Forte: Looking ahead to the upcoming season


Lawrence Golan, Yakima Symphony Orchestra music director

While summer is a time for family and a slower professional pace than that of the concert season, it is also the time that I use to do the bulk of my preparations for the upcoming season. I use the time to study pieces I have not conducted before.

So although I am in theory “on holiday” in Europe as I write this, currently in an area of Spain known as the “white coast,” my mind is very much on Yakima and all the music that we will be sharing together throughout the upcoming season.

In our first Classical Series concert, “Bolero,” an all-French program featuring musical equivalents to a Monet art exhibit, I’m most excited about a composer whom I have not encountered until now: Lili Boulanger, the younger sister of the internationally renowned composition teacher Nadia Boulanger.

“Made in America” is the title of Joan Tower’s 2005 Grammy Award-winning composition that was co-commissioned by 65 orchestras throughout all 50 states. One of the other orchestras with which I work, the York Symphony Orchestra, was one of those orchestras.

I’m also really looking forward to the Dvorák Cello Concerto. This piece is universally regarded as the greatest cello concerto of all time and is one of my personal favorites. “Symphonic Dances” features Rachmaninoff’s masterwork of the same name. While many people know Rachmaninoff for his piano concerti, he was also a great symphonic composer and I’m looking forward to sharing this work with you.

“Scheherazade & Other Remarkable Women” focuses on one of the greatest masterpieces of the orchestral repertoire, “Scheherazade” by Rimsky-Korsakov, which will feature our remarkable concertmaster, Denise Dillenbeck. Another remarkable woman of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, Angelique Poteat, will be featured as clarinet soloist and composer.

On “String Fever” I’m excited to share “Three Olympians” by one of my favorite living composers, Peter Boyer, who also composed “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” performed by the YSO in 2017.

For the grand finale of the season, we are duplicating the exact program that founding music director Brooke Creswell created 50 years ago for the orchestra’s first concert in The Capitol Theatre which was, as Maestro Creswell told me, “the concert that got the community’s attention.”

For me, some of the highlights of our Pops Series include a jazz masterpiece by Dave Brubeck, arranged for orchestra by his son Chris Brubeck: “Blue Rondo à la Turk;” a screening of the original Boris Karloff “Frankenstein!” with the orchestra performing the soundtrack live along with the film; and “Name That Tune,” famous classical music you know and love but can’t necessarily name. The one piece from that program you probably can name is Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” a piece I hear often as I travel — United Airlines uses it as the company’s theme song.

So as you can see, no matter where I am, Yakima and the music we share is never far from my mind. I look forward to seeing you all at the symphony!

• Lawrence Golan is music director of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Learn more at

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