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

27-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 Orchestras.

As a recipient of the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship, Mr. Cohler studied with New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert at the Juilliard School. 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 in Salem, MA.

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.


Enjoy the Greatest Music Ever Written!

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Join us as a subscriber during the exciting 2016-17 Season! Call the RSO Ticket Office at 203-438-3889, Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

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:

Program Notes

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Heroic Masterpieces

Michael Lankester, Conductor

Adrian Daurov, Soloist


Glinka – Overture from Ruslan and Lyudmila

Shostakovich – Cello Concerto No. 1

Beethoven – Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”


Program Notes by Courtenay Caublé

Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila Mikhail Glinka

More than a century after Mikhail Glinka’s death, Igor Stravinsky commented, with persuasive justification, that “all Russian music sprang from him.” The heritage of Russian folk music and Byzantine chant cannot be discounted, of course; but the distinctive character and colorful orchestration of Glinka’s music arguably led the way for such great composers as Rimski-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, and Tchaikovsky, who established a distinctive Russian musical identity in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Glinka chose the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s most popular narrative poem, Ruslan and Ludmila, as the story source for his second opera, which he composed in 1842. The fairy tale plot, set in Pagan Russia, tells the story of the lovely Ludmila, the daughter of the Grand Duke of Kiev, who is desired by three suitors, one of them the heroic knight Ruslan, whom she chooses. Unfortunately, though, Ludmila is spirited away during their engagement party by evil spirits and delivered to the also evil dwarf Chernomor. Heroically overcoming various supernatural obstacles, Ruslan manages to reach his captured fiancée, but not before the wicked Chernomor has put her into a magical sleep. Ruslan takes her (still asleep) back to Kiev, where she is abducted once again, still asleep, by one of the rejected suitors. Ruslan hastens to the rescue yet again, though, and finding that the kidnapping suitor hasn’t been able to awaken her either, does so himself (with the aid of a magic ring), followed by rejoicing throughout the land.

One of the liveliest concert openers ever written, the Overture begins with forceful full-orchestra chords and dazzling scales that lead into two contrasting themes, both taken from the opera’s joyful final scene – the first an energetic march-like theme and the second the warmly passionate melody of an aria in which Ruslan praises the lovely Ludmila.

After a development and recapitulation of the thematic material, there is a coda in which an ominous descending whole-tone scale played by trombones that recalls the evil Chernomor seems to undermine the happy mood before the overture ends in uncompromised rejoicing.

Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat Major Dimitri Shostakovich

By 1959, when Shostakovich composed his Cello Concerto No. 1 for his close friend, the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, he was no longer being victimized by the attacks on his music as “excessively formalistic” during the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin; but the music arguably reflects evidence of the composer’s remembered stress and resentment, even with a tongue-in-cheek quotation in the final movement from Stalin’s favorite Georgian folksong, which he had also used in Rayok, his musical satire on the Soviet Union.

Even though the concerto’s score makes effective use of both a contrabassoon and a celeste, Shostakovich’s orchestra is a relatively small one, with only a single brass instrument – a French horn, which is also tellingly used in solo passages as well as in a sort of conversational partnership with the solo cello. There are also quite a few extended passages, especially in the second movement, where Shostakovich further limits his orchestration to only a small group of instruments in a way that conveys the effect of chamber music.

Although Shostakovich described the first movement (Allegretto) as a “fun-loving” or “humorous” march, critical consensus has judged it more frenzied than frolicsome. Like a repeated question followed by attempted answers, the musical content proceeds from contrasting themes presented as a four-note descending “motto” played twice followed by four notes that descend chromatically. The pursuit of possible answers to the troubling question then proceeds conversationally between the solo cello and the orchestra and also between the solo cello and the French horn that becomes an established relationship between the two instruments, with the French horn making a thematic point and the cello responding with its elaborations on it. Shostakovich uses the timpani here and there to punctuate the discussion and to end it.

The remaining three movements are played without pauses between them.

After a brief string introduction, the French horn intones the melancholy main theme of the second movement (Moderato) before the solo cello takes over to develop it conversationally with the strings and with a solo clarinet. The middle section of the three-part movement becomes increasingly restless before it leads back into the opening horn theme, this time played instead fortissimo by the full orchestra. Then the solo cello returns, its shimmering harmonics along with the sound of the celeste creating an ethereal mood before a quiet drum roll serves as a transition between the second movement and an extended transitional cadenza of so great a length (148 measures) that Shostakovich designated it as an additional movement, giving this concerto four movements rather than the traditional three.

Shostakovich skillfully uses the unusually long solo cadenza (Cadenza – Attacca) to amalgamate the entire concerto, with musical material from the second movement, reminders of the first movement, and foreshadowing of the intense rhythmic force of the finale.

