Teddy Abrams Leads Oregon’s Britt Festival Orchestra Season (June 17–July 3), Featuring New Commission from Sebastian Chang & Star-Spangled Guest Artists
Published: February 10, 2022
The Britt Festival Orchestra (BFO) announces its 2022 60th Anniversary summer season, anchoring Oregon’s Britt Music and Arts Festival with three weeks of exhilarating open-air programming in historic Jacksonville, Oregon. Under the inspirational leadership of Music Director Teddy Abrams, the 2022 season opens with a newly commissioned piece dedicated to the 60th Anniversary of the Britt Festival Orchestra, composed and performed by pianist Sebastian Chang. During this Diamond Anniversary, programs include a diverse selection of composers and guest artists, with special focus on Black composers during the Juneteenth concert. Including Sebastian Chang, four outstanding soloists will perform throughout the season. The final concert steps it up a notch, featuring the 10-person ensemble People of Earth performing the West Coast premiere of a piece commissioned by Britt. This season’s Family Show will be offered as a morning concert, presenting the return of popular narrator Bruce Campbell. The 2022 Britt Orchestra Season runs from June 17 to July 3.
Music Director Teddy Abrams’ creative vision sets Britt’s programming apart. “We spent months dreaming up a celebratory and dynamic season to mark the return of the full Britt Festival Orchestra to our beloved Rogue Valley,” says Abrams. “The 2022 season is a demonstration of our deepest artistic values: showcasing the greatest creative talents of today alongside the most powerful orchestral music of the past. I’m thrilled about the two concerts we are devoting to exploring social justice and equity in America through the lens of soloists like Davóne Tines and Seth Parker Woods, and composers like Julius Eastman and Tyshawn Sorey. I’m equally excited about the brilliant composer Sebastian Chang’s new Piano Concerto that he’ll premiere and perform with us on our opening night. The season is full of unique, energetic, and engaged projects, like Dafnis Prieto’s new concerto for the Cuban timba band People of Earth and orchestra (also a Britt commission!) and concerts featuring super-talents like Gabriel Kahane (as our special composer-conductor fellow) and violinist Tessa Lark. Between the breadth of programming and the virtuosity of our orchestra, our goal is to remind Southern Oregon of the gem that is the Britt Festival Orchestra, and to reaffirm the bonds that have made the relationship between BFO members and the community so strong for 60 years.”
60th Anniversary Dedication Commissioned piece
The Diamond Celebration begins June 17 with the West Coast premiere of a new piano concerto composed by Sebastian Chang, joining us in his duo role as composer and soloist. Chang’s concerto which he titled The Empress is commissioned by the Britt Music & Art Festival and is dedicated to the 60th Anniversary of the Britt Festival Orchestra.
Guest Artists and Program Highlights
This season the BFO presents a broad range of guest artists, making up a diverse group of musicians from the opening night’s pianist, Sebastian Chang, to closing night’s 10-person supergroup, People of Earth. The opening night concert will also feature Timo Andres’ work Everything Happens So Much and will finish with the heroic sounds of Beethoven’s Third Symphony. The earlier season provides a welcome opportunity to honor the Juneteenth holiday by celebrating Black musicians and composers in the orchestral world. The Juneteenth concert features recipient of the 2022 Chamber Music America Michael Jaffee Visionary Award, cellist Seth Parker Woods, performing several works by Black composers. The first half of the concert features composers Valerie Coleman, Tyshawn Sorey, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and Adolphus Hailstork, and ends with the hypnotic minimalist Julius Eastman’s work, Femenine.
The second week of the series brings the charismatic, deep bass-baritone of Davóne Tines, who will be featured in a performance of his own Concerto No. 1 “Sermon”, which explores recitatives and arias in arrangements. The concert opens with a new arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner by Michael Schachter and ends with the compelling Symphony No. 10 by Dimitri Shostakovich. June 26th will offer an orchestral extravaganza, featuring music of Michael Tilson Thomas, William Grant Still, and Igor Stravinsky.
The final week begins with a morning concert: the ever-popular Family Show, narrated by actor Bruce Campbell, who was wildly popular in 2019 with the Southern Oregon version of Peter and the Wolf. This season’s Family Show features Nathaniel Stookey’s The Composer is Dead! back to back with a composition written for the BFO by its own principal bass player Dave Anderson, titled Celebration. The evening concerts during the final week of the season continue to highlight guest artists, including critically acclaimed violinist Tessa Lark, a 2020 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist, performing Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade after Plato’s “Symposium”. This work will be preceded by up-and-coming composer Gabriel Kahane’s Nocturama, and will end with the celebratory Symphony No. 8, by Antonín Dvořák. New York City-based superband People of Earth closes the 60th Anniversary season Sunday, July 3 with an exciting explosion of sound during a Latin-themed night. People of Earth will be performing the West Coast premiere of a work commissioned by Britt, written by Dafnis Prieto, titled: Tentacion. Also, the 2022 Conducting Fellow, Gabriel Kahane, whose work was performed just two days before, will conduct Arturo Marquez’s Danzon No. 2. Music Director Teddy Abrams wraps up this fantastic season with George Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, ending with the classic favorite, Bolero by Maurice Ravel.
