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The Dallas Symphony Is Back To Performing Live – In September 26

Perhaps the biggest change in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s newly revised, COVID-ready season will be apparent when patrons find their seats at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

No, not the required masks nor the hand sanitizers throughout the building. Not the smaller orchestra onstage. Not even the lack of valet parking (this is Dallas?) except for those people with disabilities.

It’ll be the 2,000-seat Meyerson holding only 50-75 concertgoers. The orchestra is obviously not reopening for the revenue.

The DSO was one of the 51 Dallas-area arts organizations who jointly agreed earlier this month to COVID safety protocols for live performance, and now the orchestra becomes the first of those 51 to announce a full season in compliance with the guidelines. These include requiring masks, offering voluntary temperature checks, distanced seating and staggered audience departures. The ensembles performing onstage will be all volunteers, and the DSO musicians will also be tested for COVID-19 prior to performing. The orchestra had been able to field test a number of these procedures with outdoor chamber music concerts and performances in the Meyerson — and it’s all been done, the official release says, “with the safety of DSO musicians and audiences foremost in planning.”

In fact, the DSO becomes the first major Dallas performing arts organization to re-open like this — with a full, announced season. Because of all the changes — including robot cameras recording concerts so subscribers at home will be able to view videos of them on demand — the new, revised season is called Next Stage. Some Pops concerts have been moved to later dates, while the programming for the main classical series has been changed to suit the smaller orchestra onstage — as well as the intense social fervor of our historic moment. Six Black composers are now featured in the season, and the November 11th concert will be performed in partnership with the Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Project Unity to honor lives lost to racial violence and injustice.

Fabio Luisi conducting the DSO at the Meyerson. Photo: Courtesy of the DSO

But what’s now missing from the season — initially announced March 6th, just as COVID was shutting down the city — what’s missing is a little heartbreaking. Former music director Jaap van Zweden is no longer scheduled to return as part of his 60th birthday celebration, and the DSO is not going to perform at Carnegie Hall with Luisi in charge. It would have been their first return since 2011.

And there’ll be no Verdi Requiem, either — it requires the Dallas Symphony Chorus and a full contingent of musicians to hammer that one home. There’s a celebration of his operas instead, featuring soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, tenor Piero Pretti and bass Wenwei Zhang. They’ll perform selections from Aida, Don Carlo, The Force of Destiny and others.

That’s the bad news. Here’s all the good news:


Debut of Fabio Luisi as Dallas Symphony Music Director in September 2020

Concerts Carefully Curated Artistically to Reflect Dallas Symphony’s Commitment to Return Safely to the Stage with Small Orchestra and Chamber Ensembles and New Audience Protocols

Six Black Composers Included in Revised Programming and November 11 Concert Added, in Partnership with Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Project Unity, to Honor Lives Lost to Racial Violence and Injustice

Robotic Cameras and Video Control Room Installed in the Meyerson; Concerts to Be Captured and Offered on Demand; Available for Those Who Cannot Attend

Dallas, TX (July 31, 2020) – The Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and Music Director Fabio Luisi (Louise W. & Edmund J. Kahn Music Directorship) today announce NEXT STAGE, revised programming for Fall 2020 Texas Instruments Classical Series, Pops Series and Dallas Symphony Presents concerts. With the safety of DSO musicians and audiences foremost in planning and in response to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the programs will be performed with no intermission, will be composed of smaller, socially-distanced orchestral ensembles and will allow an audience of only 50-75 guests.

“After the shutdown in March, we were able to make music in unique ways and for many people across the Metroplex. These included more than 40 outdoor chamber music concerts, four programs in the Meyerson that were recorded and posted on our website, and, in partnership with DSO musicians, creation of original musical content from their homes,” said Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony. “There is no substitute for performances on our stage at the Meyerson with an audience. We look forward to safely welcoming small audiences back this fall, and though attending concerts will be different than in previous seasons, our musicians will continue to inspire you.”

Building on procedures that began this summer, DSO musicians will volunteer for the concerts and will receive COVID-19 testing prior to playing. Strict distancing will be enforced in backstage areas, and additional cleaning will be part of musician common areas.

“We tested these protocols in June, and I felt safe and confident playing with my colleagues,” said Angela Fuller Heyde, Principal Second Violin (Barbara K. & Seymour R. Thum Chair). “We are so grateful that our health and safety are being taken so seriously and that every possible precaution is being taken. I can’t wait to be back on stage at the Meyerson!”

Tickets for Fall DSO concerts will be available first to subscribers. Concerts with demand that exceeds capped capacity may include on a case-by-case basis open dress rehearsals or additional performances added.

Subscribers will receive an added benefit beginning this season. Installation of a new robotic camera system and video studio at the Meyerson Symphony Center will allow the DSO to capture concerts for on-demand viewing or live streaming. Subscribers will have access to this collection of performances free of charge. Non-subscribers will be able to view for a fee. More details on the program will be available later this summer.

