NEW Bag Size Restrictions starting 1/1/2023: The Phoenix Convention Center and Venues are implementing a restricted bag size policy at Symphony Hall and The Orpheum.

No bags larger than clutch size (4.5″ x 6.5″) will be permitted. Medical and diaper bags will be allowed. Thank you for understanding.

Out Performing the Past

Jim Ward, the Symphony’s CEO, partially took the reigns of artistic director this year. No, he won’t be conducting, but he did play a larger-than-usual role in planning the 2013-14 season.

When Michael Christie resigned that position last year, the Symphony announced a 2012-13 brimming with guest conductors. Many speculated that the next music director would come from one of them. But the season ended without an announcement, and again in 2013-14, we will be treated to a cornucopia of guest conductors.

“General manager Andrew Kipe and I did the season, figuring out how many musicians were needed when, in which venue, playing what repertoire with what guest conductor and soloist.” says Ward. “Certainly a music director is an artistic leader, but even a music director must involve himself in a process with many other people. In deciding a season, the CEO is involved, as is a committee made of board members, staff and musicians. The CEO is involved and has a stake in the artistic product.”

The 2013-14 classics season is set to begin September 20, with a Beethoven Ninth Symphony, conducted by Andrew Grams. Other guest conductors throughout the year will include James Judd, Philip Mann, Gregory Vajda, James Paul and, most prominently, JoAnn Falletta, who has been named Principal Guest Conductor and who will conduct five sets of classics programs. Christie will also return for three programs, including the operatic, evening-length Verdi Requiem.

The Classics series will host as soloists five violinists, three pianists, a cellist and a harpist. Repertoire is anchored at one end by Mozart and the other by Shostakovich and Britten, with a single new work on the schedule, a commission from composer Matthew Mindson. The baroque music series put in place by Christie has apparently been ditched, and the only pre-1750 music slated is the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah.

Soloists throughout the year are largely up-and-comer, with the exception of two special events: an appearance by Lang Lang in October, performing Prokofiev with the orchestra, and a fund-raiser in the spring featuring a recital appearance and gourmet dinner with pianist Emanuel Ax, priced at a breathtaking $1,000 per ticket.

The biggest coup of the season is not in classics, but in Pops: John Williams will conduct the orchestra for one night only (Sept. 28) in music from his many famous film scores and narrating the concert will be none other than Steven Spielberg, the director of many of those films. The remaining Pops season will include the Indigo Girls and Brian Stokes Mitchell.

“It’s all about what’s going to work and what’s going to sell,” Ward says. “That’s the alchemy of the season.”