositions by 12 women: Lera Auerbach, Lili Boulanger, Anna Clyne, Valerie Coleman, Zosha Di Castri, Louise Farrenc, Elena Firsova, Gabriela Lena Frank, Vivian Fung, Jessica Hunt, Betsy Jolas, and Raminta Šerkšnytė. Six women will take to the podium and more than 13 soloists will be featured, including Marin Alsop, Angel Blue, Karina Canellakis, Joyce DiDonato, Jane Glover, Christine Goerke, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Hélène Grimaud, Leila Josefowicz, Susanna Mälkki, Nathalie Stutzmann, and Yuja Wang.


The work of Gabriela Lena Frank, the Orchestra’s new composer-in-residence, will be the focus of several programs over multiple seasons. In addition to selecting and working with the composers whose pieces will be paired with Beethoven’s symphonies in the 2019-20 season, Frank will maintain a regular presence in the communities of Philadelphia, drawing inspiration for a new piece that will be premiered during the Orchestra’s 2020-21 season.


In addition to a steadfast commitment to women’s voices and artistry on stage, The Philadelphia Orchestra is a Proud Partner of Vision 2020’s Women 100 initiative. Founded and administered by Drexel University’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership, Vision 2020 is a national coalition of individuals and organizations in all 50 states working together for women's economic, political, and social equality in the United States.



“Beethoven’s music was groundbreaking, original, and provocative.

To celebrate his legacy in 2020, we must pay attention to the voices of today

through music that sheds a light on contemporary struggles and aspirations.”––Yannick Nézet-Séguin


The year 2020 marks the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven. The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrates this milestone by performing music by composers of today in dialogue with Beethoven’s symphonies in a concentrated four-week format, March 12 through April 5, 2020. The Orchestra has commissioned works by Composer-in-Residence Gabriela Lena Frank and a diverse group of composers from her Creative Academy of Music, who will offer newly written works that will challenge, inspire, and push boundaries, creating fresh perspectives on the relevance of Beethoven’s legacy today.


“Beethoven passionately decried the forces of intolerance at play in his own lifetime, and he coded both his dismay and ardent optimism in music. Without doubt, this is in line with the philosophical heartbeat of my Creative Academy of Music,” said Frank. “Through my Academy, I set out to create an environment where emerging composers from a vast array of styles can come together for mentorship, readings of works in progress, and world premiere performances from master musicians. While forming new friendships, diversity has proven to be both abundant and authentic as we embrace all contemporary voices to best honor the voices of the past. I am honored that for its inventive celebration of the nine symphonies of such a musical giant in a special year, The Philadelphia Orchestra is investing in the voices of three diverse alumni of my small school who demonstrate themselves to be Beethoven’s kindred spirits.”


The selected composers from Frank’s Creative Academy of Music are Iman Habibi, whose work will be paired with Symphonies No. 5 and No. 6; Jessica Hunt, whose work will be paired with Symphonies No. 2 and No. 3; Carlos Simon, whose work will be paired with Symphonies No. 8, No. 4, and No. 7; and Frank herself, whose work will be paired with Beethoven’s first and last symphonies (No. 1 and No. 9).


This is a rare opportunity for audiences to journey through all of the symphonies, as Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestra illuminate and accentuate the genius of Beethoven—who was completely deaf by the time he composed his final, glorious Ninth Symphony—through the curated lens of Frank. Whether a love letter to Beethoven, a work of dissent, or a reflection on the issues of our time, each commissioned work will help audiences understand Beethoven’s music—and the music of today—in a new light.


In addition to presenting the complete symphony cycle paired with works of today, the Orchestra will perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with virtuoso Gil Shaham, as well as his five piano concertos with three of the greatest living pianists: Yefim Bronfman, Daniil Trifonov, and Emanuel Ax.


Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, performed by Yefim Bronfman and paired with contemporary composer Vivan Fung’s Dust Devils, will bring the Orchestra back to its original home at the Academy of Music for its first subscription concerts outside of Verizon Hall since 2001. The program also features Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3, which received its world premiere on that very stage in 1936.


