Arts / Performing Arts

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s 2023-2024 Season Deserves Your Attention

There's a Wild Amount of Variety Happening in the Arts District

BY // 09.07.23

The Dallas Arts District can be a curious thing. On one hand, it’s the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation, filling its 118 acres with architectural wonders and institutions that lure top-tier artistic talent. On the other, it can feel a bit sleepy meandering down Pearl or Flora Street — a disconnect the city of Dallas is currently trying to address. That sense of detachment may hinder walkability, but it shouldn’t deter audiences from exploring the District’s truly exceptional performing arts programs, including the latest series from Fabio Luisi, the Grammy-winning maestro who succeeded Jaap van Zweden at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 2019.

With the DSO’s 2023-2024 season now officially underway, we spoke with Katie McGuinness, vice president of artistic operations, and Tom Brekhus, senior production and pops concerts manager, for a greater sense of the can’t-miss moments of the coming months, from the orchestral stalwarts to the more daring collaborations.

“Our guiding light throughout the season is to provide as much variety as possible,” shares McGuinness, who was putting the final touches on the 2024-2025 season as we spoke. “Our goal is to program great music — whatever category that fits into.”

Curvilinear geometry inside the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Photo by Nate Rehlander.
Curvilinear geometry inside the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Photo by Nate Rehlander.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra World Premieres

There are six new classical works taking the Meyerson stage throughout the 2023-2024 season, five of which are world premieres, and four of which are composed by women.

“Orchestral works are really growing to be more adventurous and flexible,” McGuinness says. “We have all of these cool new composers with different backgrounds and voices, which is beautifully balanced with things like Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, and other canonic, staples.”

JFK: The Last Speech

October 6, 7, and 8, 2023


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Though it’s not a world premiere, JFK: The Last Speech feels particularly significant to the city of Dallas, particularly with the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s passing taking place this year. The new work by African-American composer Dr. Adolphus Hailstork is inspired by the late President’s speech eulogizing poet Robert Frost at Amherst College in 1963.


October 12, 14 & 15, 2023

Following a performance of Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto by world-renowned Australian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder, Dallas will see the world premiere of Snapshots, a new orchestral work from Leonard Bernstein Award-winning composter and educator Jessie Montgomery.

“She’s one of the hottest living composers we have today,” McGuinness says. “Her music is so folk- and jazz-influenced… to call her a classical composer almost doesn’t do her justice.”

Concerto for Cello and Orchestra 

November 9, 11 & 12, 2023

Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits leads the DSO through works by two Ukrainian women composers, including a world premiere of Victoria Vita Polevá’s Cello Concerto.

“I completely fell in love with her writing,” McGuinness adds.

Year 2020

February 22-25, 2024

A reflective piece from local SMU professor Xi Wang features an unusual pairing — the trumpet and violin — and will be conducted by Fabio Luisi.

Piano Concerto

March 28-30, 2024

Following a Luisi-led performance of Gustav Mahler’s intense “Symphony No. 5” is the world premiere of Grammy-nominated New York composer Anna Clyne’s Piano Concerto, a “visceral and arresting” work from one of the most in-demand composers of today.


The Wagner Ring Cycle

Starting May 2024

Another notable highlight of DSO’s 2023-2024 season is an opera-in-concert version of Richard Wagner’s complete Der Ring des Nibelungen, also known as “The Ring Cycle,” with internationally renowned singers. Opportunities for opera lovers to attend private dinners, lectures, and be invited behind the scenes will be offered in tandem with the series.

“We can’t stress enough how huge it is that that is happening in our city,” McGuinness notes. “No orchestra has ever done the full Ring Cycle in a concert production like this ever before. And to be able to do it with Fabio Luisi, who won his first Grammy leading Wagner’s work at The Metropolitan Opera, we’re so lucky.”


The Pops Persists

Beyond the classics, DSO’s beloved Pops Program is always a draw. Managed by Tom Brekhus, who’s been with the symphony for 14 years, the series features big names (Lila Downs, Ben Folds, Amos Lee) and familiar soundtracks (Harry Potter, Amadeus).  

“We have a lot of trust with our audience,” Brekhus shares. “We’ve been able to put forth a lot of things that are a little unusual, and I’ve found that people have stuck with us and come out wanting more.”

Additional standouts include Finnish a cappella ensemble Rajaton, who will perform music by Queen, and a visit to the Meyerson by award-winning film composer Danny Elfman in celebration of the music he’s scored for Tim Burton films.

Dallas is lucky to have such a vibrant and diverse music offering. So much so that it’s easy to miss the tremendous impact the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is having in the community, but that’s a story for another time.

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