Ground Control to Major Key: MSO's 2018-2019 Concert Lineup Shoots for the Stars

Jul 12, 2018

Robert Moody, conductor of The Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

Conversations between NASA's mission control and astronauts walking on the moon may not seem like "the right stuff" of classical music.

But Memphis Symphony Orchestra music director Robert Moody thinks that space chatter will make for an intriguing libretto during one concert in the MSO's 2018-19 line up. 

The season is packed with three concerts series: Masterworks, Classic Accents and Pops. Special guests include Telly Leung and Ryan Anthony. 

Here Moody discusses what to expect during the 2018-19 season.   



Kacky Walton: You put together a fantastic season! 

Robert Moody: We wanted to plan a season that had the right elements of great music, which would be the right fit for Memphis.  

Walton: Opening weekend is Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Cannon Center. As always, you will be doing a performance the following afternoon at the Germantown Performing Arts Center. Tell us about your first concert. 

Moody: We always start a series off with a bang. There will be six (Masterworks) concerts during the year. We open with Overture and Suite from Candide by Bernstein.  

Also, there will be Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, as well as Dances in the Canebrakes

Walton: In November, there is a veteran's salute.  

Moody: The concert falls right on Veterans Day at GPAC and the day before at Cannon. We are going to do the Aaron Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man, which was written as part of the war effort for World War II. After that is Elgar's Enigma Variations. The big piece is by Jenkins, The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. Jenkins' song was a call for peace. The Armed Man was a War-of-the-Roses' French marching carol.  

Walton: Pianist Awadagin Pratt performs in January.

Moody: He is going to do Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.4. Second half we are doing Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2

Walton: Then you are bringing in a rock star.  

Moody: Yeah, Keith Lockhart is the music director for the Boston Pops and is really one of the most famous faces in all of music. He is going to do Dvorak's Symphony No. 8. Charles Dimmick, who is the concertmaster of the Boston Pops will play Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto. Daniel Roumain is an African-American composer, who wrote the piece called Dancers, Dreamers, and Presidents. He wrote it when then Presidential candidate Barack Obama went onto the Ellen DeGeneres show and danced. Roumain was inspired by the dance and wrote a phenomenal piece that is in three sections that follow the title, Dancers, Dreamers, and Presidents

Walton:  In March, you are bringing back a musician who has strong Memphis ties.  

Moody: There are a lot of concerts that I have done that are powerful. This is going to have a unique kind of power. Ryan Anthony is coming to be our guest soloist. Ryan Anthony got his start in the trumpet section of the MSO.  

We are opening the concert with John Williams' Summon the Heroes. Then we will play Stephenson's Concerto No. 3. Followed by Meech's Song of Hope with both trumpets, Ryan Anthony and Scott Moore. Lastly is Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.  

Walton:  You'll wrap up the concert series with Gustav Mahler.  

Moody: We will be doing Mahler's Symphony No. 5. The concert will start off with Mason Bates' Passage, which will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing. He was given permission to use the conversation between Houston and the people in space. So, that becomes part of the music itself. And, we will end the concert series with Mahler No. 5.   

Walton: Would you like to go over the Classic Accents series for next year? 

Moody: The Classic Accents is a smaller orchestra, with about 30 to 40 people on stage. On the first Classic Accent, in January, is Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale

The second Classic Accent is going to feature cellists Ruthy Valente Burgess and Kimberly Patterson. They will play David Ott's Double Cello Concerto. There will also be Brahms' Symphony No. 1

The final concert is Telly Leung. He is currently Aladdin on Broadway. Prior to that, he was in Rent and You're a Good Man, Charle Brown. We are going to do Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, "Eroica" and Peter Schikele's Beatleset. Beatleset is six Beatles' tunes set for chamber orchestra and singer.  

Walton: You are also bringing back the Pops!  

Moody: We are growing our Pops concert series. A couple of years ago the Pops was down to one, maybe two concerts. Now, our Magic of Memphis has become a huge hit in the middle of December. We are actually bringing in a real magician and illusionist this year, Lyn Dillies. Everything she does is choreographed to the music. 

Speaking of live choreography, the fall Pops concert Cirque De La Symphonie is coming in October. 

In January, there is Elvis in Las Vegas. And, in March, we are saluting David Porter, who is actually helping us with this performance. We are even having new pieces written for this tribute. 

The final Pops is going to be on May 4, which is international Star Wars Day. We are bringing in Star Wars reenactors with music from all of the Star Wars films. 

Walton: The Memphis Symphony Orchestra is about to have a new website.  

Moody: Right but you will still be able to purchase tickets from our current site. But, the new website will be available in the next few weeks, so keep your eye out. 


To get your tickets for the 2018-2019 season, visit or by calling The Memphis Symphony Orchestra at (901) 537-2525.



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