The Orchestra will also have the unique privilege of presenting all nine symphonies not only in Philadelphia, but also in New York at Carnegie Hall during the same timeframe, as part of Nézet-Séguin’s Carnegie Hall “Perspectives” series for the 2019-20 season.


Music that Transforms


The 2019-20 season will showcase significant artistic works that tell stories that transform and transcend their art form. Audiences can experience works by 17 living composers, including John Adams, who will lead his own Scheherazade.2, Dramatic Symphony for Violin and Orchestra, featuring the artist for whom it was written, violinist Leila Josefowicz. Adams’s work was inspired by the plight of women in history; his musical exploration of the present-day struggle of women in a patriarchal society reveals a modern-day Scheherazade, a clever and fearless woman confronting oppression.


“I imagine a Scheherazade who is not just a clever and inventive wife caught in an impossible situation, but rather an empowered woman, both sensuous and capable of fighting back,” said Adams. “In Leila Josefowicz, for whom I wrote this piece, there is no one better to embody the fire and passion that my latter-day Scheherazade should radiate. Leila’s role as soloist and feisty heroine makes a perfect fit for The Philadelphia Orchestra’s WomenNOW initative. To complete the program, I’ve chosen two works of rich fantasy and vivid orchestration by two of my favorites, Stravinsky and Ravel. They should do well to lay the groundwork for my own ‘dramatic symphony.’”


The Fabulous Philadelphians will also breathe new life into monumental works under the baton of Nézet-Séguin, including Strauss’s Elektra, which will be given a symphonic staging, and Bach’s Mass in B minor. Additionally, highlights from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess will be led by Marin Alsop.


The music of timeless cinematic classics will come to life in a new film series featuring the unforgettable scores from Fantasia, An American in Paris,and Up, all performed live alongside the films. Stéphane Denève will conclude a stellar tenure as principal guest conductor with three gorgeous programs, including a rare presentation of Ravel’s L'Enfant et les sortilèges, featuring a libretto by influential 20th-century writer Colette.




The Philadelphia Orchestra takes great pride in its hometown, performing for the people of Philadelphia all year long, from Verizon Hall to community centers, classrooms to hospitals, and over the airwaves and online. Through its HEAR initiative and thoughtful collaborations with partners around the region, the Orchestra continues to deepen its ties to the city it calls home. Building on the success of its work with the School District of Philadelphia—through School Concerts, the School Partnership Program, the School Ensemble Program, and the All-City Orchestra Fellowship—the Orchestra will launch a free ticket program for teachers, administrators, and staff, designed to give back to those who devote so much to our children and to our communities. This fall, communication will be sent to Philadelphia School District employees with instructions on how to sign up for the program. Each employee who signs up will receive weekly access to two free tickets per concert based on availability. For more information, visit www.philorch.org/teachertickets.


"We are thrilled to expand our partnership with The Philadelphia Orchestra through the creation of a program that will provide every teacher in the School District of Philadelphia with access to the benefits of live instrumental music performed at the highest caliber,” said Dr. William Hite, superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia. “The Philadelphia Orchestra has also been an integral partner in our efforts to expand the reach of instrumental music, which is now offered in every K-8 school across the city. We know that exposure to the arts is critical to our students's development and we are proud to work with the Orchestra to ensure all students have access to quality learning opportunities."


To illustrate its commitment to Philadelphia, the Orchestra––as a convener and collaborator––has also unveiled a series of photos for the 2019-20 season, showcasing musicians from the Orchestra in the city that inspires them. The photographs were taken by talented local photographers and in partnership with some of Philadelphia’s preeminent institutions.


Followers and fans of the Orchestra on social media will see the hashtag #YourPhilOrch, and are invited to share memories using the hashtag #MyPhilOrch to highlight the special moments that occur in Verizon Hall and throughout the region, country, and world, as the Orchestra performs.

Full season and more details here:


Gabriela Lena Frank