Orchestral Underpinnings: A classic autumn soundtrack

Yefim Bronfman

Autumn is a great time for classical music in New England. Giving way to fanfare and season openers, the 2019-20 season offers many opportunities to hear unique performances of obscure works as well as a healthy serving of familiar favorites. Read on to discover what’s happening this fall.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra has one more free outdoor concert on September 14 at Slater Park in Pawtucket. After that, keep an eye out for the official season opener on September 28, where world renowned soloist Yefim Bronfman plays “Piano Concerto No. 2” by Johannes Brahms. Later in the season, on October 19, the orchestra will perform “The Planets” by Gustav Holst, featuring the Providence Singers. On November 16, one can hear Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” featuring soloist Anne-Marie McDermott, and the dark and ominous “Tenth Symphony” by Dmitri Shostakovich. For more information visit

The Boston Symphony Orchestra offers different classical programs weekly. Starting on September 19, Andris Nelsons leads the orchestra in a program of music by Poulenc and Beethoven, and features a new commission by composer Eric Nathan. Little needs to be said about the BSO’s world class status and commitment to classical excellence. Just one hour from PVD, hearing these incredible pieces performed by this orchestra in one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in the USA is well worth the price of a ticket. For more information visit


On Saturday, September 21, Odyssey Opera of Boston performs “Henry VIII” by Camille Saint-Saëns. First premiered in Paris in 1883, this work tells the story of King Henry VIII’s divorce from Queen Catherine of Aragon. Odyssey Opera is known for presenting obscure opera in concert format — minus the sets and lighting, with all the music. Performed in French with English supertitles, this concert takes place at Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory, one of the region’s finest acoustic venues. For more information, visit

On Saturday, October 5, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra opens its season with Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 1,” featuring soloist John Novacek, and Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 8.” This is a gala concert commemorating SSO’s 76th anniversary season. On November 5, another concert features the music of Tchaikovsky, Brahms and a new work by acclaimed composer Missy Mazzoli. It turns out there’s more to Springfield than the Basketball Hall of Fame. For more information, visit

ENSEMBLE / PARALLAX presents an evening of contemporary music and short experimental films on Thursday, September 26 at Sapinsley Hall at Rhode Island College. This concert will feature works composed by Salvatore Sciarrino and Patricia Alessandrini, and features video artist Wolfgang Lehmann.

On October 5 and 6, the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Yaniv Dinur, opens its season with a concert titled “Mozart and Mahler,” featuring Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 4” and Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 20.” Dinur will serve as both conductor and soloist. This ambitious program may be well worth the trip out along route 195.

On October 11 through 13, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra opens its season with a program of American music, including George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” Leonard Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide” and Aaron Copland’s “Symphony No. 3.” On November 2 they will perform the music of John Williams from the film Raiders of the Lost Ark as live accompaniment to the screened movie. All performances take place at the Bushnell Center in Hartford, Conn.

On Saturday, October 26, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Toshi Shimada, performs Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” and Tchakovsky’s “Violin Concerto” with soloist Solomiya Ivakhiv. Performing at the Garde Arts Center in New London, this group is a cultural gem in the middle of nowhere.

In addition to their ongoing collaborations with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, The Providence Singers will present Gabriel Fauré’s “Requiem” and James Whitbourn’s “Luminosity” on November 9 at McVinney Auditorium. They are one of the finest choirs in all of New England, based right here in PVD.