With a lineup of twenty pairs of concerts, and several weekday, no-intermission, on-stage evenings of music and mixed media, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is gearing up for one of its most exciting seasons to date, its hallmarks being an expansion of the repertory and an honest effort to reach across the cultural divide that has kept both artists of color and the potential audience that they could draw outside the doors to many concert halls.

Over two-dozen modern compositions are featured in the CSO’s 2019-2020 season, among them no less than ten world or US premieres, several commissioned by the orchestra. A good number of these works have been written by contemporary composers of color, and compositions by Adolphus Hailstork, and James Lee III are included in the company of 20th century classics by American pioneers William Grant-Still and Duke Ellington.


Women composers are very present in the CSO’s upcoming season, with works by , Julia Wolfe, Tanya Leon, Caroline Shaw, Florence Price, Lili Boulanger, and Julia Adolphe, evidencing a prevalent and laudable trend these days. Music Director Louis Langrée conducts most of the concerts, still leaving some room for guest conductors, among them two women: Simone Young and Eun Sun Kim.

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Another welcome aspect of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s work is the mentoring of musicians from minorities underrepresented in the orchestral music world. In partnership with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the CSO’s Diversity Fellows for this year are eight string players – five young women and three young men: Yan Izquierdo, Arman Nasrinpay, Alexis Shambley, Weiyi Shao, Dan Wang, Anita Graef, Camellia Aftahi, and Ian Saunders.

One more feather on the CSO’s cap is its commitment to engage female solo artists – piano duo Katia and Marielle Labèque, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, pianists Lise de la Salle, and Ingrid Fliter, singers Miah Persson, Isabel Leonard, Renee Fleming, Kelley O’Connor, and Joélle Harvey.

Music Director Louis Langrée and his team are taking the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra into the forefront of American orchestras with its cross-cultural initiatives.

Rafael de Acha

The schedule’s modern music highlights:

September 20, 21 Richard Strauss: An Alpine Symphony (1915)
September 28, 29 Gabriella Smith: New Work [World Premiere, CSO Co-Commission]
October 18, 19 Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 6 [World Premiere, CSO Commission]
October 25, 26 Francisco Coll: Hidd’n Blue [U.S. Premiere]
November 8, 9 Julia Wolfe: Fountain of Youth [CSO Co-Commission]; Igor Stravinsky: Petrouchka
November 15, 16 Adolphus Hailstork: An American Port of Call
James Lee III: Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula
Florence Price: Piano Concerto
William Grant Still: Symphony No. 1, Afro-American Symphony
Duke Ellington: Harlem
Friday November 22, 2019 | 7:30 pm Program includes music by Charles Ives and Tanya Leon
January 10 and 11, 2020 – Renée Fleming sings in a program of songs for voice and orchestra including Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs (1948)
January 18 and 19, 2020 – Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s 125th Anniversary Concert featuring an entire program of 20th and 21st century music with works by Eugene Ysaye, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Alexander Scriabin, and two world premieres, one by William Winstead and another by Daniel Bjarnason. With Aaron Diehl, piano, Vadym Kholodenko, piano, Tal Rosner, video artist, and the May Festival Chorus

January 24 and 25, 2020 – Ravel’s 1910 orchestration of his Pavane for a Dead Princess, and Unsuk Chin’s Cello Concerto

Wed Jan 29, 2020 at 7:30 pm – a program focusing on the Vogue Ballroom Culture, curated by Frédéric Nauczyciel, featuring the House of HMU

February 27 and 28, 2020 – Maurice Ravel’s 1925 one-act opera L’Enfant et les sortileges, starring mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard with a supporting cast of CCM students.
April 3 and 4, 2020 – David Lang’s man made and the world premiere of a new work by Sebastian Currier are included in a program featuring Sō Percussion
April 17 and 18 – A new work by Caroline Shaw commissioned by the CSO
Wednesday April 22, 2020 at 7:30 pm – A program of Cuban-inspired music and theatre curated by Rosie Herrera
April 25 and 26, 2020 – George Walker: Lyric for Strings; Ohad Ben-Ari: Forgiveness and Hope [U.S. Premiere] and Arnold Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht (Transfigued Night)
May 26 and 27 – Season Finale with a world premiere of a new work commissioned from Julia Adolphe