Editor's note: Due to an Erie Philharmonic programming change, this story has been updated to show a new feature performer for the Feb. 26 and March 19 shows. An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect address for patrons to purchase tickets.
When the Erie Philharmonic's 2022 season debuts in the renovated Warner Theatre on Jan. 23, the energy likely could equal the epic crescendo in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
The return of the Daniel Meyer-led orchestra during the grand reopening of the Warner — coupled with a performance by legendary pianist Emanuel Ax — has been a long time coming for the philharmonic, which has dealt with COVID-19 stoppages and construction delays that pushed back the theater's opening date.
"With how long these renovations have taken, this is really a powerful story for Erie," said Steve Weiser, the Philharmonic's executive director. "(Emanuel Ax) will also be performing on a brand-new Steinway piano that was purchased by the Philharmonic during COVID due to a very generous gift from Pete and Ellie Scibetta. This will be the new piano's debut performance, with a brand-new stage, new acoustical shell, new lights. ... It is really going to be a magical concert."
Here's what is in store for the Erie Philharmonic in 2022:
Emanuel Ax performs Chopin
• Jan. 23, 3 p.m.
Ax, who appeared for the first time with the Philharmonic in 2017, will be part of the grand reopening of the Warner, 811 State St., on Jan. 23 with a performance of Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on the theater's newly-delivered Steinway grand piano. Ax is scheduled to follow the Philharmonic's stirring opening of "Rapture" by American composer Christopher Rouse. The night's finale, Igor Stravinsky’s "The Firebird: Suite (1945)," is described as a Russian fairytale come to life on the stage.
'The Sorcerer’s Apprentice'
• Feb. 26, 8 p.m.
Renowned violinist Simone Porter returns to Erie for a performance on Feb. 26. Porter previously appeared at the Warner in March 2019.
The night begins with the Philharmonic performing Paul Dukas’ masterpiece, "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice," which was made famous in the Disney film "Fantasia" (1940) but has been performed for audiences since 1897. The night ends with Belgian organist and composer César Franck's surging Symphony in D.
Originally, northwestern Pennsylvania native and Grammy Award-nominee Cameron Carpenter was scheduled to make a return trip to the region to display his skill on the theater's new pipe organ with a rendition of Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings by Frenchman Francis Poulenc. The organ installation will not be complete in time for the scheduled performance by Carpenter, who was nominated for a Grammy in 2009 for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra) for his album "Revolutionary."
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3
• March 19, 8 p.m.
One of the most demanding concertos will be performed to end the show March 19 by a rising star on the world stage in concert pianist George Li. Li, who replaces originally scheduled Olga Kern, will interpret Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, a piece that includes fascinating melody and Russian soul. Li performs regularly with some of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.
The Philharmonic opens the night with "Along the Western Shore," a tribute to the sea by Los Angeles-based composer Elinor Remick Warren. The orchestra then will tackle Richard Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" by playing the "Prelude" and "Liebestod," combining the beginning and end of Wagner’s 5-hour opera.
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
• May 14, 8 p.m.
The world premiere of American composer Timothy Adams' "Harriet Tubman," which was commissioned by the philharmonic, opens the concert. Adams is the former principal timpanist of the Pittsburgh Symphony and current chair of the Percussion Department at the University of Georgia. His work, based on the life of Tubman, an abolitionist and political activist born into slavery, is scored for strings and percussion. The work is narrated by film, television and stage actor Harry Lennix.
Young saxophone virtuoso Steven Banks follows by playing the Alexander Glazunov Concerto for alto sax and string orchestra, coupled with the lively Concertino da Camera by Frenchman Jaques Ibert. The concert is scheduled to end with Beethoven’s iconic Seventh symphony.
• June 26, 3 p.m.
The finale of the Philharmonic's symphonic series on June 26 opens with new music by Chinese-born composer Zhou Tian. Titled "Rise," Tian's works is inspired by emotional diary entries of American soldiers during World War I. Mahler’s Second Symphony, "Resurrection," follows before the night ends with a performance that includes the Philharmonic's full chorus, with a soprano solo by Felicia Moore and mezzo soprano solo by Daryl Freedman.
Music of the Knights
• Jan. 29, 8 p.m.
The Philharmonic's Pops Series opens in January with a creation by producer Scott Coulter honoring three of Britain’s iconic songwriters in "Music of the Knights." Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney have been knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and are also three of the most successful songwriters of all time.
Coulter is the same producer who created the Aretha Franklin hit, “Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin,” that played to an Erie audience two years ago. The night honors the creations of the performers and composers, including "Memory," "Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina," "Your Song," "Yesterday," "Hey Jude" and more.
'Mary Poppins Live in Concert'
• April 9, 8 p.m.
• April 10, 3 p.m.
In April, "Mary Poppins" will be in Erie on the big screen. The high-definition projection of the original 1964 Disney classic film will include the Erie Philharmonic performing the score in real-time, live and synchronized with the film. The Philharmonic will have two weekend performances.
'Star Wars: A New Hope Live in Concert'
• April 30, 8 p.m.
• May 1, 3 p.m.
The Erie Philharmonic continues to delve into memorable movies, honoring director George Lucas' 1977 franchise-beginning film to "Star Wars," with an epic score provided by composer John Williams. The Philharmonic will "use the Force" to play the dramatic arrangements live, in synchronization with a viewing of the original film for two shows.
Rodgers & Hammerstein in Concert
• June 12 - 3 p.m.
The Pops season ends in June with Erie’s stage stars performing a tribute to celebrated Broadway musical theater duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. The musical revue show will span the greatest hits from Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, including "The Sound of Music," "Oklahoma," "The King & I," "Cinderella" and more.
If you go ...
Ticket prices range from $10 to $56 for most events and can be purchased at the Erie Phiharmonic's business office at 23 West 10th Street, Suite 3, online at eriephil.org or by calling 814-455-1375. Season passes are also available.
COVID-19 safety protocols for all Erie Philharmonic shows will include showing proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of performance date or an antigen test within 24 hours. A vaccination card or a photo of a vaccination card, along with a valid photo ID, also must be presented for entry. Patrons also are required to wear a face mask.
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Erie Philharmonic 2022 season: Live shows open with Emanuel Ax