Concerts & Tickets

YOUR MUSIC, YOUR ORCHESTRA | The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra’s commitment to world-class performances of the greatest music ever written is our history and our future. Mozart, Ravel, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, and more – will be played in wonderful live performances by the talented musicians of the RSO during our 2017-18 Season. Concerts are held in the Anne S. Richardson Auditorium at Ridgefield High School, 700 North Salem Road, Ridgefield CT 06877 and at the Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge Road in Ridgefield, CT 06877. Concerts begin at 8:00pm.

Purchasing tickets is convenient! View the seating chart below to see section areas and pricing. Order online, call the RSO Box Office at 203-438-3889 or buy tickets in person at the RSO Office. We are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm and are located at 77 Danbury Road in Ridgefield.

2017-18 Season

Conductors & Guest Artists

About Yuga Cohler

28-year-old Yuga Cohler is an internationally renowned orchestral conductor and cultural innovator. Appointed music director of the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Chamber Orchestra in 2015, he came to national attention with his creation of The Great Music Series, a concert series that explores the elements common to massively popular music and works from the classical canon. The first installation of the series, a comparison of the works of Kanye West and Beethoven entitled Yeethoven, was hailed as a work of “musical genius,” and received widespread attention from such media outlets as the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and the Huffington Post.

Mr. Cohler also enjoys a close relationship with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he has appeared in concert on Japanese national television. He recently completed a sold-out international tour with them featuring the international rockstar Yoshiki, which concluded with two performances in Carnegie Hall. Mr. Cohler has additionally appeared as a guest conductor with the Juilliard and New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestras, and served as cover conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

As a recipient of the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship, Mr. Cohler studied with New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert at the Juilliard School. He is currently among the top four candidates of the Toscanini International Conducting Competition, and will return to Italy in the fall to conduct the Filharmonica Toscanini in concert for the final rounds. Among the other accolades granted to Mr. Cohler are the Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S., the Ansbacher Fellowship from the American Austrian Foundation, the Charles Schiff Conducting Award from the Juilliard School, and the David McCord Prize for Artistic Excellence from Harvard University. He has been awarded fellowships to some of the most prestigious musical institutions in the country, including the Aspen Music Festival and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, and has additionally studied at the Tanglewood Music Center.

A skilled interpreter of modern music, Mr. Cohler was selected by composer John Adams to perform a program of modern American orchestral music at Carnegie Hall, where the New York Times lauded his “strong rendition” of Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto. Currently a Director of the Asia / America New Music Institute, Mr. Cohler has performed world premieres at the Beijing Modern Music Festival, the Asian Composer’s League in Seoul, the Okinawa University for the Arts, and the Peabody Essex Museum.

Mr. Cohler is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, where he studied computer science. His senior thesis, Optimal Envy-Free Cake-Cutting, has been cited by over 50 articles in the academic literature. As an advocate for the integration of art music into mainstream culture, Mr. Cohler runs State of Art, a blog about American music without preconceptions of genre or quality.


About Julian Schwarz

Julian Schwarz was born to a multigenerational musical family in 1991. Heralded from a young age as a cellist destined to rank among the greatest of the 21st century, Julian’s powerful tone, effortless virtuosity, and extraordinarily large color palette are hallmarks of his style.

In 2013 Mr Schwarz won 1st prize in the professional cello division of the Schoenfeld International String Competition in Hong Kong, and in 2016 won 1st prize at the Boulder International Chamber Music Competition’s “The Art of Duo” with Canadian pianist Marika Bournaki.

After making his concerto debut at the age of 11 with the Seattle Symphony and his father, Gerard Schwarz on the podium, he has led an active career as soloist. Recent and upcoming debuts include the Buffalo and Rochester Philharmonics, Camerata Chicago, Symphony Silicon Valley, and the Toledo, Jacksonville, Charleston, Tuscon, Amarillo, San Antonio, Des Moines, Charlotte, and West Virginia Symphonies. Return engagements include the Hartford and Springfield (MA) Symphonies, Northwest Sinfonietta, Lake Union Civic Orchestra, Symphoria (Syracuse NY), and the Boca Symphonia. Internationally, he made his Australian debut with the Queensland Symphony, his Mexican debuts with the Boca del Rio Symphony in Veracruz and the Mexico City Philharmonic with frequent collaborator Jorge Mester, and his Hong Kong debut at the Intimacy of Creativity Festival. He has also appeared at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and the Verbier festival in Switzerland.

