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North Carolina Symphony’s 85th Season
Features Masterworks and Expands NCS’s Repertoire
through Landmark Performances
with Music Director Grant Llewellyn
and Renowned Guest Artists

Highlights Include Production of Romeo and Juliet with
UNC School of the Arts; Return Appearance by Pianist Natasha Paremski
in Rachmaninoff Program; Collaborations with Resident Chorus,
North Carolina Master Chorale, to Perform
Mozart’s Requiem and Ravel’s Daphnis and Chlo
and Continued Commitment to New Art by Living Composers



RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina Symphony, which engages more than 250,000 North Carolinians each year, will bring the highest quality performances of symphonic music to the entire state in 2017/18, its 85th Anniversary season, with inspiring programs inside and outside of the concert hall. With its commitment to creating unique arts experiences, NCS earned national recognition as one of just four orchestras in the country selected to perform in Washington, D.C. at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on the first-ever SHIFT festival in March 2017. The Symphony’s commitment to engagement and innovation continues next season, with creative programs that will delight audiences and expand the artistic endeavors of the orchestra’s 66 professional musicians.

“NCS musicians bring deep passion and a spirit of curiosity to everything they perform,” says Music Director Grant Llewellyn. “I am eager to hear the insights that they will bring to our programs in the coming season, and look forward to exploring the additions to the Symphony’s extensive repertoire—creating new musical experiences for both our artists and our audiences.”

“Marking our 85th year of service, Grant Llewellyn has developed a season that will inspire seasoned concertgoers and newcomers alike,” says President and CEO Sandi Macdonald. “Working with artistic and statewide partners, we are honored to be a vital component of cultural life in North Carolina.”

Acclaimed for its exceptional artistry under the direction of Grant Llewellyn, NCS is proud to bring the highest caliber guest artists to our state. The impressive roster of talent joining the Symphony on its Classical Series includes pianist Natasha Paremski, violinist Philippe Quint, cellist Johannes Moser, and many more; and conductors Rune Bergmann (for Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition) and Ben Gernon (for Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Fountains of Rome), among others. NCS will showcase the virtuosity of its own artists, featuring Concertmaster Brian Reagin, Principal Bass Leonid Finkelshteyn, and French Horn players Christopher Caudill and Rachel Niketopoulos as soloists. Engrained in the fabric of its cultural community, NCS looks forward to continuing its established collaborations with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for a semi-staged production of Romeo and Juliet; and with its resident chorus, the North Carolina Master Chorale, for Mozart’s Requiem and Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé.

NCS will expand its repertoire, introducing North Carolina audiences to works the Symphony has never before performed—time-honored masterpieces such as Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, as part of a worldwide celebration of the centennial of his birth; the world premiere of a string bass concerto by the Symphony’s own Bass Trombone player, Terry Mizesko; and newer works by some of the most acclaimed composers of our time, including Nico Muhly, Jennifer Higdon, Missy Mazzoli, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and more.

Grant Llewellyn increases his appearances on the Pops Series in the coming season. He takes the podium in the fall for a program in the tradition of the great Boston Pops, and in the spring for a performance with North Carolina’s own folk-classical fusion band, The Kruger Brothers. NCS has a longstanding tradition of bringing its community together through music at the holidays, and the 2017/18 season offers new holiday programs, including Christmas with the Callaways with Tony-nominated sisters Liz Callaway and Ann Hampton Callaway; a screening of Home Alone on Thanksgiving weekend with the Symphony performing the soundtrack live; and How the Grinch Stole Christmas on the day before Thanksgiving. NCS will engage fans of a wide variety of musical genres, with a semi-staged production of My Fair Lady on Valentine’s weekend; The Music of The Rolling Stones and The Music of Michael Jackson; and A Celtic Celebration, complete with Irish step dancers.

Partnering with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to lead the most extensive education program of any symphony orchestra, NCS is dedicated to creating the next generation of classical music lovers. In addition to its education program for schools and students, the Symphony’s Young People’s Concerts offer opportunities for families to experience music together. The 2017/18 season includes Prokofiev’s classic musical story Peter and the Wolf with the Triangle Youth Ballet; a comedic introduction to the orchestra in The Listener; and the enchanting fairytale The Firebird with masks, magic, and puppetry, together with the music of Stravinsky. The interactive Young People’s Concerts are perfect for children ages three to 12, and include pre-concert fun such as the Instrument Zoo, where children can try out instruments of the orchestra; professional face-painting; photos with characters; and hands-on activities that meld music and science in partnership with Marbles Kids Museum.

