To kick off conductor Lucas Richman’s 10th season with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, the first concert of the upcoming 2019-20 season, set for Sunday, features a little bit of everything from his long and diverse career.
There’s new music from a contemporary composer, something Richman has sought to include in every season since he got to Bangor in 2009. That composer, Kathryn Bostic, is a former student of Richman’s from his long-running annual conducting workshop for visual media composers, which he has led for 22 years and are held in Los Angeles by music licensing company BMI.
And one of the pieces set to be performed — Modest Mussorgsky’s famed 10-movement suite “Pictures at an Exhibition” — is something Richman has conducted a number of times, including for a recording for a very famous individual.
“Not only is it one of the great classical pieces and a standard part of the repertoire, but I conducted the ‘Great Gate of Kiev’ movement for a recording that was featured in Michael Jackson’s ‘HIStory’ tour in the late ’90s,” Richman said. “So I do have a bit of a ‘history’ with the piece.”
Richman’s background in film and TV composing and conducting led him to Bostic, who in 2007 took his conducting workshop and developed a strong working relationship with him. A few years later, she sought Richman’s advice as she adapted into a symphony works of hers that she had written for plays by the great African-American playwright August Wilson.
“Over the course of three years she worked to turn it into a full, 25-piece symphonic setting with narration, which premiered in 2018 with the Pittsburgh Symphony, with Phylicia Rashad narrating,” Richman said. “She has taken the bull by the horns, when it comes to the symphonic form, and we’re immensely thrilled to present new work from her.”
Bostic’s BSO piece, “Tovaangar: Coronation and Chaos,” is a world premiere that will open Sunday’s concert. It will be followed by “The Village Romance,” from composer James Newton Howard, a setting of the score Howard wrote for the M. Night Shyamalan film “The Village.” Howard’s score was nominated for an Academy Award in 2004, and the recording featured acclaimed violinist Hilary Hahn — conducted by Richman.
Playing the violin for both “The Village Romance” and for Pablo de Sarasate’s “Carmen Fantasie,” the fourth piece on the program, will be 18-year-old SooBeen Lee, a South Korean violin prodigy now based in Boston.
All the concerts throughout the rest of the 2019-20 season will feature elements celebrating Richman’s 10 years with the BSO, including performances featuring members of the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra, Richman’s solo piano debut with the BSO (playing Poulenc’s “Sextet” at the Jan. 26, 2020 concert) and in March 2020, the premiere of Richman’s multimedia symphonic work, “The Warming Sea,” commissioned by the Maine Science Festival.
Sunday’s concert is set for 3 p.m. at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono. For tickets, call 207-581-1755 or visit bangorsymphony.org.