• Mary Ann

Nashville Symphony Announces Return, Unveils 75th Anniversary Season

After devastating shutdown and 18-month pause, orchestra to resume regular performances at the Schermerhorn

Highlights include Beethoven’s First and Ninth, Firebird with the Nashville Ballet and two recording projects; guest artists include Leslie Odom, Jr., Police drummer Stewart Copeland and Ben Folds

SCHERMERHORN SYMPHONY CENTER

As it emerges from one of the most challenging periods in its history, the Nashville Symphony is thrilled to announce its 2021/22 season, featuring a full slate of more than 100 classical, pops, jazz and family concerts with the GRAMMY®-winning orchestra, as well as appearances by top-flight guest artists, film favorites with live orchestra, and more.  

The 2021/22 season also marks the Nashville Symphony’s 75th Anniversary, making the coming year even more momentous for the orchestra, which has been in a state of dramatically reduced activity since suspending all concerts in March 2020.

“Throughout its history, the Nashville Symphony has experienced its share of triumphs and challenges,” said President & CEO Alan Valentine. “But none of us could have imagined the year that we have all just experienced. As we reemerge together from the pandemic, the Nashville Symphony looks forward to helping our community heal and celebrating our orchestra’s rich history of resilience, artistic vibrancy and community service. We are beyond excited as we prepare to welcome audiences back to the Schermerhorn safely, and we are looking to the future with great anticipation as we devote ourselves to becoming an even more community-focused organization."

The new season kicks off on Sept. 16-18, 2021, with Fanfare for Music City, a program opening with Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, two works that will celebrate the essential workers who have played critical roles throughout the pandemic.

Recognizing the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic, the Nashville Symphony has planned to start its season with social distancing onstage and in the concert hall, with plans for reaching full capacity by January 2022. The organization will continue to assess changing conditions and may open up audience capacity sooner, based on guidance provided by its health and safety partner, HCA Healthcare/TriStar Health.

Curated and led by Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero, the Nashville Symphony’s Amazon Classical Series will open with chamber orchestra performances in the fall, leading up to the moment when the full orchestra is reunited onstage in January for performances of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 and Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony. The orchestra will continue its ongoing commitment to promoting and recording the work of contemporary American composers, including Brad Warnaar and Nashville’s own C.F. Kip Winger.

Closing out the 75th Anniversary season will be a performance Beethoven’s Ninth with the Nashville Symphony Chorus. The performance will also include a newly commissioned work by Nashville Symphony violist Christopher Farrell, as well as works by Augusta Read Thomas and Nashville Symphony Composer Lab fellow Brian Raphael Nabors.

“For the past year I have been lucky enough to make music with several orchestras in Europe, so I have become an expert at working with the smaller, distanced orchestra,” Guerrero said. “Working with a smaller orchestra allows for a unique intimacy that would normally be harder to achieve with our full orchestra. The smaller ensembles allow more possibility of interaction, more of a chamber ensemble atmosphere, giving us the chance to connect in a very gratifying way.

“While I am so looking forward to having all of the musicians back onstage by the end of the season, the reduced orchestra size this fall will allow us to dive into repertoire that we have never performed before. This season, the orchestra and I will get to flex some new creative muscles. Even as we relearn what normal is, there is an opportunity to be more than what we were. We can learn from these challenges and get to something better than normal. The bumps along the road can become tools to finding better ways to serve our musicians and our community.”

Led by Principal Pops Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez, the FirstBank Pops Series includes appearances by Leslie Odom, Jr., Stewart Copeland of The Police and Ben Folds, all performing with the Nashville Symphony. The Jazz Series welcomes Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, plus a first-ever Schermerhorn appearance by Pat Metheny. And following the successful debut of the Symphony’s Movie Series in 2019/20, season ticket packages will again be available for film screenings with the orchestra, with titles including The Muppet Christmas Carol, Toy Story, Back to the Future and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.  

Other highlights of the forthcoming season include a special performance of Copland’s Billy the Kid and Stravinsky’s The Firebird with the Nashville Ballet; Latin Fire, a Latin-themed program led by Lopez-Yañez and featuring trumpeter José Sibaja and soprano Mónica Abrego; a one-night appearance by Ballet Folklórico de México; Kool & the Gang making their first Nashville appearance in a decade; and the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Orchestra World Tour returning to Nashville.

For a full listing of the Nashville Symphony’s 2021/22 lineup, visit  NashvilleSymphony.org/2021-22. 

