The Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra's 50th anniversary season will open with a big star and close with a program that's out of this world.
"We will take opportunities to feature the entity that's been here," music director Scott Terrell said, citing the ensemble's golden anniversary, "and particularly the artistic growth that's been happening the past few years."
The season will open Sept. 30 with a gala concert featuring violin superstar Midori playing Beethoven's Violin Concerto.
Midori burst into the public consciousness in 1982 at age 11, when she performed Paganini's notoriously challenging Violin Concerto with the New York Philharmonic. Since then, she has gone on to a marquee career as a soloist and also made a name for herself as a music educator.
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The philharmonic usually finishes its season in April, but in 2012, the final concert will be in May and feature a program commissioned by the Houston Symphony that pairs a performance of Gustav Holst's The Planets with a high-definition film timed to the music.
"The piece was written when all they had were tiny telescopes," Terrell said of the early 20th-century work. "But the music is so cinematic. ... It's film and orchestra now moving up to a higher place."
Other highlights within the season include the first commission under the philharmonic's new Saykaly Garbulinska Composer-in-Residence partnership with the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington: a world premiere by Daniel Kellogg on the February program.
The hot trio Time for Three will highlight an American-themed concert in March, and the Baroque concert in April will feature guest conductor Kelly Kuo, guest violinist David Halen performing Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Lexington native and Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist Nathan Cole joining him on J.S. Bach's Concerto for Two Violins.
Season-ticket subscribers will be able to choose one of two holiday concerts: Handel's Messiah, which will again be presented at the Cathedral of Christ the King on two nights, or the "Candy Cane Takes a Global Sleigh Ride" event, a sort of mash-up of the annual Candy Cane Family Concert and last year's pops-oriented "Home for the Holidays" show.
The 2011-12 season will also feature the philharmonic's return to the Lexington Opera House, a venue it has not played regularly since the late 1990s. The orchestra will present a movie-themed show there in January and education events in October. Dates for those performances have not been determined.