The 13th season of the IRIS Orchestra promises to be bold and beautiful, but also the shortest.
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 acclaimed violinists by American composer Anna Clyne.
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.
In the early years IRIS offered as many as eight concerts annually. As the economy waned, it cut back, having only five in the 2009-2010 season but has had six in the two seasons since.
But the economy is still taking a toll on performing groups, so the cutback 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.
2012-2013 IRIS 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."