Customers purchasing season ticket packages can access all Nashville Symphony 2021/22 concerts listed below. Tickets to individual concerts go on sale July 30, 2021. 

Amazon Classical Series

The 2021/22 Amazon Classical Series consists of 14 concert weekends that showcase the orchestra performing a wide array of orchestra repertoire, which this year will include smaller chamber orchestra works along with beloved repertoire. As in past seasons, the orchestra will highlight the music of contemporary American composers in an ongoing effort to reflect and represent the diversity and vibrancy of our community and our nation. 

In an effort to celebrate the musicians who have built the orchestra, Guerrero will spotlight several Nashville Symphony players as soloists, including Concertmaster Jun Iwasaki, cellist Kevin Bate, flutist Érik Gratton and harpist Licia Jaskunas. Another soloist highlight will be two alumni from the Nashville Symphony's Accelerando education initiative: flutist Aalia Hanif, currently a student at the Northwestern Bienen School of Music, and trombonist Bernard Ekwuazi, currently a student at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. The Symphony will also continue its GRAMMY®-winning partnership with the Naxos label, with two recording projects: the world premiere of C.F. Kip Winger’s Symphony No. 1 and Brad Warnaar’s Cornet Concerto.

The full 2021/22 Amazon Classical Series is as follows:  

Opening Weekend: Fanfare for Music City, September 16-18, 2021 – Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman kick off the Nashville Symphony’s return to the stage, followed by Dvořák’s Serenade in D Minor for Winds and Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. This performance will also feature Strum by Leonard Bernstein Award-winner and Sphinx Organization composer-in-residence Jessie Montgomery.

Beethoven’s First, October 21-23, 2021 – The woodwind and brass sections will be featured on Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments, and the Nashville Symphony’s Organ Curator Andrew Risinger takes the stage for Poulenc’s Organ Concerto. The performance closes with Beethoven’s First, as the orchestra continues to belatedly celebrate the composer’s 250th birthday.

Next Generation of Classical Musicians, November 4-6, 2021 – Accelerando program alumna Aalia Hanif, flute, joins the orchestra as soloist on Borne’s Fantaisie brillante, followed by another Accelerando alumnus, Bernard Ekwuazi, trombone, on Larsson’s Concertino for Trombone and String Orchestra. Originally commissioned by Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony in 2010, Richard Strauss’ lyrical Ariadne auf Naxos Symphony-Suite, arranged by former Nashville Symphony Principal Librarian D. Wilson Ochoa, will close the program.

Strings on Parade with Jun Iwasaki, November 18-20, 2021 – Concertmaster Jun Iwasaki leads and performs in this performance featuring Philip Herbert’s Elegy: In Memoriam – Stephen Lawrence, which memorializes Stephen Lawrence, a Black British teenager murdered in 1993 by a gang of young white men. The work is composed for 18 string players, each representing one year of Lawrence’s life. This performance also includes Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires and Dvořák’s Serenade in E Major for Strings.

Dvořák & Mozart, January 7-9, 2022 – In the first concert that sees the full orchestra reunited onstage, this performance will open with Suppé’s Poet and Peasant: Overture, followed by Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 featuring up-and-coming soloist George Li and closing with Dvořák’s genial Symphony No. 8. Lawrence S. Levine Memorial Concert

Tchaikovsky's ‘Pathétique’, January 20-22, 2022 – Tchaikovsky’s brooding Sixth Symphony mirrors the composer’s own personal torment, while Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp will feature Nashville Symphony Principal Flute Érik Gratton and Principal Harp Licia Jaskunas. Opening the performance will be Florence Price’s Dances in the Canebrakes, a short orchestral suite composed just months before the composer’s unexpected death.

Brahms, Birds & ‘blue cathedral’, February 11 & 12, 2022 – Concertmaster Jun Iwasaki and Principal Cellist Kevin Bate perform Brahms’ Concerto for Violin and Cello, the first orchestral concerto to feature violin and cello together. Jennifer Higdon’s blue cathedral, her most performed work, places a special emphasis on Higdon’s own instrument, the flute, and was written as a commission to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Curtis Institute of Music. Also included are Sibelius’ The Swan of Tuonela and Ravel’s Mother Goose: Suite.

Joyce Yang Plays Grieg, February 24-26, 2022 - Pianist Joyce Yang returns as the featured soloist on Grieg’s Piano Concerto. The performance opens with one of the most popular works in orchestral literature, Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. Closing the program will be Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, arguably the most popular of the composer’s 15.

