Eckart Preu will lead the Portland Symphony Orchestra as its music director beginning in the fall, and Saturday he announced what his first season will look and sound like. Preu, the orchestra’s music director-designate during the current season, also is showing off some of his chops as conductor, leading the orchestra in concerts at Merrill Auditorium at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

On Saturday, the orchestra offered a preview of its 2019-2020 season, which will open Sept. 22 and conclude June 23 with a total of 36 concerts, including classical and pops concerts, “Magic of Christmas,” and youth and Discovery Series concerts. In a statement, Preu said music of the season would be uplifting, exciting and touching, “and sometimes it might just blow your socks off.”

Preu will fill his first season with the music of Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and Brahms, as well as with music written by composers who Preu believes should be performed more frequently: Jean-Féry Rebel, William Boyce, Lilian Elkington and György Ligeti. He’s also programmed the music of living composers, including Robin Holcomb, who is writing a piece commissioned by the League of American Orchestras that the PSO will perform in January 2020.

In a statement, he said, “In between you’ll find everything you might be looking for: masterpieces of the classical-era by Schubert and Haydn, Romantic symphonies by Tchaikovsky and Brahms, and monster blockbusters like the Verdi Requiem and Richard Strauss’ ‘An Alpine Symphony.’ ” The latter will close the season-opening concerts, dubbed “Eckart’s Inaugural,” on Sept. 22-23.

Other highlights include “Revolution: The Beatles Symphonic Experience,” celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Abbey Road,” on Oct. 12-13; “Magic of Christmas” from Dec. 13-Dec. 22; an appearance by guest pianist Joyce Yang for a concert of music by Bizet, Ravel and Copland on Feb. 11; a salute to Elvis Presley, Feb. 22-23; and a salute to the British on April 7 with music by Handel, Haydn, Elgar and others.

Preu will conduct Verdi’s Requiem with soloists Elizabeth Caballero, Leann Sandel-Pantaleo, Raul Melo, Mark Walters and the ChoralArt Masterworks, on May 3 and May 5, and he will close his inaugural season June 23 with a performance of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony.

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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Twitter: pphbkeyes

Correction: This story was updated at 11:10 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2019 to correct the name of the organization that commissioned a piece by the composer Robin Holcomb.


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