2015 Director’s Choice

Curating and assembling a 17-day musical arts festival is a gratifying, challenging and lengthy endeavor that results in bringing together more than 500 artists in our hospitable city. While some of the events slated for SMF ’15 were scheduled more than two years ago, others were confirmed only days before our season announcement. Collectively, they reflect musical history, tradition and entertainment, and our festival serves up something for nearly every fan of live music.


The following list comprises a small selection of what I believe will be outstanding musical experiences at the festival, many of which are one-time only artistic gatherings in Savannah. Most of these events offer amazing artistry in an intimate setting with some good seating choices still available. But with spring just around the corner, now is the time to act!


Rob Gibson
Executive & Artistic Director


Special Ticket Deal

Receive 10% off when you purchase three or more 2015 Director’s Choice concerts.

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Please call the box office at 912.525.5050 if you are purchasing varying numbers of tickets to each show or for additional assistance in applying your ticket discount.

Daniel Hope & Friends

In the eleven years that SMF Associate Artistic Director Daniel Hope has been bringing European and American colleagues to Savannah, his own international fame has skyrocketed. Daniel’s extraordinary musical activism continues to garner numerous awards and accolades, and in the past few months alone he: received the EDISON Music Award in Utrecht, Holland (an annual Dutch music prize awarded for outstanding achievement in music and one of the oldest music awards in the world); devised and premiered a new music theatre work at Carnegie Hall; performed for Germany’s President and Chancellor at the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall; released his new Deutsche Grammophon recording; toured across Europe and Asia. Savannah is the only place he stays in one spot for three weeks during the year, but even here he is relentless. Daniel’s upcoming SMF schedule is incredibly diverse, and each concert offers a fabulous theme and program.


Get your tickets:

Chamber Music I: Around Beethoven
> Thursday, March 19 at 6pm


Chamber Music II: Orchestral Masterworks by Mozart & Mendelssohn
Saturday, March 21 at 3pm


Chamber Music III: Brahms & His Influences
Monday, March 23 at 6pm


Chamber Music IV: Early Masters
Monday, March 23 at 6pm


Chamber Music VI: Emerson String Quartet with Daniel Hope & Friends
Monday, March 30 at 6pm


Chamber Music VII: Vive la France
Tuesday, March 31 at 11am


Chamber Music X: Passionate Piano Quartets
Saturday, April 4 at 3pm


Friday, March 20 and Sunday, March 22

Puccini’s Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi

For the past dozen years people have asked: “when is SMF going to produce an opera?” That moment has arrived, and it will begin with one of opera’s most beloved composers: Puccini. In this first-ever collaboration with the Savannah Voice Festival and the Savannah Philharmonic, we are pleased to produce two one-act operas: a tragedy (Suor Angelica) and a comedy (Gianni Schicchi), each of which premiered at The Metropolitan Opera nearly 100 years ago. We’re going all out with this production, and it will definitely be something Savannah has never seen.

Get your tickets:

Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi

> Friday, March 20 at 7:30pm

> Sunday, March 22 at 2pm


Saturday, March 21 through Monday, March 23

Come Rain or Come Shine

As the Savannah community continues to prosper in many ways, a host of musicians have proceeded in making it their new home. The arrival of singers Kurt Ollmann and J.J. Hobbs to Savannah this year ignited the idea for an original cabaret production that we’re calling “Come Rain or Come Shine.” While we’ve presented numerous cabaret shows through the years, this one promises to be dramatic, comical, entertaining and original. Working with the wonderful soprano Rebecca Flaherty, Ollmann (who recorded “West Side Story” with Leonard Bernstein, Jose Carreras, Kiri Te Kanawa and Marilyn Horne) and Hobbs (who has worked with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Opera Company and Atlanta Opera) have all of us very excited about this show.

Get your tickets:

Come Rain or Come Shine

> Saturday, March 21 at 5pm

> Saturday, March 21 at 7:30pm

> Sunday March 22 at 5pm

> Sunday, March 22 at 7:30pm

> Monday, March 23 at 12:30pm


Monday, March 24 and Tuesday, March 25

The Barr Brothers/
The Apache Relay

For those having withdrawal symptoms after Savannah Stopover, these two outstanding exponents of folk-rock will be paired on consecutive evenings for another only-in-Savannah double bill. Hailing from Montreal, The Barr Brothers’ music is full of energy and creativity that is delivered with inspiration and optimism. The Apache Relay play a hybrid of indie-folk music infused with a soulful sound that has gradually been seeping into pop, but in a way that feels completely unpretentious.