In addition to providing the private joke with the tongue-in-cheek quotation from Stalin’s favorite folksong, the fourth movement (Allegro con moto) revisits the first movement’s frenzied mood, reinforced this time by loud protests from the timpani and strident upper-register shrieks from woodwinds. Then the solo horn returns, this time with the first movement’s four-note motto theme, to begin the coda, where themes from both the first and final movements come together along with a simultaneous virtuosic display of dazzling scales and octaves by the solo cello to being the concerto to a powerful conclusion.

Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major Ludwig van Beethoven

When Beethoven undertook the composition of his third symphony in 1803, his intention was to dedicate it to Napoleon Bonaparte, the French general who, in his opinion at the time, was a heroic champion of the French Revolution’s motivating values of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of justice. He almost certainly thought of Napoleon as a sort of modern Prometheus, the Greek mythological hero who brought the tool of fire to mankind because of his concern for the welfare of the human race. When he learned, however, after having finished and dedicated the symphony to Napoleon, that his heroic champion had declared himself Emperor of France, his disgust was so consuming that he ripped away the title page of the original score, scratched out Napoleon’s name from the cover page of the conducting score, and renamed the work Sinfonia Eroica, Composed to Celebrate the Memory of a Great Man.

There were a few appreciative reviews of the symphony’s first public performance in April of 1805; understandably, though, there was considerable negative reaction from the general musical public, particularly for the work’s “excessive length” and for “obviously deliberate violations of the rules of form and style.” The reason, of course, was that it was unlike anything that anyone had ever heard before.

What is termed “absolute music” (music for its own sake, which can be funny or happy or sad, but which was not intended as an expression of the composer’s feelings or thoughts) was the standard for the “classical” period (Haydn’s age) in the second half of the eighteenth century; and, for the most part, composers rather stringently followed set rules of form and harmony.

Many regard Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony both as the first undisputed eruption of Beethoven’s maturing personal style and as the harbinger of a movement away from a “classical” approach in favor of a “romantic” one to musical composition – one in which the aforementioned rules and forms would remain as guidelines but could be modified or even violated in the service of a composer’s extra-musical purposes, such as the expression of personal feelings or the musical expression of an idea or vision.

Instead of a customary “classical” introduction, the symphony’s first movement (Allegro con brio) begins with just two loud staccato E-flat Major chords followed by the movement’s first theme – a strong one (perhaps derived from the main theme of Beethoven’s ballet The Creatures of Prometheus) that follows the pattern or an E-flat triad but which, instead of moving to a harmonically predictable destination, must have shocked that first audience by landing on a clashingly unrelated C sharp – a discord that Beethoven sustains with a crescendo – a trick deliberately intended to create an unresolved tension that he will maintain throughout the entire movement’s development, with each of the themes appearances violating harmonic predictability by moving toward an unresolved tension point. The astonishing development eventually explodes in a dissonant climax unlike anything that anyone in that audience could have ever heard. Then, towards the end of the movement, Beethoven surely must have shocked his first audience even more disturbingly with yet another trick. There is a soft violin tremolo on a pitch that seems obviously intended to lead to a restatement of the theme; but before it resolves into the expected key, a single French horn timidly starts to play the theme. The audience, of course, must have thought that the poor horn player had just carelessly come in too soon. It was no mistake, though. It was just Beethoven’s way of making sure that the tension created in that opening appearance of the main theme would remain unrelieved.

One usually thinks of funeral marches as gloomy music meant to represent or evoke tearful grief over the loss of a human life. The Eroica Symphony’s beautiful second movement (Marcia funebre: Adagio assai) isn’t that sort of piece, though. Instead, it is more of an evocation of heroic grief – a solemn but thoughtfully felt reminder of a life fully lived, one that has left a treasured legacy. A somber repeated rhythmic figuration, which remains throughout the movement as an undercurrent, is soon overlaid by an also somber but lyrical and noble theme that might best be described as a musical lamentation without tears for heroes who lived their lives in the service of justice and freedom.

The spirited movement that follows the noble funeral march (Scherzo: Allegro vivace) instantly dispels heroic grief, though, in favor of unalloyed joie de vivre. The scherzo is replete with fun, laughter and sunlight – a sort of grateful tribute to lives made secure and joyful thanks to the heroic deeds of others.

In the magnificent Finale (Allegro molto), rushing strings and exuberant chords lead fortissimo to the movement’s first thematic element, a thirteen-note line of widely separated notes played pizzicato and very softly by strings which Beethoven expands and develops with two variations before overlaying and combining it with the Prometheus theme borrowed from his earlier ballet, The Creatures of Prometheus. After that, the movement proceeds in theme-and-variations form, with eleven variations and a coda, which in effect is an additional variation, totaling twelve, each one of them uniquely enjoyable and impressive. The effect of the Finale as a whole, though, is overwhelming – a formidable conclusion for a masterpiece that many consider Beethoven’s finest work.

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