In September, when Grammy-winning conductor Fabio Luisi launched his tenure as Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO), their season-opening concerts marked the first return to live performance by a major American orchestra, in its own hall, since the start of the pandemic. Still one of the few U.S. orchestras playing regularly for live audiences, the DSO announces a full January and February lineup, featuring the world premiere of a new co-commission from Composer-in-Residence Angélica Negrón; collaborations with guest artists Hélène GrimaudLeonidas KavakosNicholas McGeganAlessandro Taverna and Rachel Willis-Sørensen; and four programs conducted by Luisi. The performances will all be presented in accordance with strict health and safety guidelines, and will all subsequently be available for streaming in the DSO’s Next Stage Digital Concert Series. As the Wall Street Journal observes, “this orchestra’s example is certain to be a beacon for ensembles everywhere.” Furthermore, DSO is thrilled to announce that Luisi’s contract with the orchestra has been extended through 2028-29.
With the extension of his tenure as Music Director, Luisi will continue to focus on the works of contemporary and iconic American composers, and, following last season’s exceptionally successful Salome concerts, will also conduct an annual opera-in-concert presentation as soon as larger ensembles are again able to gather. Under his leadership, the DSO has launched a ten-year commissioning program to foster the creation of 20 new works, ten of them by women. Next to appear will be the world premiere of Composer-in-Residence Angélica Negrón’s En otra noche, en otro mundo (“On Another Night, In Another World”) on February 4, and new orchestral works by Jessie Montgomery, Xi Wang and Bruce Adolphe are scheduled to premiere in the orchestra’s 2021-22 season. The initiative has already seen the recent premieres of compositions including Julia Wolfe’s Fountain of Youth, Magnus Lindberg’s Absence (Abwesenheit – L’Absence) and Bryce Dessner’s Trombone Concerto.
Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony Association, says:
“During this unprecedented and challenging time, the Dallas Symphony sought every opportunity to perform live music. We know music inspires, heals, entertains and sustains our spirit, and through the commitment of the Board, our musicians and the generosity and interest of the community, we were able to perform more than 100 chamber music concerts outdoors in neighborhoods around Dallas. What’s more, we were determined to find a safe way to continue the subscription season in the Meyerson Symphony Center with a live audience. Doctors from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center helped us navigate the situation, and with reduced orchestra size and daily testing for musicians and staff members, combined with strict audience attendance limits and health protocols, we have performed 3–5 concerts weekly since early September. In addition, last summer we installed a video control room and robotic cameras in the concert hall so we can film our concerts for viewing online. This technology enables us to showcase our orchestra to an even wider audience. The Dallas Symphony is committed to making music despite the myriad of barriers, and we are hopeful that this music will be as meaningful to our audiences as it is to us.”
Luisi comments:
“Our time making music this fall allowed us to reflect on what we do and what we offer to our audiences. It showed us the value of making music, and it showed us how creativity and innovation can bring light to dark times. I am so very proud of this orchestra and this organization for the work they are doing to continue to perform, and I look forward to returning this winter.”
Luisi will return to the Dallas Symphony to conduct four weeks of concert performances in January and February. For their first concerts of the new year, he and the orchestra pair Bizet’s exuberantly youthful Symphony in C with Saint-Saëns’s Second Piano Concerto, featuring Italian pianist Alessandro Taverna, “a serious and potentially major talent” (The Guardian), as guest soloist (live Jan 28–31; streaming from Feb 5).
Next Luisi and the DSO give the world premiere performance of En otra noche, en otro mundo (“On Another Night, In Another World”), by Angélica Negrón, whose music has been credited with “revealing personal truth through beautiful illusion” (National Sawdust Log). Bookending Negrón’s new work are Beethoven’s Leonore Overture and his sole Violin Concerto, with former Gramophone Artist of the Year Leonidas Kavakos as soloist (live Feb 4–7; streaming from Feb 12).
An “outstanding Straussian” (Gramophone), who has made numerous recordings of the composer’s music, Luisi next leads the DSO in Richard Strauss’s neoclassical Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite. To complete the program, the conductor and orchestra join DSO Concertmaster Alexander Kerr, known for his “beautiful, sweet tone, a technical mastery of his instrument and a complete understanding of musical style” (Washington Post), for Mozart’s Third Violin Concerto (live Feb 18–21; streaming from Feb 26).
For their final winter collaboration, Luisi and the DSO perform Mahler’s joyous Fourth Symphony in a chamber arrangement by Klaus Simon. Soprano soloist Rachel Willis-Sørensen, a familiar face at the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera and Covent Garden who “has without doubt one of the most impressive voices in the opera world” (Le Monde, France), joins them for the final movement (live Feb 25–28; streaming from March 5). Last fall, when Luisi led the DSO in a similar chamber adaptation of Mahler’s Song of the Earth, the Dallas Morning News observed: “Luisi lovingly shaped this deeply personal music. … The ending, gently caressed by winds, horn and strings, with tinkling celesta, was magical.”
