American Classical Orchestra (ACO) released its programming for the 2019-20 season—the orchestra’s 35th year of presenting historically accurate, engaging, and educational concerts led by Artistic Director and Founder Thomas Crawford. ACO performs four concerts at Lincoln Center; two salon concerts; a 35th anniversary gala benefit; a performance at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer; a family concert and instrument petting zoo in Norwalk, CT; and Cycle II of its three-year Sfzp Fortepiano Project, including a performance at New York Society for Ethical Culture.
Of the 35th season, Maestro Crawford says, “American Classical Orchestra is New York City’s own Classical-era period orchestra, one of very few in the world. Our 2019-2020 season celebrates three major milestones: the 35th anniversary of the orchestra, the 20th for its education outreach program Classical Music for Kids (CMK), and the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. This year’s expanded programming includes collaborations with world-renowned soloists including violinist Aisslinn Nosky, fortepianist Petra Somlai, and recorder-player Horacio Franco. In May 2020, Cycle II of The Sfzp Fortepiano Project centers on Beethoven’s works for fortepiano, including a marathon performance of all thirty-two piano sonatas. Having reached over 300,000 schoolchildren, Classical Music for Kids will connect to thousands more this year as we reprise one of our most acclaimed programs, The Magic Recorder. A wealth of great music awaits this season, and we look forward to sharing it with you.”
This season, ACO welcomes artist-in-residence Horacio Franco, a world-renowned Mexican recorder virtuoso whose vast repertoire ranges from Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque to new works written specifically for him by composers from around the world. Franco is in demand as a soloist, appearing frequently with top orchestras across Mexico and internationally. He also works to dispel the image of the recorder as a staid or limited instrument through innovative concerts, recording projects, and outreach programs. Franco has taught recorder across six continents, bringing music education to a number of underserved and marginalized populations around the world. Franco will be featured in several ACO salons and concerts and, alongside Maestro Thomas Crawford, will lead ACO’s Classical Music for Kids program The Magic Recorder.
2019-2020 Season Schedule
The 35th season opens on September 19 with Celebrate! at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. The program includes Rossini’s witty Semiramide Overture as well as Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 featuring fortepianist David Belkovski, winner of ACO’s 2019 Sfzp International Fortepiano Competition. On the cusp of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, the concert also features his Symphony No. 2, a work both noble and joyful.
Hidden Treasure on October 10 at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer highlights ACO in a performance of Jan Zelenka's Missa Omnium Sanctorum together with the ACO Chorus and soloists. A composer of high esteem in the musically-renowned Dresden court of the 18th century, strikingly little is known about Jan Zelenka, and not even a portrait of him remains. One of his final works, Missa Omnium Sanctorum displays the daring harmonies and virtuosic solo writing characteristic of Zelenka at the height of his musical powers.
On November 15, ACO’s annual gala celebrates its 35th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of its Classical Music for Kids program at The Harvard Club of New York City. The celebration includes a cocktail reception with live jazz trio, dinner and dancing to a 9-piece band, and a performance by ACO’s Season 35 artist-in-residence, Horacio Franco.
ACO’s season continues on November 21 at the National Arts Club’s Grand Gallery with Viento Caliente, a salon concert featuring recorder player Horacio Franco and ACO bassoonist Stephanie Corwin in a program of Vivaldi concerti.
ACO presents Noël, a holiday salon concert, on December 3 at St. Ignatius of Antioch, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The festive program includes Scarlatti’s Christmas Cantata featuring critically acclaimed soprano soloist Nola Richardson, as well as Corelli’s Christmas Concerto and De Lalande’s Noëls.
The season continues at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on February 1, 2020, with Like as the Hart, a concert featuring Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 “Like as the hart desireth the waterbrooks,” Gluck’s De Profundis “Out of the depths,” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1.
ACO brings its engaging Classical Music for Kids program to Norwalk, Connecticut on March 8, 2020, for The Magic Recorder: A Family Concert + Instrument Petting Zoo at Norwalk Concert Hall. The instrument Petting Zoo, sponsored by CT School of Music and Instrument Rental, is followed by a Family Concert featuring Vivaldi’s “Winter” from Four Seasons and concerti by Vivaldi and Bach with Horacio Francoand Stephanie Corwin.
On March 12, 2020, ACO presents Concerti Stravaganti at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. The program features Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4; Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with star period violinist Aisslinn Nosky; Corelli’s Concerto Grosso in C, Opus 6, No. 10; Vivaldi’s Recorder Concerto in G, RV 312 featuring Horacio Franco; and Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerto in A minor with Stephanie Corwin.
ACO’s final subscription concert of the season, High Fives – ACO @ 35 on May 7, 2020, at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, celebrates the 250th birthday of Beethoven, a composer whose work is at the core of ACO’s repertoire. The program includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 paired with Schubert’s Symphony No. 5. Coinciding with the ACO’s Sfzp Fortepiano Project, the concert includes Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, featuring Hungarian virtuoso Petra Somlai on fortepiano.
ACO’s Sfzp Project continues with Cycle II: Beethoven from May 6-9, 2020. The Sfzp (sfortzpiano) Project, in its second cycle of a three-year initiative, focuses on Beethoven and his works for piano. In addition to the May 7th concert at Lincoln Center, Sfzp 2020 will include fortepiano master classes, a chamber music concert, the second Sfzp International Fortepiano Competition, and a marathon performance of all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas.
The culminating concert of Cycle II of The Sfzp Project, Appassionata, takes place on May 9, 2020, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. The program includes Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, Op. 133, selections from Beethoven’s Volkslieder featuring tenor Lawrence Jones, and Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 “Appassionata.” The winners of the second Sfzp International Fortepiano Competition will also be announced.
About American Classical Orchestra
Described as “simply splendid” by The New York Times, the American Classical Orchestra (ACO) is a leader in the field of historically accurate performance. A period instrument ensemble devoted to preserving and performing the repertoire of 17th, 18th, and 19th century composers, ACO recreates the sound world of the masters using priceless historic instruments, as well as era-specific performance techniques. Comprised of the world’s top period instrumentalists, the ACO provides audiences with the opportunity to experience classical music in the specific way it was intended to be heard.
Founded by Artistic Director Thomas Crawford in 1984 as The Orchestra of the Old Fairfield Academy in Fairfield, Connecticut, the American Classical Orchestra moved to New York City in 2005, emerging as the City’s premier period instrument ensemble.
The ACO is dedicated to the appreciation and understanding of classical music through educational programs, and spreading historically-informed performance practices to new generations. In order to provide audiences with first-hand insight into the music, Music Director Thomas Crawford gives informative concert previews with live musical examples from the orchestra at the beginning of each concert. In 2019, ACO launched The Sfzp Project, a three-year initiative to elevate the study and performance of the fortepiano, including an international concerto competition, whose winner is given a featured appearance with the orchestra, among other prizes. Finally, through its immersive in-school program, Classical Music for Kids, the orchestra has inspired hundreds of thousands of young students and musicians. For this work, the ACO was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant and Early Music America prize.
For more information, visit the ACO’s website.