Music Director Fabio Luisi will lead the DSO in three programs this fall. Yefim Bronfman will join Luisi and the DSO for the music of Beethoven in concerts on September 10-13. Mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford and tenor Stuart Skelton will be the soloists in a unique chamber version of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth) in programs October 9-11. Luisi’s third program of the fall will be a celebration of the operas of Giuseppe Verdi. Soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, tenor Piero Pretti and bass Wenwei Zhang will perform selections from Aida, Don Carlo, The Force of Destiny and others. Luisi is renowned for his interpretation of the music of Verdi. This new Verdi program replaces the originally programmed Requiem by Verdi which will be postponed to a time when a large gathering of chorus singers is possible.

“Plans and programs may change, but our commitment to music and performing for our audience is unwavering. I am very excited to come back to Dallas and share music in the Meyerson. Sadly, we will not be able to perform Verdi’s Requiem at this time, but we will certainly prioritize programming this for a future season,” said Luisi.

Principal Guest Conductor Gemma New (Dolores G. & Lawrence S. Barzune, M.D. Chair) will begin her second season with performances of George Walker’s Lyric for Strings and Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, “Prague”. Principal Harp Emily Levin (Elsa von Seggern Chair) will be the soloist in Ginastera’s kaleidoscopic Harp Concerto.

Additional fall concerts in the Texas Instruments Classical Series bring a variety of excitement and perspectives. Trombonist Jörgen Van Rijen will return to Dallas for the US premiere of Bryce Dessner’s Trombone Concerto (October 1-4). Finnish conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov will bring the music of Beethoven to the Meyerson in concerts October 22-25. As part of the Women in Classical Music Symposium week, conductor Marin Alsop and violinist Hilary Hahn will join forces for a program of music by Mozart, Prokofiev, Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg and American composer Jessie Montgomery (November 5-8). The Dallas Symphony is also co-commissioning a new work by Montgomery to receive its world premiere in Spring 2022. Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in a shortened version will round out the fall programming with performances on November 27-29 conducted by Andrew Grams.

Assistant Conductor Katharina Wincor (Marena & Roger Gault Chair) will return to lead an educational concert program which will be filmed and recorded to be made available to North Texas students. Alumni Soloists of the Sphinx Program as well as other guest artists will join Wincor for this project in November.

Dallas Symphony Pops patrons will enjoy music led by Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik (Dot & Paul Mason Podium) as well as special guests. Tyzik and frequent guest Byron Stripling will perform a program celebrating Jazz and Ragtime, with music by Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton and Gershwin. Tony Award-winner Kelli O’Hara, known for her beautiful starring roles in The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific and The King and I, will make her debut at the Meyerson in October. Soulful tunes and legendary vocals will be on the program for Queens of Soul, a look at the songs made famous by Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle and more. In addition, Guest Conductor Sarah Hicks will lead the brass and percussion of the DSO in a range of music spotlighting the excitement of those sections. Resident Organist Bradley Hunter Welch (Lay Family Chair) will join the performance from the Lay Family Concert Organ.

Some originally scheduled Pops Series and movie programming has been moved to later dates.
Toy Story Live in Concert has moved to September 2021, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has moved to November 2021. “The Music of Selena” has now been rescheduled to June 2021, and “Lush Life: The Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn” has been postponed to March 2021. Both of those programs on the Pops Series will feature Jeff Tyzik conducting.

This summer, the DSO announced a new program for November 11. This concert, in partnership with Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Project Unity, will honor lives lost to racial violence and injustice. Baritone Reginald Smith, Jr. will join the DSO and DBDT, and musicians from the Young Strings Program will perform in this concert. The program will include a newly commissioned work by Dallas-based Quinn Mason.

Throughout the Fall programming, the orchestra will feature works by Black composers including Adolphus Hailstork, Scott Joplin, Quinn Mason, Jessie Montgomery, Jelly Roll Morton and George Walker. This is a first step in diversifying the selection of works being performed and providing opportunities for composers of color. “We have much work to do in the area of equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Noltemy, “but it is a priority for the DSO, and very soon we will share our comprehensive plan to ensure that the DSO takes a leadership role in this important work.”

Much planning and preparation has been done this summer to address the health concerns related to concert attendance during COVID-19 spread in the community. Working with colleagues in the Dallas Arts District as well as with the consultation of a medical doctor who is a specialist in infectious diseases, the DSO has implemented health standards and protocols for concert-going.

“My husband and I have been sheltering at home, and I had no intention of going further than daily walks,” said Cece Smith, Dallas Symphony Association Board of Governors incoming Chair. “Then I heard the comments from the musicians and other audience members about how safe they felt in the hall during the concerts performed in June, and we were convinced. The concert experience was handled beautifully, from the designated arrival time, to the parking, to the staggered entries and departures. The audience was seated substantially away from each other and, of course, wearing masks and staying distant from others. It was so well done, and the live music was such a welcome treat, that we went to two more concerts! It is probably the safest place in Dallas.”

