Shorter season for IRIS Orchestra

Jennifer Koh

Janette Beckman

Jennifer Koh

The 13th season of the IRIS Orchestra promises to be bold and beautiful, but it's also going to be the shortest one ever.

The four-concert 2012-2013 schedule is down from six this season, but the guest artists and programming are alluring.

In November, Jaime Laredo and Jennifer Koh perform Bach's Double Violin Concerto as well as the premiere of a work written for the two acclaimed violinists by American composer Anna Clyne.

Michael Stern

Photo by Mark Weber

Michael Stern

In February, violinist Gil Shaham returns to IRIS for the third time to perform the Brahms Violin Concerto. Shaham's popularity continues to grow, particularly in Memphis where he has made numerous appearances since his prodigy days two decades ago.

Pianist Jeffrey Kahane stars in May 2013, performing several pieces, including Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto.

The first concert of the season in October puts the spotlight on violinists in the orchestra, setting a theme for the season that will highlight various musicians in the group each concert.

Since its inception in 2000, IRIS musicians selected by artistic director and principal conductor Michael Stern have come from around the country to perform at the concerts, usually held at the Germantown Performing Arts Centre.

The four-concert schedule is the shortest IRIS has offered. In the early years it offered as many as eight concerts annually. As the economy waned, it cut back, having only five events in the 2009-2010 season but has had six concerts in the two seasons since.

But the economy is still taking a toll on performing groups, so the cutback in number of performances was necessary, said executive director and percussionist David DePeters.

"We always look at how to present the best concerts we can in an affordable way," he said. "We've cut back before based on how we anticipate things will go in the next year. That's one of our strengths, that we can have a flexible schedule and still provide great performances and guest artists as well as continuing our community outreach efforts."

New subscribers who sign up this week can get a free ticket to the last concert of this season, featuring pianist Andre Watts performing Saturday at GPAC.

For more information, go to irisorchestra.org or call (901) 751-7669.

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IRIS Orchestra's 2012-2013 lineup

Oct. 13 -- Featuring IRIS violinists: Vivaldi Concert for Four Violins; Schubert Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished); Schumann Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish).

Nov. 3 -- Jaime Laredo and Jennifer Koh, violin. Elgar: Serenade in E minor; Bach Double Violin Concerto; Anna Clyne: Double Violin Concerto (world premiere); Mendelssohn Octet.

Feb. 16, 2013 -- Gil Shaham, violin. Martin: Concerto for 7 Winds, Percussion and Strings; Sibelius: Symphony No. 3; Brahms Violin Concerto.

May 4, 2013 -- Jeffrey Kahane, piano. All Beethoven program: Quintet for Piano and Winds; Concerto No. 4, Symphony No. 1.

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