Get your tickets:

The Barr Brothers/
The ApacheRelay

> Monday, March 23 at 7:30pm

> Tuesday, March 24 at 7:30pm


Piano Recitals

One of my favorite things about living in NYC for a dozen years was the regular access it offered to experience amazing piano recitals. Though SMF has presented some of the world’s finest pianists over the years, never before in one festival have we lined up such an extraordinary series of internationally acclaimed recitalists. With a Russian (Nikolai Lugansky), a Brit (Paul Lewis), an American (Murray Perahia), and a dual citizen of Britain & Australia (Stephen Hough), this series is truly a paradise for piano lovers. I couldn’t pick one over any of the others, but it’s guaranteed that I won’t miss a note at any of them.

Get your tickets:

Recitals I: Nikolai Lugansky, piano
> Sunday, March 22 at 6pm


Recitals III: Stephen Hough, piano
Friday, March 27 at 6pm


Recitals IV: Murray Perahia, piano
Saturday, March 28 at 3pm


Recitals V: Paul Lewis, piano
Wednesday, April 1 at 6pm


Wednesday, March 25 and Thursday, March 26

Warren Vaché Quintet/
Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet

Warren Vaché has long been a favorite trumpet player of mine, and his SMF appearance last year in the Ladies Sing the Blues program showcased his abilities as a wonderfully swinging sideman. Making his SMF debut as a leader with a remarkable quintet featuring tenor saxophone giant Houston Person, Warren will showcase the music of Benny Carter, one of the great masters in the annals of jazz. If that wasn’t enough, the first half of the concert will showcase the youngest member of the illustrious Marsalis clan, longtime SMF favorite Jason Marsalis. This occasion also marks Jason’s debut as leading his own group here, one in which he plays the vibraphone instead of drums. This concert is for jazz fans who value serious musicianship, sensitive phrasemaking and passionate swing.

Get your tickets:

Warren Vache Quintet plays Bud Powell/ Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet

> Wednesday, March 25 at 5:30pm

> Wednesday, March 25 at 8pm


Warren Vaché Quintet plays Benny Carter

> Thursday, March 26 at 12:30pm


Saturday, March 28

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Robert Spano, Music Director/Conductor
Lynn Harrell, cello

For their 10th consecutive festival appearance, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Robert Spano offer this lush and romantic program featuring two of the most popular works in the classical canon. Renowned cellist Lynn Harrell will perform the most famous Cello Concerto (Dvo?ák, Op. 104) in the repertoire, while Maestro Spano leads the ASO in Tchaikovsky’s 4th symphony, about which the composer wrote: “Never yet has any of my orchestral works cost me so much labour, but I’ve never yet felt such love for any of my things.” For lovers of symphonic music, this program is the crème de la crème.

Get your tickets:

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

> Saturday, March 28 at 8pm



Sunday, March 29 through Tuesday, March 31

Giants of Texas Swing:
Hot Club of Cowtown/
Asleep at the Wheel

If you like good time music that is both danceable and thoroughly entertaining, this one-time only double bill is for you. “Western swing” is essentially a subgenre of American country music that came about in the 1920s, which blends jazz, cowboy, folk and blues styles. The “King of Western Swing” was Bob Wills (and his band, the Texas Playboys), but the tradition continues and the two finest contemporary groups moving it forward are paired on this series of concerts in the intimate confines of the Charles H. Morris Center.

Get your tickets:

Giants of Texas Swing: Hot Club of Cowtown/Asleep at the Wheel

> Sunday, March 29 at 4:30pm

> Sunday, March 29 at 7pm

> Monday, March 30 at 5pm

> Monday, March 30 at 7:30pm

> Tuesday, March 31 at 5pm

> Tuesday, March 31 at 7:30pm



Monday, March 30 through Wednesday, April 1

Brooklyn Rider in residence

Brooklyn Rider in residence
Monday, March 30 at 8pm (with Kayhan Kalhor)
Tuesday, March 31 at 7:30pm (with Béla Fleck)
Wednesday, April 1 at 11am
It’s been a long time since a string quartet has generated as much energy as Brooklyn Rider, an exciting young group performing eclectic repertoire in gripping performances that continue to draw rave reviews from classical, world music and rock critics alike. Across three days at SMF ’15, they’ll perform one original program; one concert with banjo master Béla Fleck; and an extraordinary collaboration with Kayhan Kalhor, the Iranian kamancheh player, composer and master of classical Kurdish and Persian music. Both Fleck and Kalhor have worked extensively with Brooklyn Rider, and their creations are like nothing you’ve ever heard.

