Eckart Preu hasn’t had a disruption-free season since he was hired as music director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra in 2019, but he’ll get at least four more seasons to try to remedy that.

The orchestra announced Monday that it has extended Preu’s contract and also released its schedule of concerts for the 2022-23 season that begins in September.

As always, the orchestra will feature a diverse mix of eight classical music shows, five Pops! concerts that pair symphonic and popular music, three Discovery concerts aimed at younger audiences and 12 performances of the “The Magic of Christmas.” All shows are at Merrill Auditorium.

Preu said he’s excited both about the schedule and the opportunity to lead the orchestra for the next four seasons, especially since much of his tenure so far has been challenged by the pandemic.

“The first three years were not really what anyone had imagined,” he said in an interview Monday. “Hopefully, normalcy will kick in at some point. I think everyone is looking forward to a real fresh start, with a full orchestra, and hopefully a full hall.”

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Made of up more than 80 professional musicians, it’s one of the state’s largest performing arts organizations.


Preu, who is of East German descent, was hired in 2019, to replace director Robert Moody, who led the orchestra for 10 years. His first contract was for three seasons. Prior to working in Portland, Preu was music director for the Spokane Symphony in Washington state for 15 years. In addition to the PSO, he conducts the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra in California and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra in Ohio.

The 2022-23 season will open on Sept. 20 with a classical concert titled “Opening Night: DANCE” that will feature guest cellist Inbal Segev, from Israel, and contemporary composer Anna Clyne’s “DANCE.” It also will include Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, which Preu described as a “blockbuster.”

The season, which runs through May 23, 2023, will feature works by contemporary, Black and female composers along with works by classical composers including Verdi, Rachmaninoff, Mozart and Brahms. Among the Pops! concerts will be two performances in October featuring the music of the classic rock band Queen.

Preu said his goal in creating next year’s schedule was to ensure that audiences always get a different experience. He likened it to going to a five-star restaurant many times and getting a different meal. It always satisfies.

“What I want to avoid is people thinking, ‘Oh, he’s a German conductor, that must be his comfort level,’ ” he said. “I want to create a season that cuts across styles, across centuries, and includes pieces we don’t know.”

Guest artists for the season will include Segev; fellow Israeli Alon Goldstein, a pianist; Spanish classical and flamenco guitarist Pepe Romero; American pianist George Li; and the return of Byron Stripling, who will conduct and play the trumpet in the Pops! presentation of “Louis Armstrong & Friends” in the spring of 2023.


PSO musicians also will be featured as soloists, including Ina Zdorovetchi on harp and concertmaster Charles Dimmick.

Preu said it’s hard to pick one show that he’s most looking forward to, but he said two performances in October that will feature the Violins of Hope might be the most meaningful. Violins of Hope is a concert project that features a private collection of violins, violas and cellos, all of which were owned by Jews during the Holocaust and were collected following World War II. The symphony’s string players will perform on these special instruments during Verdi’s “Requiem.”

“That show has so many layers of emotion and meaning. It will be a very special concert,” Preu said.

Audiences have slowly been coming back for orchestra shows, but Preu said he’s been grateful for the support of subscribers who paid for digital concerts during much of the pandemic. The symphony will continue to offer some digital shows next season as well.

As he looks ahead to the next season, Preu said he wants potential patrons to know that he selects contemporary works “very carefully.”

“If you don’t know something, people get suspicious,” he said. “I want people to walk away and say, ‘I’m glad I came.’ Classics were contemporary once, too. We want to help create classics for the future generation.”

Find the full 2022-23 schedule at

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