An Evening of Firsts, March 17-19, 2022 – The only live recording event of the season features Brad Warnaar’s Cornet Concerto, featuring José Sibaja on cornet, and C.F. Kip Winger’s Symphony No. 1, both of which will be included on forthcoming releases on Naxos. John Adams’ The Chairman Dances: Foxtrot for Orchestra and Barber’s Symphony No. 1 complete the all-American evening.

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Debussy’s La Mer, April 8-10, 2022 – Thomas Wilkins, music director of the Omaha Symphony and principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, comes to Nashville as a guest conductor for the weekend. Highlighting the performance will be Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto featuring acclaimed soloist Adele Anthony and Debussy’s impressionistic La mer. Also included are Coleridge-Taylor’s Hiawatha: Suite from the Ballet and Holst’s Hammersmith.

Guerrero Conducts Messiah, April 14-16, 2022 – The Nashville Symphony Chorus returns for their first Classical Series performance in two years for this springtime performance of Handel’s Messiah, presented here as an Easter Oratorio, as it was during the composer’s own lifetime.

Tchaikovsky, Ravel & Sibelius, May 6 & 7, 2022 – Assistant Conductor Nathan Aspinall makes his Classical Series debut to conduct Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest, a tone poem based on the Shakespeare work. GRAMMY®-nominated pianist Terrence Wilson returns to Nashville to perform Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 rounds out the weekend.

Ballet Extravaganza, May 19-22, 2022 – The Nashville Ballet returns to Schermerhorn Symphony Center for a full performance of Stravinsky’s ultimate Russian fairytale, The Firebird, and Copland’s evocation of the notorious bandit on the American open prairie in Billy the Kid.

Beethoven’s Ninth, June 2-5, 2022 – Marking the 75th Anniversary celebration of the Nashville Symphony, the season will close with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, featuring the Nashville Symphony Chorus. This performance opens with a new work by Nashville Symphony violist Christopher Farrell, a special 75th Anniversary commission, along with Brio by Augusta Read Thomas and Pulse by Composer Lab fellow Brian Raphael Nabors.

FirstBank Pops Series

This eight-weekend series features big-name guest artists and dynamic themed programs, all accompanied by the orchestra.

“I am, first and foremost, excited to be back on stage with our world-class musicians,” said Principal Pops Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez. “We have all deeply missed being able to make live music together for our incredibly supportive audience. The FirstBank Pops Series offers a diverse selection of genres, guest artists and themes to give every audience member a chance to hear music they love and some new gems to discover. In celebration of our 75th Anniversary, we’re featuring so many spectacular guest artists, all of whom are true musical innovators. What a pleasure it is to collaborate with these talents and our fabulous orchestra. I know our audience is in for quite a treat!”

The 2021/22 FirstBank Pops Series:

Music City Christmas, December 9, 10, 12 & 16-18, 2021 – Lopez-Yañez hosts this one-of-a-kind holiday symphonic spectacular featuring dancers, Broadway singers and some very special guests, including Jolly Old Saint Nick himself. 

Revolution: The Music of the Beatles. A Symphonic Experience, January 13-15, 2022 – The Beatles come to life in this new authorized symphonic tribute featuring orchestral arrangements of more than 25 Fab Four hits, accompanied by stunning video, animation and hundreds of rare and unseen photos. 

Disco Fever: Get Down Tonight, February 3-5, 2022 – Celebrating the unforgettable era of songs you love to love with orchestrations written by Lopez-Yanez.

Pops Spectacular: Orchestral Greatest Hits, March 3-6, 2022 – This powerhouse program features Guerrero leading the Nashville Symphony in a selection of orchestral favorites, including Ravel’s Boléro, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Strauss’ The Blue Danube and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.  

Stewart Copeland: Police Deranged, March 24-26, 2022 – It’s a high-energy orchestral celebration of The Police’s biggest hits, including “Roxanne,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” “Message in a Bottle” and many more, with Copeland on drums, three singers and a guitarist joining the orchestra.  

Nat King Cole at 100, April 28-30, 2022 – A celebration of Nat King Cole's legacy featuring the orchestra, a full band and a parade of special guests led by Patti Austin and Terri Lyne Carrington.

Leslie Odom, Jr. with the Nashville Symphony, May 26-28, 2022 – The GRAMMY® and Tony-Award winning star of Hamilton makes his Schermerhorn debut with an evening of jazz, standards and Broadway favorites.   Ben Folds, June 30-July 2, 2022 – It’s the long-awaited return of one of Music City’s most beloved artists, as Ben Folds showcases his impeccable musicianship and unparalleled knack for pop songcraft alongside the Nashville Symphony. 

