The Northwest Sinfonietta might be launching a season of experimentation, with a completely new model of rotating artistic directors. But for the opening concerts next weekend in Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup, the group is playing it safe musically with a program of Copland, Mozart and Beethoven — though not their most commonly heard works.
In addition, the soloist — Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Martínez — is making her debut with the group, while director David Lockington will share his take on the music in a pre-concert talk Tuesday.
“I love creating programs with a mix of repertoire,” Lockington said earlier this year. “I’m not a specialist … (but) I infuse the music with style and energy. That’s what I’m hoping to bring to the orchestra.”
Lockington is the second of three new artistic “partners” who will rotate concerts, leading the chamber orchestra on stage while the behind-the-scenes leadership will be shared by players, board and staff. The new model announced earlier this year, when founding director Christophe Chagnard stepped down. The orchestra, which just won a Washington state Governor’s Arts and Heritage Award, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season.
In the mix for Lockington’s first concert is Copland’s “Music for the Theatre,” Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8. The Mozart — premiered in 1785 by the composer — is a popular concert work and also featured in the 1984 movie “Amadeus.” The other two works are heard less often. In fact, it’s the first time the Sinfonietta has ever played the Copland, written in 1925 after his studies in Paris and one of the first works where he brings popular American music into his writing.
“I’ve always loved this piece,” said Lockington, who is British. “There’s so much color: first a fanfare, then vaudeville and a quiet section. It’s a perfect fit for chamber orchestra.”
The Beethoven also is not as widely performed as his other symphonies, but Lockington likes the “Haydn-esque wisecracks” and the driving finale.
The rest of the orchestra’s season is likewise filled with more unusual and interesting works. Lockington will direct Aaron Jay Kernis’ “Musica Celestis” and Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War” when he returns in March; Eric Jacobsen will lead pieces from Richard Strauss’ “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” and Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite” (May) to a Rossini-Feldman-Verdi-Schubert-Golijov combination in November.
IF YOU GO
What: Northwest Sinfonietta season opening concert.
Who: Director David Lockington, with Gabriela Martínez, piano.
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 (Seattle), 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 (Tacoma); 2 p.m. Oct. 18 (Puyallup).
Where: Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; Rialto Theater, 310 S. 9th St., Tacoma; Pioneer Park Pavilion, 330 S. Meridian Ave., Puyallup.
Also: Free pre-concert talk by David Lockington 7 p.m. Tuesday at Chinese Christian Church, 5025 N. Pearl St., Ruston.
Information: 800-215-4747 (Seattle); 800-291-7593 (Tacoma); 800-838-3006 (Puyallup); nwsinfonietta.org.