There’s been a lot going on at the MSO these days… Here’s a quick update:

Last Week:

I hope you caught one of last weekend’s performances. They were some of the most memorable this season! Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony rarely gets to shine like it did with Maestro De Waart and the orchestra. Frankly, after hearing a given symphony for an entire week in rehearsal and performance, I’m usually ready to move on by the end of the week – but this was an exception and I easily could have enjoyed another couple performances. It was also fun to feel the audience’s anticipation of Joyce Yang’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto. There’s a certain enthusiastic applause that greeted her very appearance on stage and with this being her third season of a Rachmaninoff cycle with the MSO, I can see why. If orchestras named “principal guest soloists”, instead of just conductors, I’m sure that would be her title here!

Many thanks to Scott Tisdel for playing some of Rachmaninoff’s gorgeous Cello Sonata with me during my pre-concert talks. I was surprised and delighted by the many emails and even a letter with responses from many of you.

You’ll also notice the orchestra has changed its setup on the stage. Two weeks ago, we had a special rehearsal dedicated to experimenting with the position of the sections of the orchestra, as well as adjusting the reflectors above the orchestra. The purpose was to improve the acoustics for the musicians on stage and also influence the sound in the hall. What we decided on is what you will most likely see for the rest of the season – I believe there has been a vast improvement in the quality of sound and balance that reaches the audience. I’ll be curious to see how the new setup holds up when I take the orchestra on tour in a few weeks.


Copland Symphony No. 3. This symphony is as American as the Superbowl. It oozes all of that spacious “landscape” writing and the heroic brass fanfares for which we all love Copland. If you love the piece below – “Fanfare for the Common Man” – imagine an entire symphony based on it… Yes, it’s that awesome.

Also this coming weekend is the end of Edo de Waart’s wild three-week residency which began with Schubert’s final symphony and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Now, we end it with Copland and two Tchaikovsky favorites: Romeo and Juliet, and the Nutcracker. (Maestro De Waart’s next residency begins in April.)

Looking Ahead:

I’m eagerly anticipating the announcement of next season so that I can gush about it here! I feel like a little kid once again with a whole season of presents that I can’t wait to tell you all about! It’s the orchestra equivalent of Christmas…

The MSO takes a break from the heavy subscription weeks for a little while. Next week is one of the few “off” weeks here (I’ll be making my debut with the Hong Kong Philharmonic). Then we return with a James Bond-related pops concert.

I’ll stay busy conducting several children’s concerts, a tour concert in Whitewater, and our annual Stars of Tomorrow Concert. The Stars of Tomorrow Concert on March 2nd features the Young Artist Competition winners and a side-by-side performance with more young musicians as we tackle Stravinsky’s brilliant Firebird Suite. Tickets are currently free if reserved ahead of time. (I’m personally excited to finally not be the youngest person on the stage!)

If you’re waiting for the next big symphony – look ahead to Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony on March 9-10. I think the brass will be recovered from Copland by then…


About Francesco Lecce-Chong

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