Each summer, thousands in the community gather for music under the stars at Summerfest.  Presented by UNC REX Healthcare at the Symphony’s summer home, Koka Booth Amphitheater, Summerfest concerts offer classical masterworks and family-friendly concerts in a relaxed outdoor environment. Concertgoers spread out blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics beginning at 5:30 PM for the 7:30 PM concerts, and enjoy the picturesque natural surroundings (including Symphony Lake, which was named for NCS) and pre-concert activities such as the popular Instrument Zoo. Dates and details for 2017 Summerfest programs have now been announced on our Summerfest page.
NCS is dedicated to making classical music accessible to our entire community
, bringing music outside of the concert hall to engage new audiences. The Symphony will present innovative chamber music programs featuring NCS musicians, in partnership with community hot-spots and institutions. Soundbites at the Pub, at Raleigh restaurants, offers a multi-course meal followed by an intimate concert and discourse from the musicians about the music, at an affordable price. Concerts at Kings, curated by the performers, reflect the musical tastes of NCS musicians. Tickets are just $8 and the atmosphere is casual, with a mix of flexible theater-style seating, bar seating, and standing room; audience members enjoy drinks as they listen to the music. The Manning Chamber Music Series at William Peace University is presented free of charge to the general public with reserved seating. Continuing a collaboration with Quail Ridge Books in North Hills, Grant Llewellyn will offer his personal insights and provide a deeper understanding of the music he has programmed, in a series of free lectures. Dates and details for the above programs will be announced in the fall and throughout the season.

The Symphony engages students from all area colleges and universities through its Campus Club, a membership program that is free to join, offering $11 tickets for the best-available Section-A seats at Classical and Pops Series concerts. NCS’s young professionals program, CLUB 25/39, also with free membership, offers special events and discounts on select concerts throughout the season. Join the clubs at  

Concert series in Chapel Hill, Wilmington, New Bern, Southern Pines, and Fayetteville offer performances that include many of the programs performed in Raleigh, as well as programs and guest artists heard only in those communities. 2017/18 programs across the state will be announced in the spring.

Online: (TicketMaster fees apply)
By phone: 919.733.2750 ($8 processing fee applies)
In-person: NCS State Headquarters Offices (3700 Glenwood Ave., Suite 130, Raleigh)

NCS offers numerous subscription (season tickets and packages) options for the Classical Series, Pops Series, Friday Favorites, and Young People’s Concerts, including the flexible “My Mix” package. For information about subscription options, visit or call 919.733.2750. Subscriptions are on sale now. Single-tickets (individual shows within these series) will be available for purchase on August 7 at 10 AM.   

CLASSICAL SERIES at Meymandi Concert Hall
* indicates that this program, or a version of this program, is included on the Friday Favorites noontime concerts; see individual concert pages (linked in each title) for further details.

An Evening of Rachmaninoff | September 22-23, 2017

The Symphony opens its 2017/18 season with an eagerly anticipated return appearance by the striking and dynamic pianist Natasha Paremski, who first wowed NCS audiences at 2016 Summerfest. Paremski will perform Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini on this all-Rachmaninoff program conducted by Grant Llewellyn, which also includes NCS’s first performance of the symphonic poem The Rock, as well as the lush, lively Symphonic Dances—the composer’s final work.

Northern Lights | October 6, 2017
Grant Llewellyn is particularly passionate about this Nordic-themed program. Sibelius described the breathtakingly beautiful Symphony No. 2 as “a confession of the soul” and early on it was hailed by a critic as "An absolute masterpiece, one of the few symphonic creations of our time that point in the same direction as the symphonies of Beethoven." For the first time in its history, NCS performs Sibelius’ tone poem En Saga—another intensely personal musical statement—of which the composer wrote “in no other work have I revealed myself so completely.” The program is completed with the sanguine tone poem Apotheosis, one of the most popular works of Einojuhani Rautavaara, who died in July 2016 and is considered the finest Finnish composer since Sibelius.

Beethoven & Mendelssohn | October 20-21, 2017
NCS and Grant Llewellyn welcome 27-year-old violinist Benjamin Beilman—praised by the chief music critic of The New York Times for his “dark chocolate sound and lyricism”—for the spellbinding Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. The serene spirit of Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony is contrasted with the driving, John Adams-like energy of Wojciech Kilar’s Orawa, a fun romp for string orchestra. Both works are based in nature: Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony evokes everything from a country landscape, to birdcalls, to a rainstorm, while Kilar’s Orawa alludes to the river flowing between Poland and Slovakia (the Orava) and a highland meadow where sheep graze (an

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 | November 3-4, 2017 *
Appearing regularly with the world’s greatest orchestras and noted for his impeccable technique and delicate expression, pianist Simon Trpčeski performs Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, one of the best-loved concertos in the repertoire. Marcelo Lehninger, who first conducted NCS in the 2015/16 season, returns for this upbeat program, which also includes slections from Dvořák’s cheerful Symphony No. 8 and Kristin Kuster’s MOXIE—immediately festive in mood, composed as a tribute to Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop.

