Francesco Lecce-Chong began as Music Director of the Santa Rosa Symphony last season, but because he’d just been named the previous spring, he wasn’t able to lead the full season of concerts, or program the repertoire. For this season’s first series of concerts this Saturday through Monday, he pairs two works inspired by outer space, a Beethoven piano concerto, and shows his belief in contemporary works.

There’s more information at the Santa Rosa Symphony website.

“The thing I dreamed about being a music director, and I think so many conductors do dream about is the idea that you have a chance to curate. You have a chance to present music, and the possibilities are endless,” Lecce-Chong says. “Of course also it’s the dream come true, because I have spent every year since I was 20, so it’s been 12 years of just thinking about the kind of music I’d want to conduct, the kind of programs I’d want to put together, and of course going to tons of orchestra concerts and getting ideas from that.” For this program, he has Garrick Ohlsson as soloist for the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4. “You really want someone that has had time to kind of digest… not only that piece, but just music in general. And bringing all of that into a concerto like Beethoven’s Fourth… It’s so much fun to approach that piece with someone who is… I’m sure I’m gonna learn a lot from. That was kind of my idea. I want to work with a soloist where I’m going to learn something, and I know I will. So I’m very excited about that.” And this will also be the audience’s first opportunity to get to know the ‘First Symphony’ project composer-in-residence, Matt Browne. “Matt approaches his music… I mean, it is so clearly modern, but it is so fun. He writes music that makes you chuckle…  How the Solar System Was Won is almost sort of like a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which of course meant that I wanted to pair it with Also Sprach Zarathustra, the actual music in 2001: A Space Odyssey. So I think it will be a fun pairing, and I think the community will just fall in love with him. And the idea is to have him here this week, and then see him as he launches this major new work that he’s preparing for spring.”