THE BAND PLAYS ON

Austin Symphony Orchestra trumpets return of live shows with new season

Austin Symphony Orchestra trumpets return of live shows for new season

Austin Symphony Orchestra
ASO welcomes a new CEO ahead of the 2021-2022 live season. Photo by John Gutierrez

After navigating a challenging year in which it hosted no live concerts, Austin’s oldest performing arts organization is finally returning to in-person performances for its 2021-2022 season —and with a new CEO running the show.

The Austin Symphony Orchestra welcomes new CEO and executive director David Pratt, a performing arts veteran whose 25-year career as an entertainment-industry manager has taken him to some of the most illustrious arts organizations in the U.S. and Australia.

Most recently working as the executive director of the Savannah Music Festival, Pratt has a wealth of experience, including holding top positions with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Santa Barbara Symphony, the startup Savannah Philharmonic, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, among many other roles in the arts.

Pratt replaces former ASO executive director Anthony Corroa, who was with the organization for more than 20 years.

“We are thrilled that David is joining our ASO family,” says Ben Bentzin, president of the ASO board of trustees. “As we return to live performances this fall, the ASO is poised to build its momentum and community impact under David’s leadership. Following a national search with many outstanding candidates, it was David’s experience in the performing arts and visionary leadership that made him the right choice as we seek to deepen the ASO’s connection to communities throughout Central Texas.”

The 110-year-old ASO just announced the lineup for its new season, themed “Re:Ignite, Re:Unite,” and will also celebrate renowned music director Peter Bay’s 25th season with the organization this year.

ASO’s Master Works series for the season will include:

  • ¡Espíritu Latino!, an Anthony J. Corroa concert featuring an all-Latin theme, September 17 and 18.
  • Otherworldly, featuring Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” with visuals from NASA, October 15 and 16.
  • Ode to Joy, Beethoven’s monumental “Symphony No. 9,” November 19 and 20.
  • The Greats, featuring R. Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavilier” and Johann Strauss Jr.’s “Emperor Waltzes,” along with Ifetayo Ali-Landing performing Edward Elgar’s beloved “Cello Concerto in E Minor,” January 14 and 15, 2022.
  • Remarkable Romantics, featuring pieces from Czech composers Josef Suk and Antonín Dvořák, and violin legend Midori performing Sibelius’ “Violin Concerto in D Minor,” February 18 and 19, 2022.
  • Hemispheric Sounds, featuring piano phenom Stewart Goodyear performing Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 5,” March 11 and 12, 2022.
  • The Mighty Russians, with Stravinsky’s “Circus Polka,” April 8 and 9, 2022.
  • American Landscapes an Anthony J. Corroa concert featuring American composers, May 20 and 21, 2022.

ASO’s Butler Pop Series for the season will include:

  • Back to the Future on the big screen with ASO performing Alan Silverstri’s musical score, October 23.
  • The Paul Simon Songbook, December 29 and 30.
  • West Side Story, with ASO performing Bernstein’s score live, February 26, 2022.
  • Swing is the Thing, featuring champion swing dancers and guest vocalists performing 1940s and ’50s hits, June 3 and 4, 2022.

“I’m truly excited and look forward to connecting with Austinites, especially through the power of music,” Pratt says. “This is a great time for me to be here as we launch our Spring Forward campaign for our 2021/22 season — a return to live music. There’s so much to look forward to with the ASO. Some of my all-time favorite orchestral pieces are featured in the new season. … This is music we all know and recognize. It’s the kind of music that not only brings the community together but fills us with joy. I also love it when the symphony performs a live score for big Hollywood blockbusters, like we are doing with Back to the Future in October 2021 at the Long Center. It’s just great to be here in Austin and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the community.”

Symphony lovers who just can’t wait for the fall season can check out one remaining special ensemble appearance, performed at an area COVID-19 vaccination site. On Saturday, April 26 from 10 am-noon, an ASO string sextet and string quartet will perform at the Ascension Texas administrative offices vaccination site at 1345 Philomena St.