Baltimore Symphony Performs Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto Featuring James Ehnes, October 1-4
Traditional Eastern European ensemble, Harmonia, opens program
Baltimore, Md. (July 31, 2009)—Music Director Marin Alsop leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a celebration of Hungarian folk music on Thursday, October 1 at 8:00 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore and Friday, October 2 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, October 3 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 4 at 3:00 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Special guest Harmonia will kick off this celebration of folk music’s influence on classical music traditions. Also on the program are Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto featuring James Ehnes. Please see below for complete program information.
Performing on authentic folk instruments, Harmonia has been described as a “musical gem” by National Public Radio. The group will open the concert with songs from the members’ varied Eastern European backgrounds. They will discuss with the audience how this type of music influenced Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra.
After fleeing Hungary during World War II, Bartók found strength in composing what would become his most popular work, Concerto for Orchestra. Commissioned by the director of the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky, this work draws on Bartók’s roots in native Hungary, blending Eastern European folk music and Western art music. Despite the absence of a soloist, Bartók calls this work a concerto rather than a symphony due to its soloistic treatment of each section.
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, negatively reviewed at its premiere, is now among the standard repertoire for violin virtuosos for its technically challenging passages and musical brilliance. The mix of passion and emotion is a perfect setting for soloist James Ehnes, who “has something of the patrician in him as a player, an extra degree of elegance flowing behind his sweet, superbly controlled tone." (Baltimore Sun)
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. She also holds the title of conductor emeritus at the Bournemouth Symphony in the United Kingdom, where she served as the principal conductor from 2002-2008, and is music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California
In 2005, Ms. 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.”
A regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ms. Alsop appears frequently as a guest conductor with the most distinguished orchestras around the world. In addition to her performance activities, she is also an active recording artist with award-winning cycles of Brahms and Barber orchestral works. She is currently recording the Dvorák symphonies with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Marin Alsop attended Yale University and received her master’s degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she won the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at Tanglewood where she studied with Leonard Bernstein.
James Ehnes, violin
Grammy, Gramophone and Juno award winning violinist James Ehnes is widely considered one of classical music’s biggest names. He has performed with such renowned conductors as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Andrew Davis, Charles Dutoit, Ivan Fischer, Lorin Maazel, Michael Gielen, Hans Graf, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Richard Hickox, Paavo Järvi, Andrew Litton, Zdenek Macal, Sir Charles Mackerras, David Robertson, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Christian Thielemann, Bramwell Tovey and Bobby McFerrin, appearing with orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada.
Following a busy summer featuring appearances in Chicago, Toronto, Ottawa, Seattle, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and his debut at the Salzburg Festival, the 2009-2010 season takes Mr. Ehnes to Japan, the Netherlands, the U.S., Canada and Germany. In Europe, James will be featured in concerts with the BBC Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, London Philharmonia, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Netherlands Philharmonic. In the US, he will be seen in concerts with the Baltimore, St. Louis, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, Columbus, Houston, Dallas and San Francisco symphony orchestras and return to the San Diego Mostly Mozart Festival. In addition to his many concert appearances, Mr. Ehnes will appear in recital in Detroit, Toronto, Vancouver, Brandon, Montreal and Glasgow.
An extremely prolific and multi-award-winning recording artist, Mr. Ehnes will add to his impressive discography of more than 20 recordings with a re-recording of the Paganini Caprices (Onyx label) due to be released in Fall 2009.
Harmonia presents the traditional folk music of Eastern Europe, ranging from the Danube to the Carpathians. Its repertoire reflects the cultures of this region: Hungarian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Romanian, Croatian and Gypsy. Performing on authentic folk instruments, and styled after turn of the century Eastern European Gypsy bands, their music is drawn from both the urban and rural traditions of Eastern Europe. The ensemble's performances evoke the full range of human emotions; interspersing fiery, passionate virtuosity with soulful melancholy and nostalgic yearning. They have been called "obscenely talented" by the Folklore Society of Washington D.C. and "a musical gem" by National Public Radio. The musicians come from varied Eastern European backgrounds; in Harmonia they have found a common musical language. Harmonia brings to the concert stage the vitality and excitement of ethnic weddings, celebrations and smoky cafés that inspired composers such as Bartók, Brahms and Lizst. Whether performing in these traditional settings or in concert halls, Harmonia's members stay close to their roots. Members include Walt Mahovlich (accordion), Alexander Fedoriouk (cimbalom), Beata Begeniova (vocals), Steven Greenman (violin), Josef Janis (violin), Andrei Pidkivka (panflute and sopilka) and Brano Brinarski (bass).
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Tchaikovsky and Bartók
Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – The Music Center at Strathmore*
Friday, October 2, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – JMSH
Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. – JMSH
Marin Alsop, conductor
James Ehnes, violin
Traditional Eastern European Folk Music
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Tickets for these concerts range from $28 to $90. Tickets will go on sale on September 1, 2009 through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.
*Free pre-concert lecture: Music Notes LIVE! Hosted by WETA’s David Ginder. Starting at 7:00 p.m, the program is free to ticket holders. No reservations required but capacity is limited so patrons will be admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
† Denotes a BSO artist debut