Patrons who return to the Meyerson can expect the following safety and health procedures:

• Concerts will be approximately one hour in length and have no intermissions.
• We will ask all attendees to wear masks unless there is a health issue that prevents this.
• We will have voluntary temperature checks available as attendees arrive at the Meyerson.
• We will ask patrons to arrive at a specific time and enter through a specific door and use a designated restroom to ensure no proximity to other patrons.
• We will have contactless ticketing to minimize close interactions.
• We will ensure that audience members are not seated near other attendees.
• We will stagger departures of attendees.
• We will not have food and beverage service in September and October, but have complimentary drink vouchers for nearby restaurants.
• Patrons are permitted to bring water into the concert hall.
• There will be hand sanitizers throughout the building available for use.
• We have installed HEPA filters in the Meyerson and have an ongoing deep cleaning process between concerts.
• Valet parking will only be available for those who have disabilities.

The COVID-19 situation is fluid, and the DSO will continue to follow current governmental guidelines and safety recommendations.

Since the pandemic shutdown in March 2020, the DSO pivoted quickly to provide music and service to the Dallas community. DSO musicians began an outdoor chamber music series performing in neighborhoods all across Dallas. Recognizing a need for music in healing and happiness, DSO musicians took requests for “special deliveries” of music to individual homes (performing outdoors). These performances brought joy for 100th birthdays, special anniversaries and to comfort those who were unable to leave their homes for health reasons. Building on work that began before the pandemic, the DSO worked with area hospitals to share videos and “one to one” performances via Zoom with patients. The DSO currently has a presence in all hospital systems in Dallas as well as most major assisted living facilities. Once music lessons for Young Musicians was moved online, the education team realized a need for more than instruction. The DSO has launched a food drive with board, musicians and staff and delivers groceries to food-insecure families which will continue until their local school is able to fulfill that need.

“Through this difficult time, music and community stays at the center of our mission,” said Noltemy. “It is our commitment and mission to perform live orchestral music to Dallas and to share the inspiration and life-changing programs that the DSO is known for, both in person and online. We thank our supporters, subscribers and the community for their continued support as we move to this NEXT STAGE.”


September 4 -6, 2020
BRASS, ORGAN & PERCUSSION of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra
SARAH HICKS conducts
J. S. SMITH The Star-Spangled Banner (arr. Mueller, adapted V. Allen)
A. HAILSTORK American Fanfare
COPLAND Fanfare for the Common Man
GIGOUT Grand Choeur et Dialogue for Organ & Brass
MICHAEL KAMEN Dectet for Brass
IVES Variations on America for solo organ
HANDEL “La Rejouissance” & Minuet/Trio from Music for the Royal Fireworks (arr. Rickards)
MUSSORGSKY “The Hut on Fowl’s Legs (Baba Yaga)” & “Great Gate of Kiev”,
from Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Michael Allen)
J.P. SOUSA Washington Post March
J. P. SOUSA The Stars and Stripes Forever (arr. Michael Allen)

September 10-13, 2020
Texas Instruments Classical Series
FABIO LUISI conducts
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 2
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 8

September 18-20, 2020
Pops Series
JEFF TYZIK conducts
RAGTIME & JAZZ including music by Scott Joplin, Gershwin and Jelly Roll Morton arrangements.

September 24-27, 2020
Texas Instruments Classical Series
GEMMA NEW conducts
GEORGE WALKER Lyric for Strings
GINASTERA Harp Concerto
MOZART Symphony No. 38 “Prague”

October 1-4, 2020
Texas Instruments Classical Series
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1
BRYCE DESSNER Trombone Concerto (US Premiere)
KODÁLY Dances of Galanta

October 9-11, 2020
Texas Instruments Classical Series
FABIO LUISI conducts
TAMARA MUMFORD mezzo-soprano
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth)
Chamber Ensemble Version by Schönberg/Riehn

October 16-18, 2020
Pops Series
ROB FISHER conducts
KELLI O’HARA vocalist

October 22-25, 2020
Texas Instruments Classical Series
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4

October 29-November 1, 2020
Texas Instruments Classical Series
FABIO LUISI conducts
JAMIE BARTON mezzo-soprano
VERDI Arias, Duets & Overtures from Aida, Don Carlo, The Force of Destiny and others

October 31, 2020

November 5- 8, 2020
Texas Instruments Classical Series
MARIN ALSOP conducts
MAGNUS LINDBERG Absence (Abwesenheit – L’Absence) (US Premiere)
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 5
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 1 in D Major, “Classical”

November 11, 2020
REGINALD SMITH, JR., baritone; and further vocal soloists to be confirmed
Dancers from Dallas Black Dance Theatre
Musicians of the DSO Young Strings Program

November 12, 2020
Dallas Symphony Presents
JEFF TYZIK conducts

November 13-15, 2020
Pops Series
JEFF TYZIK conducts

November 27- 29, 2020
Dallas Symphony Presents
TCHAIKOVSKY The Nutcracker