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January is a big month for the PSO, from a conductorial debut to a world premiere to kid-friendly shows.

This time last year, the Portland Symphony Orchestra was in the late stages of a three-year search to replace departing music director Robert Moody. Now, the baton has been passed to Eckart Preu. During Preu’s tenure at the Spokane Symphony, he won praise for his adventurous programming, and he has a reputation for his stage presence: guest-conducting at the PSO in 2011, his robust gesticulating nearly capsized his podium during rehearsal. As Preu settles into the role, the orchestra kicks off the new year with similarly dynamic energy.

January 13. The year’s first kid-friendly Discovery Concert includes a winter-themed, 50-minute performance of Vivaldi and others, plus a hands-on “instrument petting zoo.”

January 19–20. William Waldrop, who recently led an orchestra in a Broadway revival of Cats, conducts PSO Pops (and a lineup of vocalists) in Women Rock, with songs from Carole King, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, and others.

January 27 & 29. Preu conducts his first show since getting the job (he’s also still wrapping his final season in Spokane, so his title here is music director designate for now). The program features two Russian classics, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Julietand Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, as well as the world premiere of a PSO-commissioned work by contemporary Hawaiian composer Michael-Thomas Foumai.

January 30. The PSO Brass Quintet does two short KinderKonzerts, using storytelling techniques to keep things interesting while introducing tykes to Bach, Brahms, and Haydn. Future fans for Preu’s players.

KinderKonzert shows are at Brunswick High School’s Crooker Theater (116 Maquoit Rd.). All other performances are at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium (20 Myrtle St.). 207-842-0800.
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