PORTLAND — Robert Moody’s courtship of Portland continues, as the maestro of the Portland Symphony Orchestra today announced plans for the orchestra’s 2011-12 concert schedule.

It will be a season of great classics, including a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, otherwise known as “The Great.” It also will include a lot of music by living or recently deceased contemporary composers, and a few moments of pop-laden levity, such as a tribute to the rock band Queen, Moody said.

Next to running rehearsals and leading the orchestra in performance, Moody views his role as concert programmer as the most important aspect of his job. His decisions about the music that the orchestra will play directly reflect the personality of the orchestra itself, as well as his own ideas about music and the concert experience. He also factors in feedback that he receives from the audience, and Moody said Portland music fans are particularly vocal and outspoken – in a good way.

The upcoming season will be Moody’s fourth with the orchestra.

“People have strong opinions, and they let me know what inspired them and they let me know what they don’t like,” he said. “I feel that (the) 2011-12 season is more reflective of the dialog that has so enjoyably been happening between me, the orchestra and the audience.”

The 2011-12 season will begin in October and will feature guest pianist Awadagin Pratt for two concerts on Oct. 2 and Oct. 4. The season concludes May 6 and May 8, 2012, with a centennial celebration of the Kotzschmar organ.

The organ turns 100 in 2012, and Moody said the orchestra will mark the anniversary throughout the concert year. He called the beloved organ “one of the strongest assets we have in this town and in this region. … I want to see the 100th anniversary of the organ be as big as possible.”

The concert season will have many local connections. Pratt is the big-name superstar guest, and Alice Kornhauser, the orchestra’s marketing director, noted that Pratt entered a PSO piano competition many years ago when he was a young man. “He didn’t win, but he definitely made an impression,” she said.

Pianist Henry Kramer, a 2005 graduate of Cape Elizabeth High School, will be featured as a guest soloist on Feb. 14, 2012, in a program with a Shakespeare theme. Laurie Kennedy, who celebrates her 30th season with the symphony, will be featured as viola soloist in October. Kennedy is the orchestra’s principal violist.

Municipal organist Ray Cornils will star in the season-ending Kotzschmar celebration next May.
In all, the season will feature 11 classical concerts, four Pops concerts and the usual “Magic of Christmas” run from Dec. 9-18.

The orchestra also will schedule other events, which are not part of the season series. An example is the holiday concert on Portland’s Eastern Prom to celebrate July 4th. That concert hasn’t been confirmed, but Moody said the orchestra will play it if asked.