MSO announces new season, fresh website

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra's announcement this week of a sprawling 2019-20 program coincides with the launch of a spiffed-up version of the MSO website.

Beginning with an opening weekend concert Sept. 28, MSO spans the seasons (including Vivaldi’s "Four" next winter) with familiar composers and Grammy winners, and romps on into the spring, with the annual Mother’s Day Concert by the MSO Big Band Orchestra at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens as the season’s closer. [read more]

-- The Daily Memphian August 1st, 2019

Robert Moody Changes the Tempo of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra

We could begin with a scene of Robert Moody standing before an expectant Memphis Symphony Orchestra: Bows poised above strings, flutes flourished and ready. All eyes on Moody, the conductor and, as of this month, music director of the MSO. All the pieces in place.

-- Memphis Magazine 07.02.18

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Memphis Symphony Orchestra Announces 2018-2019 Lineup

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra has announced its lineup for the 2018-19 season. This season, while remaining committed to performing masterworks of the classical genre, such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky, they are seeking to showcase it’s modern flexibility.

-- Choose 901 06.25.18

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Memphis Symphony Orchestra unveils 2018-2019 Season Lineup

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra wants audiences to be “challenged” and introduced to new people and ideas via its programming choices and performance series, a philosophy that informed how the symphony’s upcoming season, which kicks off in September, was put together.

-- Memphis Daily News 04.06.18

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Making Art Work. The days of pulling in new audiences give way to reaching out.

After he’d finished his part in a Memphis Symphony Orchestra performance a few weeks ago that included Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade for Violin, guest violinist Charles Yang came out on stage and did something unexpected.

-- Memphis Daily News 03.17.18 

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The MSO: Bringing Political Resonance to 20th Century Works

It was impressive to see just how many listeners braved the icy roads last Saturday to attend the Memphis Symphony Orchestra's formidable “Percussion Explosion” concert at the Cannon Center. And it was heartening to know that the audience bore witness to a moment of such political engagement in the local arts scene. Of course, by “political,” I don't mean Republican or Democrat, but that intersection where the arts reject escapism in favor of a confrontation, body and soul, of the powers that be.

- Memphis Flyer 01.18.2018

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Memphis Symphony finalizes leadership team with CEO hire

MSO names President and CEO, Music Director, Assistant Conductor, Engagement and Inclusion Manager and Director of Artistic Operations.

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra today named Peter Abell its President and CEO,
filling the final role needed to create an artistic and operational team capable of executing the organization’s mission - to perform classical music at the highest caliber while meaningfully engaging with the Greater Memphis community.

Abell’s appointment follows a string of leadership hires for the Symphony beginning with the promotion of Robert Moody to Music Director in March, followed by the hiring of Andrew Crust to serve as Assistant Conductor of the Symphony and Conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony in June. Steven Fox was also added to the team as Engagement and Inclusion manager, and finally the addition of Rachael Patton to serve as the Director of Artistic Operations.

-The Commercial Appeal, 08.08.2017

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Memphis Symphony Orchestra names Robert Moody music director

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra announced Saturday night that principal conductor Robert Moody has been hired as music director.

Moody, 49, who has been serving as conductor on an interim basis since October 2015, has signed a six-year contract to serve as the MSO's fifth music director, starting with the 2017-18 season. Symphony board chairwoman Gayle Rose announced the hire onstage during Saturday night's "Orchestral Fireworks!" Masterworks concert at The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.

-The Commercial Appeal, 03.25.2017

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Talking Tchaikovsky, Electronica, and New Beginnings with Robert Moody

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s recent performance of Ravel’s Bolero marked Robert Moody’s last visit to the Bluff City as a guest artist. Moody, who has served as Music Director for the Winston-Salem Symphony, Artistic Director of Arizona Musicfest, and Music Director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, has been named to succeed Mei Ann Chen as the conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. And the MSO’s newly announced 2016-17 season has Moody’s fingerprints all over it. The MSO and Moody have been courting since 2006, when he was first invited to guest conduct a special concert in honor of Elvis Presley's birthday. Here’s what Moody had to say about joining the MSO and his slow but steady journey to Memphis.

-Memphis Magazine, 02.24.2016 

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We Recommend: MSO's Bolero!

Relationship issues? Memphis Symphony Orchestra (MSO) conductor-in-waiting Robert Moody is here to help. With his assuring South Carolina drawl, the man chosen to replace departing MSO music director Mei-Ann Chen offers this piece of advice: "If you're in the doghouse because maybe you didn't get your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner exactly what you were supposed to for Valentine's Day, now is your chance to make up for it and buy tickets to the symphony this weekend."

-Memphis Flyer, 02.18.2016

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Memphis Symphony Orchestra takes on trio of standards

Robert Moody will lead the Memphis Symphony Orchestra this weekend for its Masterworks concerts, and it's somewhat of a milestone: "This is my final time to come with the title 'guest conductor.'"