Mozart Requiem | November 17-18, 2017
Known for bringing a fresh approach to repertoire staples, Douglas Boyd leads NCS in Mozart’s storied final work, the deeply affecting Requiem—together with soprano Mireille Asselin, mezzo-soprano Sofia Selowsky, tenor Thomas Cooley, baritone Philip Cutlip, and the Symphony’s resident chorus, the North Carolina Master Chorale. NCS gives its first performance of Vaughan Williams’ “Pastoral” Symphony, a beautiful and evocative elegy for lives lost in World War I.  

Baroque Masters | December 1-2, 2017 *
Grant Llewellyn returns to North Carolina for the holidays, conducting Baroque Masters with NCS and the North Carolina Master Chorale. The all-Baroque program includes Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and selections from the Christmas Cantatas, as well Bach’s popular Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, which has never before been performed by the Symphony. Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Horns spotlights NCS’s husband-and-wife pair, Christopher Caudill and Rachel Niketopoulos, performing on natural horns.  

Pictures at an Exhibition | January 12-13, 2018
Rune Bergmann, recently appointed as Music Director of the Calgary Philharmonic, makes his NCS debut with a program that showcases his skill in two contrasting styles. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, with its cheerful spirit after a mysterious introduction, often nods to Haydn. Mussorgsky’s 10-part suite Pictures at an Exhibition, inspired by a series of drawings by a Russian architect who had recently passed away, is a poignant tribute to the composer’s dear friend—at times light and charming and at times profoundly emotional.

Schubert’s Unfinished | January 26-27
The Grammy-nominated violinist Philippe Quint, lauded for his “searing poetic lyricism” (The Daily Telegraph) and dedication to a wide range of musical styles, performs Bernstein’s violin concerto, Serenade—one of his most lyrical works. Joining in a worldwide centennial celebration of the iconic conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, NCS and Grant Llewellyn also perform his jazz-tinged ballet suite Fancy Free.  Schubert’s mysterious and mesmerizing “Unfinished” Symphony completes the program.

Dvořák Serenade for Strings | February 2, 2018 *
(Friday Favorites only)
NCS and Grant Llewellyn explore the beauty and wide range of expression in music for string orchestra. The joyful Serenade for Strings echoes the happiness Dvořák was enjoying as a newlywed and new father when he composed this piece in 1875. Kilar’s nature-inspired Orawa is in a minimalist style with high-energy rhythms, while Higdon’s jaunty To the Point is a response to string quartets by the Impressionist composers Debussy and Ravel. The Concerto for Bass and Strings—a new work by NCS’s own Bass Trombone player, Terry Mizesko—receives its world premiere with NCS Principal Bass Leonid Finkelshteyn as soloist.

Symphonic Stories | February 9-10, 2018
Under Grant Llewellyn, NCS and the North Carolina Master Chorale join forces to weave narratives through majestic choral works, including Ravel’s famous suite from the ballet Daphnis et Chloé—a passionate Greek love story evoked through sumptuous harmonies. In celebration of Bernstein’s centennial, NCS gives its first performance of the Chichester Psalms—a hopeful and life-affirming setting of Biblical Psalms, sung in Hebrew, and featuring a transfixing solo for boy soprano.

Dvořák Cello Concerto | March 2-3, 2018
Domingo Hindoyan, who has led many of Europe’s greatest orchestras and debuts with The Metropolitan Opera in the 2017/18 season, makes his first appearance with NCS for a program of Dvořák and Prokofiev. Cellist Johannes Moser released a recording of the Dvořák Cello Concerto in 2015 and brings his “top-notch” interpretation (Gramophone magazine, Editor’s Choice) to North Carolina. The concerto is paired with Prokofiev’s uplifting Symphony No. 5, which was praised by Serge Koussevitzky—who led the Boston Symphony in the American premiere—as “the greatest musical event in many, many years. The greatest since Brahms and Tchaikovsky!”