The DSO undertakes two collaborations with other conductors to complete the New Year’s lineup. Grammy nominee Nicholas McGegan leads an all-Mozart program featuring incomparable French pianist Hélène Grimaud (live Jan 14–16; streaming from Jan 29, both on the DSO website and on Deutsche Grammophon’s DG Stage), and Concertmaster Alexander Kerr played and conducted a program of Mozart, Shostakovich and Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, who was born into slavery but became one of the leading composers in Revolutionary Paris (live Jan 8–10; streaming from Jan 15).
September saw the debut of the DSO’s new robotic cameras and video studio, with which it now captures concerts for livestreams and on-demand viewing. Those unable to attend the upcoming performances in person are invited to stream them online in the orchestra’s Next Stage Digital Concert Series. Presented with support from PNC Bank, these encore events are free to subscribers and available for purchase individually or with a Season Pass subscription. Since its launch, Next Stage has already allowed thousands of viewers around the world to enjoy DSO concerts virtually.
Resounding success last fall
The partnership between Luisi and the Dallas Symphony got off to a highly auspicious start last fall. As the Wall Street Journal reported, their season-opening performances of an all-Beethoven program “were muscular and soulful while touched with grace and charm as well – not unaffected by life’s recent dramas and horrors but undaunted by them.” Similarly impressed, the Dallas Morning News observed: “The smaller incarnation of the DSO was also an acoustical revelation in the Meyerson. In part because of the stage extension, strings had new sonic presence and clarity. In the Eighth Symphony’s dramatic rests, sounds faded in a sweet glow of reverberation that never muddied the effect.” In a dedicated feature, the Associated Press described how the DSO succeeded in returning to the Meyerson by limiting audience numbers and instigating vital safety measures. As Musical America concluded, Luisi and the DSO “turned ominous challenges to artistic advantage.” Their opening-night concert is still available for streaming, free of charge, here.

Although forced to cancel their originally scheduled performances of Verdi’s Requiem, Luisi and the orchestra succeeded in putting on a star-studded 80-minute concert of the Italian composer’s overtures, arias and duets. According to the Dallas Morning News, soprano soloist Angela Meade demonstrated “blazing lower-range vocalism and hot-coals intensity on high,” mezzo soloist Jamie Barton supplied “a coloristic range as vast as [her] character’s range of emotion,” and tenor soloist Bryan Hymel wowed audiences with his “enormous, muscular tenor.” All told, “With an Italian conductor who clearly has Verdi in his veins, there wasn’t a dull moment.” Like all DSO’s programs this season, the concert is available for purchase in the Next Stage series.
Health and safety
Health and safety are the DSO’s top priorities; the Dallas Symphony’s standards and protocols for performers and concert-going have been drawn up in close collaboration with Trish Perl, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Programmed for reduced orchestral forces, the upcoming concerts were all designed with social distancing in mind. Each about an hour in length, they will be performed without intermission for audiences of approximately 200 patrons in the spacious 1,838-seat hall. As was the case last fall, both the DSO musicians and their patrons will be socially distanced during the performances, and the string players, percussion section, harpist and orchestral pianists will all be masked. Audience members are required to wear masks and arrive at a designated time, and there is no food or beverage service available. Additional safety measures include the installation of HEPA filters throughout the Meyerson Symphony Center, which is cleaned thoroughly after every concert. As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, the DSO continues to follow all the latest governmental health and safety guidelines.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra: New Year 2021
Texas Instruments Classical Series
(All concerts take place at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX.)

Jan 8 & 9 at 7:30pm
Jan 10 at 2:30pm
Violin and Conductor: Alexander Kerr
SAINT-GEORGES: Overture to The Anonymous Lover
SHOSTAKOVICH: Chamber Symphony for Strings, Op. 118a
MOZART: Symphony No. 29 in A, K. 201
Streaming from Jan 15
Jan 14, 15 & 16 at 7:30pm
Conductor: Nicholas McGegan
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466 (with Hélène Grimaud, piano)
MOZART: Symphony No. 40, K. 550
Streaming from Jan 29streaming on DG Stage from Jan 29
Jan 28, 29 & 30 at 7:30pm
Jan 31 at 2:30pm
Conductor: Music Director Fabio Luisi
SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor (with Alessandro Taverna, piano)
BIZET: Symphony in C
Streaming from Feb 5
Feb 4, 5 & 6 at 7:30pm
Feb 7 at 2:30pm
Conductor: Music Director Fabio Luisi
BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto (with Leonidas Kavakos, violin)
ANGÉLICA NEGRÓN (DSO Composer-in-Residence): En otra noche, en otro mundo (world premiere)
BEETHOVEN: Leonore, Overture No. 1
Streaming from Feb 12
Feb 18, 19 & 20 at 7:30pm
Feb 21 at 2:30pm
Conductor: Music Director Fabio Luisi
MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 3 in G, K. 216 (with Alexander Kerr, violin)
R. STRAUSS: Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite
Streaming from Feb 26
Feb 25, 26 & 27 at 7:30pm
Feb 28 at 2:30pm
Conductor: Music Director Fabio Luisi
MAHLER (arr. Klaus Simon) Symphony No. 4 in G (with Rachel Willis-Sørensen, soprano)
Streaming from March 5