It's not so much the end of an era as a prelude to a new one. The maestro assumes the duties of principal conductor starting next season as MSO music director Mei-Ann Chen finishes her tenure here this season.

- The Commercial Appeal, 02.17.2016

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Grant will help symphony recruit minority musicians

A $50,000 grant from the prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will help the Memphis Symphony Orchestra develop a program that coordinators say is intended to attract young musicians from Latin, African-American and other "underrepresented" communities to the orchestra.

-The Commercial Appeal, 02.03.2016

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The Memphis Symphony Chorus: Unsung Heroes

From rock-and-roll and soul, to R&B and hip-hop, there's no doubt Memphis is one of the world's premier music cities. As Memphis music has conquered the world over the last five decades, there has been a group that has performed in front of untold thousands of people, but who have largely flown under the radar of most Memphians: the Memphis Symphony Chorus.

-Memphis Flyer, 01.28.2016

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Memphis Symphony Orchestra Names Robert Moody as Principal Conductor

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra announced Thursday that it has tapped a familiar face to be principal conductor starting with the 2016-17 season.

Robert Moody, who auditioned for the position of music director in 2010 after the departure of David Loebel, will take over the podium from Mei-Ann Chen, who announced in February that she would be moving on after this season. Moody, 42, signed a two-year contract for the position.

By: Mark Richens

Posted October 1st, 2015

Commercial Appeal

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Symphony CEO Valliere to leave post in November

Memphis Symphony Orchestra CEO and President Roland Valliere — a “turnaround specialist” who reversed the symphony’s serious financial crisis by orchestrating a deal that required the musicians to take deep pay cuts — is stepping down from the job Nov. 9.

By: John Beifuss
Posted August 17th 2015
Commercial Appeal

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Sunrise, Sunset...

The night was beautiful.

The weather was perfect. The crowd that descended on Tom Lee Park for the last-ever Sunset Symphony was enormous. And they say that the fireworks display that closed this year's Memphis In May (MIM) festival was the largest pyrotechnic show the city has ever witnessed.

By: Chris Davis
Posted May 28, 2015
Memphis Flyer

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Million-dollar gift is music to Memphis Symphony's ears

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra has received a gift of $1 million to expand its education and outreach programs and thus increase the income of its musicians, who this year experienced deep pay cuts.

The donation from the Memphis-based Helen and Jabie Hardin Charitable Trust will consist of two half-million-dollar awards, earmarked for the symphony’s 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

By: John Beifuss
Posted March 21, 2015
Commercial Appeal

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Memphis Symphony Orchestra Music Director Mei-Ann Chen to step down after 2015-2016 Season

Mei-Ann Chen, music director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra since 2010, will leave the organization when her contract is up next year.

By: Jon W. Sparks

Date Posted: February 26, 2015

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Memphis Symphony in fine form for Masterworks program of 'greatest hits'

Concert Review: Memphis Symphony Orchestra in fine form for Masterworks program of ' greatest hits'
By: Jon W. Sparks
Posted: November 17, 2014
Commercial Appeal

The weekend's Masterworks concerts by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra were, as maestro Mei-Ann Chen put it, a collection of greatest hits.  The tunes in the crowd-pleasing über-pops concert were in the main, rousing and popular mid-19th to early 20th century reliables. 

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Memphis Sympohony Orchestra opening season with 'trimphant' Tchaikovsky piano concerto

Memphis Sympohony Orchestra opening season with 'trimphant' Tchaikovsky piano concerto
By: Jon W. Sparks
Posted: October 16, 2014
Commercial Appeal

Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto is worthless, clumsy, vulgar.

Wait, hold on there. Now it’s true that the composer did write a letter saying that when he first showed it to some friends, that was their feedback. Some friends.

Yet Jon Kimura Parker, who will perform the work this weekend with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, says it’s now one of the most perennially popular piano concertos — “Some say the most popular.”

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Parker Provides muscular interpretation of Tchaikovsky

Concert Review: Parker provides muscular interpretation of Tchaikovsky.
By: Jon W. Sparks
Posted: October 19, 2014
Commercial Appeal

The first Masterworks concert of the season for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra almost didn't happen.

A financial crisis made public early in the year found the organization with a depleted endowment and no chance to complete the 2013-14 season unless drastic measures were taken.

They were.  Jobs and performanes were cut, fundraising went into high public gear.  Last season made it to the finish line, but whether a 2014-15 season would happen was still iffy.  It took a trimmed down performance schedule and a significant pay cut for the musicians to bring about a season that got underway Saturday night at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.

The program was robust, sending a signal that the MSO is still in the game, determined to deliver the classics and reach out to the community, even if on a budget.

Maestro Mei-Ann Chen offered up a one-two punch to make sure attention was being paid.Guest performer Jon Kimura Parker played Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto in the first half, giving a muscular interpretation to the masterpiece.

