Season Preview

Lansing State Journal Lansing, MI May 17, 2014

Lansing Symphony Orchestra's 85th season offers bit of romance

Entering its 85th season, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra may be at the pinnacle of its long history. Under the musical leadership of Timothy Muffitt for eight years, the orchestra has grown in size, quality, budget and audience.

And with a stage full of 75 paid professional musicians and a budget of about $1 million, the LSO is by far the largest arts organization in the Lansing area.

Muffitt guest conducted the Atlanta Symphony last season. “It’s not that much difference than the Lansing Symphony. Both have professional musicians who love to play. Lansing has a very high level of artistry, and the orchestra is very consistent — we have the same musicians each and every concert.”

The 85th season has been announced, but, as usual, the season that kicks off in September is far more than the six MasterWorks classical series. The orchestra also has a top-notch Jazz Band conducted by Ron Newman, and a Chamber Series under the artistic leadership of flutist Richard Sherman — plus a family series and pops concerts.

One of Muffitt’s goals in preparing the season each year is to program music that Lansing audiences haven’t heard for a while. This year, it has a heavy slant toward bedrock romantic music — Tchaikovsky’s (a cello piece and a symphony), Bruch, Beethoven, Elgar, Mendelssohn, Chopin Schubert and Mozart.

Almost as an apology, Muffitt says, “That’s not how I planned it but that’s where we ended up. Very core romantic pieces.

“The music we have this year doesn’t need bells and whistles to make it speak, it has an inherent and internal glow.”

As in the past, Muffitt has a wonderful menu of young, exciting artists — Yevgeny Kutik, violinist; Colton Peltier, piano; Bion Tsang, cello and the orchestra’s own Richard Sherman, flute, performing a new work by local composer Marjan Helms.

For the fourth concert of the season, Muffitt features young cellist Bion Tsang. The Los Angeles Times says, “Simply put, Tsang is an artist who guarantees the future of our music. His playing is inspiring to hear and to watch.”

The concert is one of Muffitt’s favorites. “I love the connection of Haydn, who was considered avant-garde and an innovator, but now is known at the father of the symphony and the quintessential classicist. He was one of Beethoven’s teachers.”

Talking about innovation, Muffitt paired the Haydn with the Beethoven Pastoral (#6) symphony that was “a ground breaking full length programmatic piece.” And completing the evening will be the beloved Tchaikovsky “Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra.”

By Ken Glickman

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