Mendelssohn Scottish Symphony | March 10, 2018 and April 20, 2018 *
Throughout history, composers have been inspired by travels. The impetus for Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony was castle ruins that he saw in Scotland. Saint-Saëns frequently vacationed in Egypt and wrote his “Egyptian” Piano Concerto among the temples; Alessio Bax—whom The New York Times calls “a pianist worth getting excited about”—returns to NCS for this exotic work. Missy Mazzoli was in awe of Detroit the first time she visited. Afterward, an image of the River Rouge Plant and the concept of the “transformation of grit and noise … into something massive, resonant, and unexpected” led to her techno-influenced River Rouge Transfiguration. Elim Chan, the first female winner of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition, leads this wide-ranging program.

Fountains & Pines of Rome | March 23-24, 2018 *
Performing with all of the major London and BBC orchestras, British conductor Ben Gernon makes his first NCS appearance with Respighi’s masterpieces Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome, depicting fountains and pine trees across the Italian city at various times of day. NCS Concertmaster Brian Reagin is featured in Bruch’s most famous composition, the Violin Concerto No. 1. Nico Muhly, one of the best known composers of the younger generation, wrote Mixed Messages for The Philadelphia Orchestra; The Philadelphia Inquirer’s music critic praised it as a “knock-out orchestral showpiece that does the work of a Berlioz overture but in 21st-century post-minimalist terms.”

Brahms Symphony No. 4 | April 13-14, 2018
David Danzmayr, known for drawing the best out of the musicians he conducts, takes the podium for a program rooted in the theme of darkness and light. Brahms’ powerful final symphony exudes a sense of deep yearning, punctuated with moments of intense energy. Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 finds an elegant mix of melancholy and brightness, and is performed by Angelo Xiang Yu—winner of the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition. Known to many local audiences for her work Hiraeth—which was inspired by childhood memories of Salisbury, North Carolina—composer Sarah Kirkland Snider describes Something for the Dark as a “mediation on renewal.”

Romeo & Juliet | April 27-28, 2018
Continuing an exciting partnership that first brought North Carolina audiences A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2015, NCS is joined by actors from the UNC School of the Arts for a semi-staged production of the greatest love story ever told. Conducted by Grant Llewellyn and directed by Carl Forsman, this unique production of Romeo and Juliet will draw on music from the ballet by Prokofiev and fantasy overture by Tchaikovsky.

A Hero’s Life |
May 18-19, 2018
Grant Llewellyn leads NCS in Strauss’ monumental tone poem Ein Heldenleben (“A Hero’s Life”). Showcasing the technical prowess of many of the orchestra’s musicians—in addition to an extensive violin solo, to be performed by Concertmaster Brian Reagin—this work is considered a pinnacle of the repertoire. It is contrasted with Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night”), an intimate work for chamber orchestra in the composer’s early Romantic style, inspired by Richard Dehmel’s poem about a woman who reveals to her lover that she is carrying another man’s child.

Online: (TicketMaster fees apply)
By phone: 919.733.2750 ($8 processing fee applies)
In-person: NCS State Headquarters Offices (3700 Glenwood Ave., Suite 130, Raleigh)

NCS offers numerous subscription (season tickets and packages) options for the Classical Series, Pops Series, Friday Favorites, and Young People’s Concerts, including the flexible “My Mix” package. For information about subscription options, visit or call 919.733.2750. Subscriptions are on sale now. Single-tickets (individual shows within these series) will be available for purchase on August 7 at 10 AM.   

POPS SERIES at Meymandi Concert Hall
* indicates that a version of this program is also included on the Friday Favorites noontime concerts;
see individual concert pages (linked in each title) for further details.

Classic Pops | October 13-14, 2017 *
Grant Llewellyn creates an evening of classic pops favorites in the style of the acclaimed Boston Pops—which he conducted in the early 1990s. This program reveals the timeless appeal of light classical gems and feel-good show-tune arrangements.

Christmas with the Callaways | December 15-16, 2017
Saturday Sponsor: Galloway Ridge at Fearrington
Tony-nominated Broadway stars and sisters Liz Callaway and Ann Hampton Callaway put family spirit into this joyous holiday celebration. Selections include “The Christmas Song,” “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” and many more.

The Music of The Rolling Stones | January 19-20, 2018
NCS celebrates
one of the most iconic rock groups in history, collaborating with a full rock band and singer Brody Dolyniuk to deliver symphonic arrangements of The Rolling Stones’ greatest hits—“Satisfaction,” “Paint It, Black,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Angie,” and many more legendary songs.