Parker is a power pianist, giving the keyboard a thorough pounding and bringing forth a glorious performance. He knows the Tchaikovsky, having recorded it in 1986 with Andre Previn and having performed it frequently since. Parker pulls out not only the full textures but does justice to the sweetness in the piece, including the dance like passages in the final movements.

After intermission, the MSO performed Dvorak's uplifting Symphony No. 9 "From the New World," an assured crowd-pleaser. Certainly the audience at the Cannon Center adored it asthe musicians played with great heart and vigor, although there was less finesse than in thepast. There was gorgeous work from individuals and often from the orchestra, but alsomoments of mediocrity and some noticeable rough spots.

When Chen first came to the MSO, she arranged for what she called "surprises" in the concerts, typically a performance by a local school group. That disappeared for a while, but Saturday night saw this delightful practice return with two works by the Central High School Concert Singers led by Gaylon Robinson. Whatever it was that rapper Rick Ross was doing around the same time over at the FedEx Forum, it couldn't have topped the artistry of these slam dunk young performers.

Opening the evening was Danse Negre by Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. It's a rousing, pleasant work and brought a welcome bit of diversity to the MSO's programming.

The death of violist/violinist Marshall Fine in August from a traffic accident hit the local music community hard. Fine, also a respected composer, had performed with the MSO for many years. Chen and MSO board chairman Gayle Rose said the season would be dedicated to his memory. This was the second tribute to Fine this week with a similar remembrance Thursday at the concert by the IRIS Orchestra for whom Fine also played.

Copyright 2014 Memphis Commercial Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten orredistributed.

Memphis Symphony Orchestra's Beethoven Double Header Knocks it out of the Park

Memphis Symphony Orchestra wow with final First Tennessee Masterworks performance of the season featuring Beethoven's Symphony No.6 and Symphony No. 5.

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Published: May 4, 2014

$100,000 gift will help Memphis Symphony Orchestra, but 'real money' still needed

A $100,000 gift to the Memphis Symphony Orchestra announced Sunday will do much to help the organization get through the season, but serious long term issues remain to be addressed.

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Published February 3, 2014

Wharton on symphony: 'It would not be Memphis without it.'

Civic leaders on Friday called the Memphis Symphony Orchestra a crucial community institution and expressed optimism a solution will be found to its financial woes.

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Published January 31, 2014

Memphis Symphony Orchestra aims to restructure, 'plant a new tree'

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra is in a deep financial hole that can only be filled by radical restructuring or a massive donation.

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Published January 30, 2014

Rhapsody in Blue concert review

MSO concert 'brilliant from beginning to end'

Published November 19, 2013

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American 'Rhapsody'

A national classic gets a new spin as the Marcus Roberts Trio and MSO join up

Published November 15, 2013

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My 2 Cents with Mei-Ann Chen, interview by Terre Gorham

The November 2013 issue of Memphis DOWNTOWNER takes a moment to talk with Mei-Ann Chen.

Published November 2013

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Long arms of Memphis Symphony Orchestra reach into community, even behind bars

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra is going to jail — to perform, that is.

It should come as no surprise since the organization and the musicians have been breaking the rules for years. But this is part of a movement rooted in its very survival, one that goes well beyond playing Masterworks concerts at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.

Date published: November 4, 2013

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Memphis Symphony names new CEO

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra, long seeking an innovator with skills in community relations, partnerships, fundraising and strategic planning, has hired Roland Valliere as president and chief executive officer.

Date published: October 29, 2013

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New World Symphony's New Study Confirms Success of Alternative Concerts

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra participated in alternative concert study through the Opus One series.

Date Published: October 7, 2013

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A Symphony of Community Engagement

MSO is active in the Memphis community.

Date Published: October 6, 2013

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Community Foundation makes grants to 15 non-profits

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra is one of 15 organizations to receive funding from the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

Date Published: September 30, 2013

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Opus One harks back to Stax days

Opus One with John Gary Williams opens the 2013-2014 series.

Date Published: September 26, 2013

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MSO Board Member Appointed to Tennessee Arts Commission

MSO board member Ritche Manley Bowden was appointed to the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Date Published: August 19, 2013

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Beat Goes On for Violinist with Hearing Loss

Former MSO musician Laurie Pyatt exchanged her violin for a drum after experiencing hearing loss.

Date Published: April 14, 2013

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'Fourth Chickasaw Variations' is symphonic tribute to Memphis

Go Memphis! article on Fourth Chickasaw Variations premiering this weekend.

Date Published: April 11, 2013

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Doing More About Diversity in America's Orchestras

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra is noted for the artistic leadership of Mei-Ann Chen.

Date Published: March 4, 2013

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Drum Circles at the Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief

See how MSO musicians impact their community.

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To see the drum circle, click here.

A Conversation with Mei-Ann Chen

Date Published: March 6, 2013

To listen, click here.