As a recitalist, he has performed at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, the Rosenegg Castle in Steyr Austria, on the Embassy Series in Washington DC, at the National Arts Club, and in Palm Springs, CA. Mr. Schwarz will embark on an extensive 10-recital tour of China in March 2017, and will make debuts for the Musical Club of Hartford and the University Club. An avid chamber musician, he is a member of the New York based Frisson Ensemble, the New York Classical Players, the Solisti Ensemble, and the Mile-End Trio with violinist Jeff Multer and pianist Marika Bournaki. He performs frequently at Bargemusic in Brooklyn, and has been the featured young artist at both the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival and the Seattle Chamber Music Festival.

Julian Schwarz is an avid supporter of new music, and often commissions new, exciting works to enhance the cello repertoire. He has premiered concertos by Richard Danielpour, Samuel Jones (recorded with the All Star Orchestra for public television in 2012, subsequently released as a DVD on Naxos), and will give the world premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s first Cello Concerto with a consortium of five orchestras in the 17-18 season. Other premieres include the US Premiere of Dobrinka Tabakova’s Cello Concerto with the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra, and recital works by Paul Frucht, Gavin Fraser, Ren Damin, and Gerard Schwarz. On record, the Schwarz-Bournaki duo has recorded Bright Sheng’s “Northern Lights” for Naxos, the complete cello/piano works by Ernest Bloch for the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, and will release a debut recital album in summer 2017.

A devoted teacher, Mr. Schwarz serves as Asst. Professor of Cello at Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University (Winchester, VA). Other faculty appointments include the Eastern Music Festival (Greensboro, NC), Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (Nova Scotia, Canada), and faculty teaching assistant to Joel Krosnick at The Juilliard School.

Mr. Schwarz studied at the Academy of Music Northwest, the Colburn School with Ronald Leonard, and received both BM and MM degrees from The Juilliard School where he studied with mentor Joel Krosnick. Other influential teachers include David Tonkonogui, Toby Saks, Lynn Harrell, Neal Cary, and chamber music studies with Andre Roy, Arnold Steinhardt, Jonathan Feldman, Toby Appel and Paul Coletti. Julian plays on a Neapolitan cello made by Gennaro Gagliano in 1743, is an active contributor to Strings Magazine’s Artist Blog, and sits on the music committee of the National Arts Club.

Program Notes

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Yuga Cohler, Conductor

Julian Schwartz, Soloist


Paul Frucht – Dawn

Elgar – Concerto for Cello

Rimsky-Korsakov – Scheherazade


Program Notes by Paul Frucht 

Dawn                                        Paul Frucht (1989 – )

(Dawn Hochsprung was the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School who gave her life trying to protect her students and teachers when she confronted the armed shooter who had barged into the school.)

Dawn Hochsprung was an incredible person I had the fortune of meeting when I was a student at Roger’s Park Middle School from 2000-2003 where she was an assistant principal. I worked with both her and her husband, George, as a member of National Junior Honor Society. When the tragic events occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th, 2012, I, like everyone else in the Danbury area, was shocked and deeply saddened. The Hochsprungs had always stuck out in my mind as not just outstanding teachers, but some of the most caring, genuine, and positive people that I had come across during my time growing up in Danbury. I felt immediately compelled to write something for Dawn’s family and also for the other families who lost loved ones.

I titled the piece Dawn not simply because it is dedicated to her, but because the nature of Dawn’s actions on the day of shooting are the inspiration for the character of this piece. When she became aware that her school was in danger, her immediate response was to protect the children of the school. She put herself in harm’s way in an entirely selfless act in an effort to save the lives of her students. Her legacy is one of selflessness, positivity, and extraordinary courage. This piece celebrates that legacy.


Program Notes by Courtenay Caublé

Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85                                        Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

The Elgar Cello Concerto is a glorious work that suffered the misfortune of a catastrophic first performance in 1919, when the poorly rehearsed orchestra gave it such a wretched showing that critics gave it mercilessly negative reviews. Fortunately, subsequent performances and judgments have righted the wrong. Unlike most of Elgar’s other works, which are generally cheerful or noble in style, the Cello Concerto is introspective in its mood, reflecting the despair and disillusionment that Elgar felt at the end of World War I, the so-called “War to End All Wars,” with all its death and destruction.