Tickets and Other Information
Tickets will go on sale beginning at 10:00 AM, Friday, February 11 on the Britt website: BrittFest.org. There will not be a Member pre-sale for the BFO concerts. Britt recommends making sure you are using the site BrittFest.org, as there are several websites that look official while charging higher prices and inflated fees. Tickets may also be purchased at the Britt Box office, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM weekdays at 216 W. Main St, Medford, Oregon, or by calling 541-773-6077.
From February 11 to March 1, Britt is offering a special limited-time offer: $5 Lawn Tickets to any of the BFO concerts. This was a very popular option in past seasons. Don’t pass up an opportunity to see the BFO for only $5.00 a show.
Following is standard pricing for all BFO concerts:
Premium Reserved: $49
Standard Reserved: $29
Lawn Seating: $20
Children & Students: $10 with valid Student ID
FAMILY SHOW (11AM Tuesday, June 28):
Reserved: $15 / Lawn Seating: $5 (BrittKids Klub Members get in FREE with paid adult admission. Up to 3 per adult with valid BKK card.)
All BFO evening concerts begin at 8:00 PM with gates opening at 6:00 PM (Early Entry at 5:45 PM). The Family Show begins at 11:00 AM with gates opening at 10:00 AM (no early entry).
Pre-concert talks will be held at 7:00 PM on the Sam & Hannelore Enfield Stage in the Performance Garden. Guest speakers will be announced at a later date.
Earlier Season This Year
Britt has announced a new change to the Britt Festival Orchestra Season this year. The season begins five weeks earlier than it has traditionally been held, with opening night on June 17. This change is being made in response to many successive years of wildfire smoke brought on by climate change. Following several moves to the North Medford High School auditorium and other locations, plus concert cancelations during several BFO seasons due to unhealthy wildfire smoke, the Britt Board of Directors and BFO have decided to move the orchestra season earlier in the summer, when wildfire smoke does not normally impact outdoor concerts. This move will ensure the safety of orchestra members, staff, patrons, and volunteers.
To stay informed about Britt Festival Orchestra events and everything else Britt, sign up for the monthly Britt Buzz newsletter at Brittfest.org. You can subscribe in the “Stay in the Loop” section at the bottom of every page.
June 17: Anniversary Spectacular
Featuring a World Premiere Special Commission.
Sebastian Chang, piano
Timo Andres – Everything Happens So Much
Sebastian Chang – Piano Concerto “The Empress”
West Coast Premiere: Commissioned in 2022 by Britt Music and Arts Festival. Dedicated to the 60th Anniversary of the Britt Festival Orchestra
Ludwig Van Beethoven – Symphony No. 3
June 19: Juneteenth Celebration
Featuring music by Black composers.
Seth Parker Woods, cello
Valerie Coleman – Umoja
Tyshawn Sorey – For Roscoe Mitchell
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson – Calvary Ostinato from Lamentations
Adolphus Hailstork – from Symphony No. 4, Still Holding On
Julius Eastman – Femenine
June 24: Truths Be Told
Davóne Tines, baritone
Star Spangled Banner, arr. Michael Schachter
Davóne Tines – Concerto No. 1 “Sermon”
Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 10
June 26: Orchestral Colors
A program showcasing the textures, colors and depth of the orchestra.
Michael Tilson Thomas – Shówa/Shoáh
William Grant Still – In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy
Igor Stravinsky – Symphony in Three Movements
June 28: Family Show – special morning program: 11:00 AM
Family Friendly 1-hour program
Bruce Campbell, narrator
Dave Anderson – “Celebration”
Nathaniel Stookey – The Composer is Dead!
July 1: American Soundscapes
Works using American folk and popular musical heritage for inspiration.
Tessa Lark, violin
Gabriel Kahane – Nocturama
Leonard Bernstein – Serenade after Plato’s “Symposium”
Antonín Dvořák – Symphony No. 8
July 3: Rhythms of the Barrio
Featuring a West Coast Premiere Special Commission.
People Of Earth
Tania Leon – Ser
Dafnis Prieto – Tentacion – commission/ West Coast Premiere
Arturo Márquez – Danzón No. 2 (conducted by conducting fellow, Gabriel Kahane)
George Gershwin – Cuban Overture
Maurice Ravel – Bolero
Schedule and programs subject to change.
About the Britt Orchestra and Britt Music & Arts Festival
Founded in 1963, the Britt Orchestra brings together over 75 professional musicians from across the United States for three weeks of open-air performances each summer. Forming the heart of the annual Britt Music & Arts Festival, the Britt Orchestra Season takes place in Jacksonville, Oregon, less than half an hour’s drive from the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
The festival was the brainchild of Portland conductor John Trudeau and musician Sam McKinney, who came to southern Oregon in search of the perfect location. When they discovered the superb natural acoustics and stunning views of Britt Park – the former hillside estate of Jacksonville pioneer Peter Britt, a Swiss-born photographer who became one of Oregon’s most celebrated citizens – they knew that they had found it. In 1963, with a small chamber orchestra on a makeshift stage, the first summer outdoor music festival in the Pacific Northwest was born.
Since its grassroots beginnings, the non-profit organization has grown from a two-week chamber festival to a multi-disciplinary summer-long concert series with year-round education and engagement programs. Constructed 40 years ago, the 2,200-capacity Britt Pavilion enables Britt to present world-class artists while maintaining the intimacy for which it is known.
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