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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Swan Lake, Don Juan and Awadagin Pratt make for a special season opener for the KSO

Photograph of a swan, taken in 2011
Flickr user Jumilla. CC BY 2.0
Photograph of a swan, taken in 2011

The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra’s artistic and executive directors join Cara Lieurance to share their anticipation for the season-opening concert at 7:30 pm on Saturday, Sep 23 in Miller Auditorium. In the interview, Jessica Mallow Gulley and conductor Julian Kuerti talk about the three works by Richard Strauss, Jessie Montgomery, and Piotr Tchaikovsky that will open 103rd season.

Jessie Montgomery’s new work, “Rounds,” will feature the polymath pianist Awadagin Pratt, who has championed the work by performing it with over 30 orchestras since its premiere in 2022.

There’s no shortage of pre-existing suites based on Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake, but Kuerti chose to create his own, partly because the other suites left out music he didn’t want to leave behind. He went through the 2 1/2 hour ballet score to find a satisfying combination of highlights that he and the orchestra would enjoy performing.

Kuerti’s no stranger to the music of and lore of Richard Strauss, whose tone poem Don Juan is one of the supremely virtuosic works of the late 19th century. He gives an overview of Strauss’ life and undying love for theater.

Tickets and more information are available at the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra website.

Cara Lieurance is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on 1021 WMUK and covers local arts & culture on Let's Hear It on 89.9 Classical WMUK weekday mornings at 10 - 11 am.