Get your tickets:

Kayhan Kalhor & Brooklyn Rider
> Monday, March 30 at 8pm


Béla Fleck with Brooklyn Rider
> Tuesday, March 31 at 7:30pm


Chamber Music III: Brooklyn Rider
>Wednesday, April 1 at 11am


Saturday, March 28

Latin Dance Party: Adonis Puentes & the Voice of Cuba Orchestra

Cuban music has long been one of the most popular and well-liked musical genres in the world, due to its unique synthesis of European and African styles. Cuban music today has further incorporated a characteristic blend of percussion, salsa, jazz and other styles, all of which make it a perfect fit for SMF’s annual Latin Dance Party. Having showcased groups led by Eddie Palmieri, Poncho Sanchez and Jimmy Bosch in the past few years, we are thrilled to present Cuban expat Adonis Puentes and the Voice of Cuba Orchestra as they ignite the dance floor in their Savannah debut. With a gorgeous and rich voice, Adonis is a Cuban Sonero for our time.

Get your tickets:

Latin Dance Party

> Saturday, March 28 at 8pm

> Saturday, March 28 at 10:30pm


Thursday, April 2

South Africa meets the American South: Vusi Mahlasela/Dirk Powell & Riley Baugus

This bill pairs a great South African band with a wonderful musical duo from the American South, each of which embodies the heritage and history of their respective birthplace. If you attended Vusi Mahlesela’s only previous SMF appearance with Béla Fleck’s Africa Project in 2009, you witnessed the incredible stage presence of the man simply called “The Voice” in his native country. Coming of age in the 1970s, the South African singer-songwriter’s musical expression has been about love and hope for his country, and his voice and musical originality have endeared him to such popular musicians as Dave Matthews, Warren Haynes and Josh Groban, who utilized him on both their recordings and in concert. Old-time masters Dirk Powell and Riley Baugus are steeped in Southern musical traditions and bring a wealth of instruments to prove it. This is one of the festival events about which I am most pumped up.

Get your tickets:

South Africa meets the American South: Vusi Mahlasela/
Dirk Powell & Riley Baugus

> Thursday, April 2 at 6:30pm

> Thursday, April 2 at 9pm


Wednesday, April 1 and Thursday, April 2

Brazilian Music at SMF with Clarice Assad, Mike Marshall, Chorro Famoso & Off The Cliff

With over 200 million people, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and has produced a wealth of musical styles during the past 100 years. For lovers of Brazilian music, we have three distinct concerts across two days showcasing both traditional and contemporary works built around a range of Brazilian composers and styles. SMF Associate Artistic Director Mike Marshall has spent the past decade studying the choro tradition in Brazil and will showcase his band Choro Famoso in a century-long survey of the greatest choro masterpieces.

Brazilian pianist/composer/singer Clarice Assad brings her group Off The Cliff to perform compositions by such greats as Milton Nasciemento and Caetano Veloso, alongside her own originals. They’ll share an evening concert in the Lucas Theatre, with a completely separate program and a broad array of styles.

Get your tickets:

Mike Marshall & Choro Famoso
> Wednesday, April 1 at 12:30pm

The Brazilian Soul: Mike Marshall & Choro Famoso/Clarice Assad/Off The Cliff
> Wednesday, April 1 at 8pm

The World of Clarice Assad featuring Off The Cliff & Mike Marshall
Thursday, April 2 at 12:30pm


Friday, April 3

Cajun Dance Party: The Band Courtbouillon

Here are three guys, leaders of three of the most successful contemporary Cajun bands playing today, drawn together by nostalgia for the music they grew up hearing. They don’t play old songs – they play their songs, and they’re as timeless to the Cajuns as the Star-Spangled Banner is to Americans. Cajun music is folk music, music by the people for the people, but most people know Wayne Toups, Steve Riley and Wilson Savoy as the great bandleaders they are, standing onstage in front of thousands giving themselves to their audience. This is a rare chance to see them in the intimate Charles Morris Center as three friends playing for each other with a killer backing band. The raw passion coming from these guys, as they pour themselves into their beautiful songs, makes doing the two-step very simple.

Get your tickets:

Cajun Dance Party: The Band Courtbouillon

> Friday, April 3 at 7pm

> Friday, April 3 at 9pm


Friday, April 3

Acoustic Music Seminar Finale: Stringband Spectacular

This annual event continues to grow in stature with each passing festival, if only because once you’ve experienced it, you’re hooked. SMF Associate Artistic Director Mike Marshall calls it the “highlight of his year,” a weeklong gathering of 16 amazingly talented young players and a host of incredible masters working with them, culminating in a 90-minute performance of original compositions and arrangements. Our 4th annual Stringband Spectacular will again feature Julian Lage and Casey Driessen alongside Mike Marshall, working hard to prepare the future of American acoustic music.

Get your tickets:

Acoustic Music Seminar Finale: Stringband Spectacular
> Friday, April 3 at 6pm