Wang, Lang, Ma and Bell rule Philharmonic Society's 2015-16 season

Wang, Lang, Ma and Bell rule Philharmonic Society's 2015-16 season
Lang Lang performing at the 2014 Grammy Awards at Staples Center in L.A. He'll kick off the Philharmonic Society of Orange County's 2015-16 season with a recital at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Cost Mesa. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

What would an Orange County classical music season be without a superstar or two from China?

The Philharmonic Society of Orange County’s newly-announced concert list for 2015-16 leaves the question unanswered. It features separate performances by pianists Lang Lang and Yuja Wang – both known for virtuosity spiked with showmanship.

Almost every year since 2008 has seen a starring performance by either Lang or Wang at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa.

For the Philharmonic Society, O.C'.s leading importer of touring classical talent, 2015-16 will be the first season picked by its new artistic director, John Mangum.  The current 2014-15 season that ends in May was chosen by Dean Corey, who'd led the organization for 21 years before retiring last summer.


Among Corey’s parting gifts as an impresario is a March 28 performance by Wang, who’ll appear as soloist in the Gershwin piano concerto, accompanied by Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra.


Other big names in Mangum's initial harvest for 2015-16 are violinists Joshua Bell, Pinchas Zukerman and Hilary Hahn and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Lang Lang will open the season with a recital of Bach's Italian Concerto, Tchaikovsky's "The Seasons" and Chopin's scherzos (Oct. 17). The program for Ma's recital (May 14, 2016) hasn't been announced.

The season’s other recital is by pianist Garrick Ohlsson (May 26, 2016), who’ll share the spotlight with projections of paintings that inspired the pieces he’ll be playing, Enrique Granados' “Goyescas” and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

Wang will again appear as a soloist with an orchestra – this time the Russian National Orchestra, led by Mikhail Pletnev. She'll perform Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 on an all-Russian program that also includes Prokofiev's Suite from "Romeo and Juliet" and Borodin's "In the Steppes of Central Asia" (Feb. 24, 2016).

Bell and Zukerman both will be doing double-duty as soloists and conductors of the London-based orchestras they serve as music directors – the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and the Royal Philharmonic, respectively.

Zukerman's all-Mozart program (Jan. 20, 2016) includes the Violin Concerto No. 5, the Piano Concerto No. 21, featuring soloist Jonathan Biss, and Symphony No. 40.

Bell and the Academy musicians will essay the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, Ligeti's "Concert Romanesc" and Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 (March 7, 2016).

Hahn will appear with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by its assistant conductor, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla (a Dec. 13 matinee). It's  a program of the Violin Concerto No. 4 by 19th century Belgian composer Henri Vieuxtemp, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 and 20th century Soviet composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Suite No. 4 from "The Golden Key."

The season's other orchestral concerts include the New York Philharmonic, led by its music director Alan Gilbert in works by Brahms sandwiched around Schumann's Cello Concerto, which will feature principal cellist Carter Brey (May 3, 2016); an all-Beethoven program from the Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Boguslaw Dawidow and featuring pianist Adam Golka (March 15, 2016); and the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, led by Nicholas McGegan (May 10, 2016).

The Philharmonia Baroque will be touring the U.S. premiere of "La Gloria di Primavera" (The Glory of Spring), a recently-rediscovered piece for orchestra and five singers by Alessandro Scarlatti. Diana Moore, Suzana Ograjensek, Clint van der Linde, Nicholas Phan and Douglas Williams are the singers.

The recitals and orchestral concerts all take place at Segerstrom Concert Hall – as will a flamenco performance from Spain's Compania Flamenca Jose Porcel (Nov. 19) and a film/music program in which the Orlando Consort, a vocal ensemble from Britain, will accompany Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 silent classic, "The Passion of Joan of Arc" with music from the time of the French teen heroine (Jan. 16, 2016). Another bunch of Brits burned her at the stake in 1431.

A seven-concert afternoon chamber music series will be performed  at the Irvine Barclay Theatre at UC Irvine – except the Tetzlaff Trio's concert of works by Schumann, Dvorak and Brahms at the Segerstrom Center's Samueli Theatre (Feb. 19, 2016).

The Danish String Quartet will make its Orange County debut (Nov. 1) performing music by Thomas Ades, Haydn and Beethoven – as will the Meccore String Quartet from Poland (March 13, 2016) playing Haydn, Ligeti and Beethoven. The cello and piano duo of Julie Albers and Orion Weiss performs a program of Janacek, Poulenc, Beethoven and Grieg (April 3, 2016) and San Diego's Camera Lucida group plays Schubert, Mendelssohn and Schumann (May 8, 2016).

Pianist Joyce Yang, violinst Augustin Hadelich and guitarist Pablo Sainz-Villegas will present “Tango, Song and Dance,” a program of Spanish-themed music that takes its name from a piece by Andre Previn that will anchor the evening. The concert includes works by six other composers, including Alberto Ginastera, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Astor Piazzolla (April 16, 2016).

Contemporary classical music gets the spotlight in a concert by the Chicago sextet Eighth Blackbird, who'll perform "Hand Eye," a new, six-part work by Sleeping Giant, a composers' collective whose members, Ted Hearne, Andrew Norman, Christopher Cerrone, Timo Andres, Robert Honstein and Jacob Cooper, each will contribute a segment (April 24, 2016).

The other Philharmonic Society event with an experimental edge is the Laguna Beach Music Festival, Feb. 11-14, 2016 at various venues in Laguna. Violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Shai Wosner are the artistic directors who'll decide the programming.

The Society's two holiday shows feature the Canadian Brass (Dec. 21 at Irvine Barclay Theatre) and a cappella all-woman singing group Anonymous 4 (Dec. 5 at St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine). Anonymous 4 has announced it's packing it in for good after its 2015-16 touring, completing a 30-year run. It had announced the same thing in 2004, then changed its mind.

Follow @boehmm  for arts news and features