Wednesday, September 15, 2010

HSO Finalist Conducts Masterworks Concerts in October

Opening to Feature Brahms, Beethoven & Shostakovich
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s search for a new music director continues as guest conductor and music director candidate Kevin Rhodes (left) leads a concert of Brahms, Beethoven & Shostakovich on Thursday, Oct. 14- Sunday, Oct. 17 in the Belding Theater at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

This opening concert of the 2010-2011 Masterworks series will feature Brahms’ Academic Festive Overture, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano concerto, as performed by guest pianist Jeffrey Biegel.

Pianist Jeffrey Biegel (left) will join the HSO to play the rich melodies and energetic passages of Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, allegedly nicknamed “Emperor” for its grandiose character. He shares a unique connection to Beethoven, having been unable to hear until he was 3 years old. Biegel explains this ‘reverse Beethoven’ phenomenon as the inspiration for his musical career, having heard only vibrations in his formative years.

After intermission, Rhodes will lead the HSO in Shostakovich’s politically charged Symphony No. 5. This symphony was written at the height of the Stalin regime; Shostakovich’s use of patriotic hymns and folk tunes led Stalin to believe the symphony was a masterpiece of Soviet propaganda. The work carried a subtext which was invisible to Stalin and his devotees, however: a musical representation of Stalin’s oppression of the Soviet people. Since its 1937 debut, this symphony has brought audiences to tears with its complex expression of the human condition.

The HSO began its search for a new music director in the 2009-2010 season, introducing four of seven candidates to the Hartford community. The search continues this season with the three final candidates’ guest conducting the HSO this fall. HSO Music Director Edward Cumming will continue to lead the orchestra through the conclusion of the 2010-11 season in June of 2011. His successor is expected to be announced by January 2011, and will lead an inaugural HSO performance March 17-20, 2011. For more information on the music director search, including video interviews, full biographies, and audience feedback for each candidate, visit

Emanuel Ax Opens Season Sept. 25
Meanwhile, the HSO will celebrate the opening of its 67th season with a performance by the legendary pianist Emanuel Ax next Saturday, Sept. 25, led by Cumming. The concert will feature Beethoven’s passionate Piano Concerto No. 4, as well as Mozart’s Symphony No. 23 and Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 1.

In addition, Ax’s wife, Yoko Nozaki, will join him to play the rarely performed Mozart “Double” Piano Concerto No. 10 in E-flat Major. As the major annual fundraising event for the HSO, this festive evening will provide critical support for the Symphony’s school-based music education and community engagement programs, along with the HSO’s core music programs.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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