The 2014-15 classical music season

Experience the magnificence of Prudential Hall when some of the world’s greatest orchestras and soloists make beautiful music together.


The New Jersey Performing Arts Center has announced its 2014-2015 Bank of America Classical Series, a listening adventure that spans performances from hometown favorites – the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) and the Philadelphia Orchestra – to a pair of Europe’s most distinguished ensembles: the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, making its NJPAC debut.

Two keyboard virtuosos will perform as well in the 2,800-seat Prudential Hall: Chinese pianist Yuja Wang in a solo recital for the first time at NJPAC and the return of André Watts as guest artist with the NJSO. In what has all the makings of a magnificent holiday presentation, musicians of the New Jersey Symphony Chamber Orchestra will gather with esteemed soloists and the Montclair State University chorus for a December performance of Handel’s Messiah.

“This is a season of renewal and discovery,” says NJPAC Programming Associate William Lockwood, who booked the classical season. “NJPAC is renewing its association with both the Philadelphia Orchestra, after an absence of a decade, and the legendary Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig. And we are giving our audiences a chance to discover both Yuja Wang, the most exciting and electrifying new keyboard star since Lang Lang, as well as a rare visitor to our shores, Switzerland’s L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, in its NJPAC debut.

“In addition, as always, we welcome opportunities to collaborate with our own New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and this season we have a double-header. For the first time at NJPAC, Handel’s Messiah, and the return of perennial favorite André Watts, playing not one, but two classics from the piano concerto repertoire by Beethoven and Grieg.”

Read all about the upcoming season’s programs and artists* below. Ronni Reich of The Star-Ledger had this to say. To subscribe to NJPAC’s Bank of America Classical Series or to renew your seats, call 1-888-MYNJPAC (696-5722) or click here. There's a digital brochure of the NJPAC season right here.

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, 8pm
Prudential Hall

Riccardo Chailly, conductor
Nikolaj Znaider, violin

Mendelssohn: Overture to “The Hebrides,” Op. 26
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5, Op. 107 (“Reformation”)

Nikolaj_Znaider_300x232.jpgA giant in the symphonic musical tradition, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra – Mendelssohn’s orchestra – presents an all-Mendelssohn program under the baton of the dynamic Riccardo Chailly, La Scala’s next Music Director. Nikolaj Znaider is guest soloist in the Violin Concerto in E minor, recognized as a towering work in the repertoire.

The oldest civic concert orchestra in the world, the Gewandhausorchester boasts an exceptionally wide repertoire and versatility, serving as a concert orchestra, opera orchestra and chamber orchestra. Its prestigious music directors have included Mendelssohn himself, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Kurt Masur and now Riccardo Chailly, a native of Milan who is equally devoted to concert and operatic repertoire. In addition to his many engagements with orchestras around the globe, Chailly was formerly Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Chief Conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chief Conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra.

The program also includes Mendelssohn’s ethereal Overture to “The Hebrides,” popularly known as “Fingal’s Cave,” and the celebratory “Reformation” Symphony.

Yuja Wang
Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014, 3pm
Prudential Hall

Schubert: Sonata in A, D. 664, Op. 120

Schubert/Liszt: Excerpts from Schwanengesang, D. 957

Scriabin: Sonata No. 9, Op. 68

2 Poemes, Op. 63

plus other works

Balakirev: Islamey


Yuja_Wang_300x232.jpgMaking her NJPAC debut, acclaimed piano recitalist Yuja Wang brings her graceful stage presence and fresh interpretations of works by the greatest composers to Prudential Hall. One of classical music’s newest superstars, this Grammy-nominated artist has been classified by The Detroit News as “simply the most important pianist to appear in recent years – period.”

Regularly lauded for her prodigious technique, Yuja has been praised for her authority over the most complex technical demands of the repertoire. She has performed here and abroad with top orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony. Most recently, Yuja collaborated with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in a live recording of Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 2 and Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3.

Her playing combines the spontaneity and fearless imagination of youth with the discipline and precision of a mature artist. “Sure, she can treat delicate subject matter with appropriate delicacy,” wrote one critic in The Washington Times. “But when she feels it’s called for, she can attack a Steinway concert grand with volcanic fury and blow her audience away with a tremendous passion you’re not quite expecting.”