 “My Fair Lady” in Concert | February 16-17, 2018
On Valentine’s weekend, NCS presents a semi-staged version of one of America’s favorite musicals, My Fair Lady. A seven-person cast of Broadway singers takes the stage in costume, with NCS performing Andre Previn’s rich symphonic orchestration of Frederick Loewe’s beloved score.

A Celtic Celebration | March 16-17, 2018
Joined by Irish step dancers, a traditional Irish instrumentalist, two vocalists, and an actor, NCS will traverse a wide range of Irish and Celtic repertoire with elegance and dramatic flair.

Kruger Brothers | May 11-12, 2018
The Kruger Brothers, based in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, represent the spirit of exploration at the core of the American musical tradition. Trained in classical and jazz—and having traveled the world with their unique fusion of folk and classical—The Kruger Brothers make their NCS subscription debut with their home-state Symphony.

Online: (TicketMaster fees apply)
By phone: 919.733.2750 ($8 processing fee applies)
In-person: NCS State Headquarters Offices (3700 Glenwood Ave., Suite 130, Raleigh)

NCS offers numerous subscription (season tickets and packages) options for the Classical Series, Pops Series, Friday Favorites, and Young People’s Concerts, including the flexible “My Mix” package. For information about subscription options, visit or call 919.733.2750. Subscriptions are on sale now. Single-tickets (individual shows within these series) will be available for purchase on August 7 at 10 AM.  

YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONCERTS at Meymandi Concert Hall
Young People’s Concerts are preceded by family-fun activities such as the Instrument Zoo, professional face-painting, photos with characters, and hands-on activities that meld music in science in partnership with Marbles Kids Museum.

Peter and the Wolf | October 28-29, 2017
NCS and the Triangle Youth Ballet bring Prokofiev's timeless story of bravery and teamwork to life through playful music, colorful costumes, and beautiful dance. Children will be enchanted as Peter and his animal friends—each represented by a different instrument of the orchestra—work together to catch the wolf and march him triumphantly to the zoo. Taking place just before Halloween, this concert also features fun, spooky works, and concludes with young audience members marching in the Symphony’s costume parade. NCS musicians are sure to dress up as well!

The Listener | January 6, 2018
This hilarious show explores the antics that ensue when two audience members decide to join a performance on stage: a musical face-off between a bugle and trumpet, tap-dancing to ballet, and more. With humor, drama, and dance, children will learn about the orchestra and its music, plus the important part that the audience plays through the art of listening.

The Firebird | April 7, 2018
Complete with puppetry, masks, shadow play, and magic, this imaginative adaptation of Russian folklore tells of a prince, a beautiful princess and her magical unicorn, and the mystical, majestic Firebird. Young audiences will witness Prince Ivan defeat the evil magician who has conjured a terrible storm, while they discover the evocative music composed by Igor Stravinsky for his cherished ballet The Firebird.


Special Concerts are some of the NCS’s most anticipated performances of the season. These shows, taking place at Meymandi Concert Hall, are available to subscribers for purchase now; they go on sale to the general public August 7 at 10 AM.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas | November 22, 2017
Concert Sponsor: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Hearts will grow three sizes the day before Thanksgiving! Every Who in Who-ville, tall and small, is invited as actors and singers join the Symphony for the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas—together with more holiday favorites. Santa will make an appearance in the lobby—perfect for holiday card photos—and kids will also enjoy activities presented by Marbles Kids Museum, face painting, and the popular Instrument Zoo, beginning one hour before the concert.


“Home Alone” in Concert | November 24-25, 2017
NCS performs the Home Alone soundtrack live alongside a screening of this hilarious and heart-warming holiday movie. Experience the 1990 classic starring Macaulay Culkin—and its delightful score by renowned film composer John Williams—like never before.


A Candlelight Christmas | December 17, 2017
The Symphony’s tremendously popular Candlelight Christmas returns for a second year. Meymandi Concert Hall will be aglow with hand-held lights and luminaries as NCS and the Raleigh Children’s Christmas Chorus perform traditional hymns, carols, and classical selections.


New Year’s Eve Celebration Concert | December 31, 2017
NCS introduces a brand new show to welcome 2018. Raise a glass and ring in the new year in style, with the unparalleled sound of a full symphony orchestra.


The Music of Michael Jackson | March 8, 2018
From his early years with the Jackson 5, to his mega-hit album Thriller and beyond, Michael Jackson stormed the music industry with hit after hit. The Music of Michael Jackson takes audiences through each era of his remarkable career. Joined by a singer, NCS performs orchestrations of favorite songs, from “ABC” and “I'll Be There,” to “Beat It,” “Thriller,” “Rock with You,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and many more.


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