Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra music director Scott Terrell got just the sort of reaction he was hoping for from the concert that closed last season, his fifth in the post.
The concert featured Ludwig Van Beethoven's iconic Symphony No. 9, the one with the Ode to Joy in the final movement, paired with Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov's Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra. Terrell knew people came for the Beethoven, but "more people were struck by the beauty of the Golijov song cycle, because they were unaware of it," the conductor says.
"So the general reaction I heard from people was, 'I'm looking forward to hearing his opera.'"
Indeed, Golijov's Ainadamar - Fountain of Tears is programmed for April in the season that begins Saturday night at the Singletary Center for the Arts.
By almost any orchestral measure, it is a season of high adventure and change, the 2015 opera presentation probably being the pinnacle of the innovation. But there are plenty of surprises for regular orchestra-goers before that.
The Philharmonic is opening its season with a concert featuring Gershwin, Ravel and previous Lexington visitor Inon Barnatan as the soloist on Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto.
"Opening night should always be about kicking off the season, celebratory, something that people are going to enjoy," Terrell says. "The music should be to a certain degree known or uplifting or certainly having people walking out on a high."
The program is built around pianists, and in Barnatan, Terrell says regular Lexington visitors will notice that the last four years have served the soloist, now the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's artist-in-association, very well.
"He has had a much busier concert season since he was last here, and now he is affiliated with the New York Philharmonic in an official capacity for the next three seasons," Terrell says. "I think he's a really special pianist, and he's one of the great pianists going right now.
"He's a very natural musician and collaborator, and he makes things very easy for people around here."
If Barnatan has grown in the last several years, so has the orchestra, Terrell says, which is why he has loaded up the coming season with items like the Philharmonic's first performance of music by Philip Glass with Icarus at the Edge of Time with Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker narrating in an October two-night stand at the Lexington Opera House and Chinese composer Tan Dun's Crouching Tiger Concerto for cello and orchestra, featuring Philharmonic principal cellist Benjamin Karp, in February. That concert will also be guest conducted by former Central Kentuckian Kayoko Dan.
"We've grown a lot, and the orchestra is playing at a consistently high level," Terrell says, adding that and positive community reception allow him to diversify the orchestra's programming. "To be a great orchestra, you have to traverse a diverse repertoire and do that with great skill and understanding and with ease. We've made a lot of progress there."
At the same time, Terrell's own career is diversifying. While he is preparing music for the Philharmonic, Terrell is also looking at upcoming engagements with the Arizona Opera, where he will be conducting performances of W.A. Mozart's The Magic Flute; engagements with the Colorado Symphony in February and March and work with the Philadelphia Orchestra,
"It's good for me to do outside projects with big organizations," Terrell says, "It keeps me out there in the world, and Lexington benefits from bringing in artists and building relationships with soloists and getting our name, the Philharmonic, out into a broader world."