Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet Performs an All-Gershwin Concert with the Baltimore Symphony, Nov. 12-15
Program features Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F
Baltimore, Md. (September 28, 2009)—Music Director Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform a program featuring George Gershwin classics with French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Thursday and Friday, November 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 15 at 3:00 p.m. and at The Music Center at Strathmore on Saturday, November 14 at 8:00 p.m. The program includes Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Concerto in F, “I Got Rhythm” Variations, Overture to Girl Crazy and Overture to Of Thee I Sing. Gershwin’s music fuses classical traditions with the American vernacular, a characteristic that highlights the BSO’s season-long theme of exploring cultural roots. Receiving excellent reviews from the Washington Post for conveying “vigor,” “sensitivity” and “star power” during his performance of Rhapsody and Concerto in F with the BSO in the spring of 2008, Thibaudet now returns for another evening of “power-Gershwin.” Thibaudet will also return to the BSO the following week, November 19-21, to perform Liszt’s Totentanz. Please see below for complete program information.
Instantly recognizable by the clarinet’s opening wail, Rhapsody in Blue has become a piano standard since it was written in 1923. The piece was premiered at a concert of “experimental music” hosted by big band leader Paul Whiteman. Whiteman had asked Gershwin to write a “jazz concerto” months before the concert, but after a few scribbles, the project was abandoned. Gershwin later read in an issue of the New York Tribune that he was to play this as-yet unwritten piece in a concert scheduled for a month later. He finished Rhapsody in Blue just days before he was to play, and improvised all of the solos, having given Paul Whiteman the instruction that he would nod when the orchestra should come back in. The piece, which Gershwin is quoted as saying is “a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness,” was a huge success. The BSO will perform the original version of the piece for jazz orchestra rather than the classical version heard performed by most orchestras today.
While Gershwin completed Rhapsody with almost no musical training, he bought books on theory and orchestration to aid his composition of Concerto in F, written just a few years later. Although the piece was intended to have more of a classical structure, Gershwin’s writing again displays his jazz tendencies. The Concerto reveals his inner struggle between his wish to be considered a “serious” composer and advice from his jazz colleagues, who encouraged him to ignore studying counterpoint and harmony.
Considered his last classical concert piece, Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” Variations were composed in 1933-1934, just years before his death. The variations are based on the hit song from his Broadway musical Girl Crazy. Like Rhapsody, the piece opens with a clarinet solo, which is followed by six variations on the “I Got Rhythm” melody.
George Gershwin often collaborated with his older brother Ira Gershwin to create some of the most memorable songs on Broadway. Their musical Girl Crazy (1930) and was a smashing success that made stars of both Ginger Rogers and Ethel Merman. The Broadway production Of Thee I Sing premiered a year later in 1931 and was the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1932).
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.
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet continues to enthrall audiences worldwide with his profound and poetic artistry, enlightened interpretations and thrilling performances. Mr. Thibaudet’s 2009-2010 season is highlighted by an Australian tour with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as European and North American tours with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. Additional appearances abroad this season are with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Berner Symphonie-Orchester, Museumorchester Frankfurt, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Norddeutscher Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester, Castilla y Leon Symphony Orchestra, Gelders Orchestra and Sinfonieorchester des Westdeutschen Rundfunks. Mr. Thibaudet’s performances in the U.S. include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Nashville. A vivid recitalist, Mr. Thibaudet performs at Carnegie Hall on December 15, 2009, as well as in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Seattle, Washington. In May 2010, Mr. Thibaudet embarks on a U.S. tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and new Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, bringing Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety to San Francisco, Nashville, Washington, New York and Newark.
Mr. Thibaudet is an exclusive recording artist for Decca, which has released over 40 of his albums, earning the Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d’Or, Choc de la Musique, a Gramophone Award, two Echo awards and the Edison Prize. Thibaudet was the soloist on the Oscar and Golden Globe-award winning soundtrack of Universal Pictures’ Atonement and the Oscar-nominated Pride and Prejudice.
Jean-Yves Thibaudet was born in Lyon, France, where he began his piano studies at age 5 and made his first public appearance at age 7. At12, he entered the Paris Conservatory to study with Aldo Ciccolini and Lucette Descaves, a friend and collaborator of Ravel. At age 15, he won the Premier Prix du Conservatoire and three years later, won the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York City. In 2001, the Republic of France awarded him the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2002, he was awarded the Premio Pegasus from the Spoleto Festival in Italy for his artistic achievements and his long-standing involvement with the festival. In 2007, he was awarded the Victoire d’Honneur, a lifetime career achievement award and the highest honor given by France’s Victoires de la Musique.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Classical Concert Series: All-Gershwin
Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. —Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Friday, November 13, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. —JMSH
Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. — The Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. — JMSH
Marin Alsop, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Gershwin: Overture to Girl Crazy
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Gershwin: “I Got Rhythm” Variations
Gershwin: Overture to Of Thee I Sing
Gershwin: Concerto in F
Tickets are $28 to $90 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.