The first movement (Adagio -Moderoto) begins with a dramatic recitative and a brief cadenza for the solo instrument. The violas then sing the first theme, which is repeated and broadened into a more moving statement by the solo cello. The orchestra then restates the theme once more before moving to a more gently lyrical second theme before returning to the main theme, this time presented as a sort of remote, distant echo of its original nature.

Without a break, the first movement moves into the lively and more light­hearted second movement (Lento -Allegro mo/to), which is very much like a scherzo in effect, though not in meter.

The third movement (Adagio) both begins and ends with a quietly lyrical melody -a theme that dominates the entire movement, imbuing it with a sweetly nostalgic mood.

Then, with a sudden shift from major to minor tonality, there is a telling mood change as the Finale begins, once again without a pause between movements. Undergoing frequent changes in tonality, the main theme of the fourth movement seems restless, with somber undertones that lend it a nearly menacing quality. As the movement nears its conclusion, new themes are introduced at a slower tempo that becomes even slower until the musical flow stops entirely on a held chord. Then, as the concerto moves towards its closing measures, the beginning of the first movement is revisited with subtle alterations before the fourth movement’s main theme returns, moving with mounting tension to three final chords.

Scheherazade, Op. 35                                        Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)

Although inspired by Arabian stories, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade is entirely Russian in its “oriental” overtones. Held together by the lovely Scheherazade theme played by a solo violin that introduces each segment, the work’s semi-programmatic structure is based on the story of Sche­herazade herself.

According to the well-known story, the Sultan Shariyar, who had been betrayed by his first wife, had had her executed and had vowed to marry a new wife every day thereafter and then execute her after their wedding night. After hundreds of hapless young girls had consequently lost their heads during the ensuing three years, the clever girl Scheherazade, the Sultan’s Grand Vizier’s daughter, armed with a clever survival plan, persuaded her father to propose her as the Sultan’s next wife.

Her plan, which she immediately put into action, was to have her sister spend the wedding night in the apartment with the royal couple and in the morning ask Scheherazade to tell her a story. Scheherazade, with the Sultan also listening, was to do so, stopping before the end of the story and promising to reveal the ending the next night.

Rimsky-Korsakov commented that he did not intend to follow direct depictions of Scheherazade’s stories, but only “to slightly lead a listener’s imagination along the path that [his] fancy travelled”.

The first segment, The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship, introduces two contrasting themes. The first, a rather severe one heavily colored by brass instrumentation, suggests the uncompromising Sultan, and the second, a gracefully flowing violin song introduced by woodwinds, calls to mind the innocent Scheherazade. Rimsky himself described the two themes, pointing out that they are “purely musical material” and that they recur repeatedly throughout the entire work, each time under different moods and “corresponding each time to different images, actions, and pictures.” In the first movement the two themes weave along over a rocking third melody that suggests the ocean’s waves.

The main theme of The Tale of the Kalendar Prince (a prince who pretends to be a member of a tribe of wandering dervishes called Kalendars) is an oriental-sounding melody played sequentially by the full orchestra and a variety of solo instruments. Brass instruments introduce a second theme – a brisk march -that is interrupted by a lovely clarinet solo that calls to mind the whirling movements of the dervishes.

Lyrically romantic tunes colored by the sound of woodwinds, harp, and higher against lower strings weave contrapuntally through The Young Prince and the Young Princess, with the segment ending in quick figurations that seemingly dance away into the distance.

The lovely violin melody that represents Scheherazade introduces the final movement, which begins with an energetic dance theme enlivened by the sound of tambourine and cymbals that suggests The Festival at Baghdad. The dance becomes even more animated, with added punctuation from snare and bass drums before a brass fanfare leads into a reprise of some of the work’s earlier themes. The sound of the rise and fall of sea waves in the first movement is recalled until, with a crashing chord, The Ship Goes to Pieces on a Rock Surmounted by a Bronze Warrior. Then a sweeping return of the Sultan’s theme, also from the first movement, quietens, suggesting Shariyar’s mollified intentions, and the beautiful violin theme that represents the lovely Scheherazade returns to end her tale with a sequence of quiet harmonics over a broadly sustained chord.


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Seating Chart


2016-17 Concert Season & Reviews

A World of Possibilities October 1, 2016 – Barbara Yahr, Conductor

Read concert review here:


Celebrate! December 3, 2016 – Kevin Fitzgerald, Conductor

Read concert review here:

Heroic Masterpieces May 13, 2017 – Michael Lankester, Conductor

Read concert review here: