Programs and changes for orchestra's 2011-12 season

Soprano Dawn Upshaw will start the season with Gershwin, Bernstein, and Sondheim.
Soprano Dawn Upshaw will start the season with Gershwin, Bernstein, and Sondheim.
Posted: March 01, 2011

Charles Dutoit will conduct a concert performance of Strauss' Elektra; Simon Rattle leads a week of Brahms and Schumann; Christoph Eschenbach returns; and pianists Maurizio Pollini, Nikolaï Lugansky, and Yuja Wang perform core repertoire in the Philadelphia Orchestra's 2011-12 season.

Next year, the orchestra, grappling with soft attendance, will offer slightly fewer core-subscription concerts.

And some ticket prices will be lower, though an orchestra spokeswoman said she could not calculate how much, on average, prices would drop.

The year is Dutoit's last as chief conductor. Yannick Nézet-Séguin takes over in 2012-13, but next season, he increases his presence by leading three programs, including a Brahms German Requiem, Mahler's Symphony No. 6, and, from the harpsichord, Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.

Dutoit has only 10 programs, leaving room for a list of intriguing guest conductors, including Vladimir Jurowski for a week (Shostakovich Symphony No. 7, "Leningrad"), the orchestra debuts of young Brit Robin Ticciati and Italian Nicola Luisotti, and the first appearance of Esa-Pekka Salonen in 25 years.

The season is bookended by sopranos of decidedly different stripes. Dawn Upshaw and Dutoit start with an unusually late opener (Oct. 13) of Gershwin, Bernstein, and Sondheim; Danish Straussian/Wagnerian Eva Johansson brings things to a close in the title role of Elektra on May 10 and 12. Also in the cast are Siegfried Jerusalem as Aegisthus and Jane Henschel as Klytemnestra.

The orchestra says this is its first performance of the work.

Dutoit ends his tenure with a career signature: Ravel's complete Daphnis and Chloé.

The season includes no Philadelphia Orchestra commissions and is shy on works of living composers. On subscription concerts, Jennifer Higdon, Salonen, Lorenzo Palomo, and Michael Torke are represented.

Of ticket prices, orchestra spokeswoman Katherine Blodgett said in an e-mail:

"As we looked toward the 2012 season with a goal of rebuilding our audiences and boosting our ticket sales, we engaged in exhaustive research to evaluate ticket pricing. Every seat in the house was evaluated, and historical trends, capacity, and buying patterns were all examined minutely. We learned that the market was telling us that in order to bring in more people, we need to lower our prices. So we rescaled pricing throughout the house and built ticket prices from the ground up. As a result, all things remaining the same (night and seat location), subscribers will pay the same or less for their tickets.

"Another result is that we will spread affordable pricing throughout the house, bringing it down to the orchestra level, as well as throughout the upper tiers."

While she could not quantify an average or mean price reduction for subscriptions - the top price will be cut to $972 from $1,125 - she did say that the price range for single tickets would come down, to $10 to $124, from $10 to $130.


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Contact music critic Peter Dobrin at or 215-854-5611. He blogs at


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