Movies Series

Movie lovers can experience their favorite films as never before, with the Nashville Symphony providing live accompaniment to beloved movies screened in HD above the stage: 

The Muppet Christmas Carol in Concert, December 3-5, 2021

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens in Concert, April 1-3, 2022

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince™ in Concert, May 12-15, 2022

Back to the Future in Concert, June 17-19, 2022

Toy Story in Concert, July 8-10, 2022

WIZARDING WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s21)

Jazz Series

The Nashville Symphony is one of Music City’s leading presenters of jazz, and this series offers the chance to hear world-class artists in a sparkling acoustical setting:  

Pat Metheny Side-Eye w/ James Francies & Joe Dyson, February 7, 2022 – 10-time GRAMMY®-winner Pat Metheny makes his first-ever Schermerhorn appearance.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, March 22, 2022 – Trumpeter Marsalis brings his award-winning ensemble back to the Schermerhorn.

Prohibition with the Nashville Symphony, May 25, 2022 – This concert celebrates the Roaring ’20s with singers, dancers, vintage photos and video, all accompanied by the orchestra. Classics include “Mack the Knife,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and more.  

The Ann & Monroe Carell Family Trust Family Series

Created for children ages 10 and under, Family Series concerts offer a relaxed, sensory-friendly atmosphere for all patrons. Each themed concert is preceded by family-friendly activities, including the Symphony’s Instrument Petting Zoo. 

Symphony in Space!, January 15, 2022 – Blast off with Cadet Enrico and the Nashville Symphony’s Sonic Spaceship on a mission to save the galaxy! Set a course for adventure with selections from The Planets, The Firebird and more out-of-this-world music.

Carnival of the Animals, February 5, 2022 – Take an imaginative journey through the animal kingdom in this zoological musical, featuring a fully orchestrated setting of Saint-Saëns’ classic score, along with engaging songs like “Talk to the Animals” and “Kokowanda Bay.”

When Instruments Roamed the Earth, March 26, 2022 – In prehistoric times, strange creatures walked the planet. These were the ancient ancestors of musical instruments that inspired melodious makers in brass and wood to create the instruments we see in the orchestra today. Join Sir Humphrey Treble-Clef on a journey into the times When Instruments Roamed the Earth®! Gold Rush: An American Musical Adventure, April 30, 2022 – Race across America with Rico the Roughrider and stake a claim for gold in the Wild West! Outwit outlaws and befriend buffalo as you discover the sounds of American music by Copland, Sousa, Grofé, Elmer Bernstein and more.

Blakeford Matinee Series 

Featuring concerts on Sunday afternoons, including selections from the Nashville Symphony’s Classical and Pops Series.

Music City Christmas, December 12, 2021 Dvořák & Mozart, January 9, 2022

Pops Spectacular: Orchestral Greatest Hits, March 6, 2022

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Debussy’s La Mer, April 10, 2022

Beethoven’s Ninth, June 5, 2022

Additional Concerts

All concerts listed below are with the Nashville Symphony, except where noted. More concerts will be announced in the coming months. 

Latin Fire, September 30, October 1 & 3. Ballet Folklórico de México, January 23, 2022 (presented without orchestra) FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Orchestra World Tour with the Nashville Symphony, January 28, 2022 Kool & the Gang, March 13, 2022 (presented without orchestra) Voices of Spring, March 20, 2022 (presented without orchestra) Tower of Power, April 22, 2022 (presented without orchestra) Little River Band, August 26, 2022 (presented without orchestra)

Season ticket packages are now available for all 2021/22 concerts and may be purchased at NashvilleSymphony.org/seasontickets, by phone at 615.687.6400. Season ticket holders enjoy a long list of benefits, including priority seating, free unlimited ticket exchanges much more.  

The GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony has earned an international reputation for its innovative programming and its commitment to performing, recording and commissioning works by America’s leading composers. With more than 140 performances annually, the orchestra offers a broad range of classical, pops and jazz, and children’s concerts, while its extensive education and community engagement programs reached 45,000 children and adults during the 2019/20 season. The Nashville Symphony has released 35 internationally distributed recordings on Naxos, which have received 26 GRAMMY® nominations and 14 GRAMMY® Awards, making it one of the most active recording orchestras in the country. The orchestra has also released recordings on Decca, Deutsche Grammophon and New West Records.