Donald Munro

Fresno Philharmonic season an extended job search

Heidi Blickenstaff performs with the Fresno Philharmonic on Dec. 3.
Heidi Blickenstaff performs with the Fresno Philharmonic on Dec. 3. Special to The Bee

After a big media event last fall, we already know the names of the six candidates who are finalists for the new music director of the Fresno Philharmonic.

Now, with the announcement of the orchestra’s 2016-17 season, which serves as an extended job tryout, we know what those candidates will conduct and who their guest artists will be.

Each candidate will be in Fresno for approximately a week. In addition to rehearsals and a concert, they’ll also do interviews with media, meeting with the orchestra’s search committee and participating in other events with subscribers and supporters. Audience members will have a chance to offer feedback to the search committee after each concert, says Stephen Wilson, the orchestra’s president and CEO.

The orchestra’s season announcement last week also included big news for Fresno-area Broadway fans. In her first appearance with the Fresno Philharmonic, Heidi Blickenstaff will perform in the annual “Home for the Holidays” concert on Dec. 3. Blickenstaff is a Fresno native and former Good Company Players star who has gone on to an impressive Broadway career, including leading roles in “Something Rotten.” It’s a coup for the orchestra to snag this “hometown star” for the event.

Tickets go on sale online Aug. 1. The season for the public includes six Masterworks concerts, two pops concerts and one special-event concert. All are at the Saroyan Theatre except as noted:

Masterworks series

Concert 1: 3 p.m. Oct. 2. Sameer Patel, conductor. Gabriela Martinez, piano. Jonathan Leshnoff’s “Starburst”; Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20; Sibelius Symphony No. 2.

Concert 2: 3 p.m. Nov. 2. Daniel Meyer, conductor. Amit Peled, cello. Beethoven “Egmont Overture,” Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1; Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3 (Organ).

Concert 3: 3 p.m. Jan. 22. Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor. Philippe Quint, violin. Mason Bates’ “Mothership”; Mozart Violin Concert No. 5; Berlioz “Symphonie fantastique.”

Concert 4: 3 p.m. Feb. 19. Aram Demirjian, conductor. Anthony McGill, clarinet. Mozart’s “Overture to Don Giovanni”; Gershwin’s “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” from “Porgy & Bess”; Copland Clarinet Concerto, Dvorak Symphony No. 8.

Concert 5: 3 p.m. March 19. Rei Hotoda, conductor. Shai Wosner, piano. Zhou Long’s “The Rhyme of Taigu”; Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”; Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5.

Concert 6: 3 p.m. April 9. José-Luis Novo, conductor. Chee-Yun, violin. Mozart’s “Overture to the Magic Flute”; Dvorak Violin Concerto; Ravel’s “La Valse”; Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.”

Pops series

“Home for the Holidays”: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3. Heidi Blickenstaff, vocals, with the Fresno Master Chorale. Andy Einhorn, conductor.

“What a Wonderful World”: 7:30 p.m. May 13. Byron Stripling, trumpet and vocals. Chelsea Tipton II, conductor.

Special concert

Handel’s Messiah: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 and 3 p.m. Nov. 20, Shaghoian Hall. Anna Hamre, conductor, featuring the Fresno Master Chorale.

Other orchestra news

The Fresno Philharmonic received a $200,000 gift from the William T. Coyle and Wanda G. Coyle Charitable Trust to sponsor one concert per season for the next 10 seasons. The trust previously endowed the assistant principal cello chair in the orchestra and sponsored a concert in 2010 featuring Itzhak Perlman.

William T. Coyle was a principal in the Benefit Administration Corp., which administered health and other employee benefits for large unions. Wanda G. Coyle was a writer for The Bee.

The Coyle funds will be used to sponsor the season’s opening concert.