Handel’s Messiah
Sunday, Dec. 21, 3pm
Prudential Hall

New Jersey Symphony Chamber Orchestra
Jacques Lacombe, conductor
Nathalie Paulin, soprano
Mireille Lebel, mezzo-soprano
Isaiah Bell, tenor
Gordon Bintner, bass-baritone
Montclair State University Singers
Heather J. Buchanan, director


Presented in collaboration with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Musically superb and emotionally uplifting, Handel’s Messiah is a holiday season must-hear for music lovers everywhere. With its exhilarating “Hallelujah Chorus,” the Messiah resonates each time it is performed.

This iconic, centuries-old oratorio has come to be known as Handel’s masterpiece. The Messiah has become a Christmas tradition, even though in 1742 it was introduced as a work commemorating Easter. A soaring showpiece for chorus, soloists and orchestra, considered one of the most majestic compositions in Western music, Messiah is a soul-stirring way to celebrate Advent.

For this ambitious production, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jacques Lacombe leads his orchestra, the choristers of Montclair State University under the direction of Heather J. Buchanan, and esteemed guest soloists.

Philadelphia Orchestra
Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, 7:30pm
Prudential Hall

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
Kirill Gerstein, piano


Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 2
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C, Op. 67
Shostakovich: Selections from The Gadfly

The Fabulous Philadelphians perform Beethoven’s powerhouse Fifth Symphony, as well as a pair of works by Shostakovich, in their first NJPAC appearance in a decade. Founded in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra has distinguished itself as one of the world’s leading orchestras through its thrilling performances, historic international tours and best-selling recordings. The orchestra appears at NJPAC under the leadership of its new Music Director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and features guest soloist Kirill Gerstein on piano.

The selections by Shostakovich are excerpts from The Gadfly, composed for the 1955 Soviet film of the same title, and the lighthearted Second Piano Concerto.

Kirill Gerstein’s curiosity has led him to explore repertoire spanning centuries and styles, making him one of today’s most intriguing and versatile musicians. His early training and forays into jazz were important in shaping his interpretive style and energetic and expressive musical personality.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin is the eighth music director in the Philadelphia Orchestra’s lineage, which also includes Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Christoph Eschenbach. He is Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Friday, February 20, 2015, 8pm
Prudential Hall


Charles Dutoit, conductor
Nikolai Lugansky, piano

Stravinsky: The Song of the Nightingale
Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 43
Debussy: Ibéria
Ravel: La valse


Appearing for the first time at NJPAC, Switzerland’s globally acclaimed L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande will be conducted by Charles Dutoit in an alluring program of early 20th-century masterpieces. Founded in 1918 and currently under the musical leadership of Neeme Järvi, the orchestra has always been actively engaged in discovering, promoting and premiering the works of contemporary composers. Throughout its history, L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande has amassed an outstanding collection of award-winning recordings and has been heard in major concert halls and festivals worldwide.

The evening features works attached to ballets: Rachmaninoff’s vivacious Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Stravinsky’s The Song of the Nightingale (Le chant du rossignol), a symphonic poem based on a fable by Hans Christian Andersen. Debussy’s impressionistic Ibéria, the centerpiece of the three-part Images pour Orchestre, is considered among the best of his “travelogue” soundscapes. Rounding out the program is Ravel's choreographic poem for orchestra, La valse.

With more than 200 recordings to his credit, two-time Grammy Award winner Charles Dutoit, Artistic Director of the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Conductor Laureate of the Philadelphia Orchestra, is a popular guest and collaborator among the most prominent orchestras. He served as Artistic Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for 25 years.

André Watts
with the NJSO
Friday, May 15, 2015, 8pm
Prudential Hall

André Watts, piano
Peter Bay, conductor


Mozart: Overture to Cosí fan tutte
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
Stravinsky: Four Norwegian Moods
Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 17

Presented in collaboration with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Andre_Watts_300x232.jpgCelebrated American pianist André Watts plays two favorite piano concertos in an ambitious program with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Peter Bay, Music Director of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, conducts an imaginative selection of works that include Grieg’s passionate concerto and Beethoven’s luminous third concerto; Stravinsky’s folk-inspired Four Norwegian Moods, and Mozart’s effervescent Cosí fan tutte overture.

Watts’ storied career began at the age of 16, when Leonard Bernstein chose him to perform on one of the televised Young People’s Concerts. A perennial favorite with orchestras, he is a regular guest at major summer music festivals and the recipient of a 2011 National Medal of Arts. Watts has had a longtime association with TV audiences through his appearances on PBS, BBC and A&E, most recently as guest soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Seattle Symphony Orchestra on PBS.

*Programs and artists are subject to change.

Feb. 8, 2014