Baltimore Symphony Performs East Coast Premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto Featuring Baltimore Native Hilary Hahn, June 4-7
Program also includes Dvorák’s Symphony No. 5
Baltimore, Md. (May 14, 2009)—Music Director Marin Alsop will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the East Coast Premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, performed by violinist Hilary Hahn and co-commissioned by the BSO, on Thursday and Friday, June 4 and 5 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 7 at 3:00 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and on Saturday, June 6 at 8:00 p.m. The program also includes Dvorák’s Fifth Symphony and Beethoven’s Egmont Overture. Please see below for complete concert details.
Lauded by the New York Times for her ability to “…make her violin sound achingly sweet, tender and lyrical, as well as forceful and grandly dramatic,” Hilary Hahn’s breadth of expression will be duly challenged in Jennifer Higdon’s expansive Violin Concerto. The composer and performer became acquainted through their involvement with Curtis Institute of Music, the former as the teacher of 20th century music and the latter, her avid pupil. Having now soared to the status of international star, Hilary Hahn’s beautiful tone throughout the violin’s range, including the extremes of its very lowest and highest notes, is cited among Ms. Higdon’s influences for this technically demanding piece.
Bursting with youthful energy and replete with Czech-flavored melodies, Dvorák composed the infrequently performed Fifth Symphony shortly after he received a stipend from the Austrian government at the recommendation of the young Dvorák’s hero, Johannes Brahms. Symphony No. 5 was composed at a frenetic pace during an extremely prolific period in the emerging composer’s life. The work’s references to the Czech countryside and inclusion of a folkdance culminate in an exuberant brass fanfare.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont tells the story of the Dutch Count Lamoral van Egmont, who in 1568 was executed by the Spanish for leading a movement to free the Netherlands from Spanish rule. Beethoven foreshadows the protagonist’s tragic fate through the ominous chords of its F-minor slow introduction, which eventually give way to a crashing coda known as the “Victory Symphony,” announcing the hero’s triumph in death.
Marin Alsop, conductor
Hailed as one of the world’s leading conductors for her artistic vision and commitment to accessibility in classical music, Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. With her inaugural concerts in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra, which mirrored her ongoing success in the United Kingdom, where she served as the principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony from 2002-2008 and now holds the title of conductor emeritus. In 2005, Marin Alsop was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first conductor ever to receive this prestigious award. In 2007, she was honored with a European Women of Achievement Award; in 2008 she was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2009 Musical America named her Conductor of the Year. Maestra Alsop is a regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. She also appears frequently as a guest conductor with many distinguished orchestras worldwide. After a highly successful 12-year tenure as music director of the Colorado Symphony, Ms. Alsop continues her association as conductor laureate. She also continues as music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California. Marin Alsop attended Yale University and received her master’s degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she became a prizewinner at the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition.
Hilary Hahn, violin
Recently named the 2008 Gramophone Artist of the Year, two-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn is celebrated for her innovative interpretations, captivating stage presence and emotional sophistication. For more than a decade, extensive international performances and recording activities have confirmed Ms. Hahn’s place as one of the most sought-after artists on the concert circuit. Ms. Hahn appears regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and on notable recital series throughout Europe, Asia and North America. In the 2008-2009 season, she appeared as a guest soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco and Vancouver symphonies, the Munich Chamber Orchestra and the Budapest Festival Orchestra. In 2009, Hahn will appear as soloist in the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, co-commissioned by the Indianapolis, Toronto and Baltimore symphonies, and the Curtis Institute of Music. Her recital tours and concert collaborations will also take her to the Japan, England, Italy, Austria, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
Over the past six years, she has released five albums comprising works by Bach, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Mozart, Paganini, Spohr, Schoenberg and Sibelius. Her most recent Deutsche Grammophon recording paired the violin concertos of Schoenberg and Sibelius; the disc debuted at Number 1 and spent 23 weeks on the Billboard classical chart and won the 2009 Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra. Prior to signing with Deutsche Grammophon, Ms. Hahn made five award-winning recordings for Sony Classical, featuring repertoire by Bach, Barber, Beethoven, Bernstein, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Shostakovich and Stravinsky, in addition to a concerto written for her by American composer/performer Edgar Meyer. Hahn has received numerous distinctions throughout her career, including a Grammy for her recording of the Brahms and Stravinsky violin concertos, Diapason's “d'Or of the Year,” German Record Critics’ Award, 2008 Classical FM Gramophone Artist of the Year and several Echo awards.
Jennifer Higdon, composer
Jennifer Higdon is one of America's most frequently performed composers. She is the recipient of awards including a Pew Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Telarc release of Higdon: Concerto for Orchestra / City Scape won a Grammy award in 2005. Her work blue cathedral is one of the most-performed orchestral works by a living composer (150 orchestras have performed the work since its 2000 premiere). Some of her recent commissions include works for The Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Chicago Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, eighth blackbird, Tokyo String Quartet and Ying Quartet, as well as this new violin concerto for Hilary Hahn. A solo disc of her chamber music was recently released by Naxos. She is on the composition faculty at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Compositional Studies.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Classical Concert Series: Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto
Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. —Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Friday, June 5, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. —JMSH
Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. —The Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, June 7, 2009 at 3:00 p.m.—JMSH
Marin Alsop, conductor
Hilary Hahn, violin
Beethoven: Overture to Egmont
Dvorák: Symphony No. 5
Higdon: Violin Concerto ‡
‡ Denotes a BSO premiere
Tickets for these concerts range from $20 to $85, and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.