Arts & Culture
4:56 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Turning A Financial Corner, Dallas Symphony To Launch New Festival And Artist-In-Residence

The Meyerson Symphony Center turns 25 this year, and the Dallas Symphony will be celebrating.

After several years of cutbacks and caution, good financial news has the DSO making more ambitious plans for its new season.

In addition, there are plans to launch an annual three-week music and arts festival in the Arts District, called Soluna. The name combines the Latin words for sun and moon, indicating the kind of round-the-clock activity the festival hopes to offer in May 2015 in the Arts District.

Also, for its 2014-2015 season, the Dallas Symphony will inaugurate a new recital series for the acclaimed Lay Family concert organ in the Meyerson. The orchestra will also expand its new ReMix series, the one that has the DSO performing more adventurous, more chamber-music-style concerts in the City Performance Hall.

“It does make economic sense to expand”

DSO president Jonathan Martin says all of this is possible because the orchestra’s audience and revenue numbers are looking up.

“We reversed a long-term trend starting this past year,” he says. “If we can continue to build our audience, and if we can continue to build the funding, it does make economic sense to expand [the number of concert weekends]. So it’s not just for artistic reasons, it’s part of our business plan. And, also, the reality is we’re in a better economy than we were three years ago.”

The orchestra’s performance numbers will be back, more or less, to where they were in 2009. But the new season is not simply more of the same. Occasionally, the music choices will be newer, more challenging, with an American premiere and several Dallas premieres, including a piano concerto by the young Dallas composer Chase Dobson.

And there’ll be such works as Bela Bartok’s one-act opera, Bluebeard’s Castle, performed in concert, as well as Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3 (Kaddish) and an evening of European composers who were in “Hollywood exile,” creating film scores during the ’30s and ’40s.

An artist-in-residence

The DSO has also appointed what may be its first artist-in-residence. (Previous appointments were composers-in-residence, and the last one of those was Lowell Lieberman in 2002.) This season’s appointee is Conrad Tao, fresh off of his commissioned JFK memorial, The World Is Very Different Now, which the DSO premiered in November. Tao will perform at the Meyerson as well as in the ReMix series and will collaborate with DSO musicians.

A celebration for the Meyerson

Then there are the celebrations for the Meyerson’s 25th anniversary. These, Martin says, won’t be just a look back. He hopes to have a conversation about the future of the I. M Pei-designed building.

“I want it to be a call to arms,” Martin said. “When this hall was built, there was no internet. There were no provisions for digital media. So we’ve now got a building that’s a generation old and we need to make the investment in this building to keep it one of the best concert halls in America.”

In addition to a high-tech upgrade, Martin says he’s looking at ways the Meyerson can link up more with the crowds coming to Klyde Warren Park.

Read more -- and hear the story -- on KERA’s Art&Seek.