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Sun Valley Summer Symphony to Feature Lang Lang
 
           
 
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

The “hottest artist on the classical music planet” will open the 2017 Sun Valley Summer Symphony season.

Lang Lang, who received such accolades at the hands of “The New York Times,” will be at the ivories of the symphony’s Steinway piano when the 2017 season starts on July 31.

This year’s symphony season runs July 31 through Aug. 17. The In Focus Series featuring a chamber orchestra will run from July 24 through 28.

Other stars who will take the stage during the season include Grammy winner and violinist James Ehnes, Metropolitan Opera stars Jamie Barton, Angela Meade and Alfred Walker and a dozen of the United States’ and Canada’s leading trumpeters.

The opening night of the orchestra festival on July 31 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Pavilion. It’ll include an encore performance of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” whom the symphony’s Music Director Alasdair Neale calls “the patron saint of American composers.”

It will also include Kevin Puts’ commissioned piece “Hymn to the Sun,” which was performed at the opening of the Pavilion along with the Copland piece.

And it will conclude with Lang’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s “Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp Minor for Piano.”

Lang’s autobiography, “Journey of a Thousand Miles,” tells how he learned to play the piano at age 3 in Shenyang, China. He came to America on a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Now 35, he accompanied Placido Domingo at the 2014 World Cup concert in Rio, performed at the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and played for the Grammy Awards two years in a row. He has played at sold-out concerts in every major city in the world and is the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Vienna, Berlin and New York Philharmonic orchestras.

Steinway Pianos even named a Steinway “The Lang Lang Piano” in his honor--the first time the company has done something like that in a century and a half.

Verdi’s “Requiem,” often referred to as Verdi’s “greatest opera,” will close the 2017 season on Aug. 17. Verdi wrote the dramatic 80-minute work as a tribute to Italian poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni.

The piece will be spectacularly performed by the 150-member American Festival Chorus, vocal soloists and the orchestra with an antiphonal brass of 12 trumpets performing surround sound.

It will feature soloist Alfred Walker, who has been lauded by Opera News for his “inky bass-baritone and clear projection;” Angela Meade, whom “Opera News” called “the most talked about soprano of her generation,” and Jamie Barton, whom “The New York Times” has praised for a mezzo, which “pours out like lava” and a voice that is “majestically plush yet somehow always articulate.”

“Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ is one of the masterpieces of the classical cannon,” said Neale. “Whatever your beliefs may be, you will hear something extraordinary and beautiful.”

Other concerts:

  • Ehnes, the proud owner of a Grammy and 11 JUNO Awards, will perform Elgar’s “Concerto in B Minor for Violin” on Aug. 8. “We have been waiting to present this piece for a long time and have been waiting for the right partner,” said Neale. “James Ehnes has an incredible blend of head and heart.”
  • The symphony will also perform such expansive orchestra works as Brahms’ “Symphony No. 1” and Strauss’ “Ein Heldenleben.”
  • Time for Three will unveil its final composition in the three-year Project Tf3 partnership, while the symphony will also perform “Breaking Light,’” a concerto it commissioned for percussion and orchestra by symphony timpanist Alex Orfaly.

The In Focus Series will kick off with Prokofiev’s “Sonata No. 2 in D Major for Violin and Piano” with the symphony’s Juliana Athayde on violin and Peterson Henderson on piano.

Pianist Conrad Tao will play Shostakovich’s “Concerto No. 1 in C Minor for Piano” on July 26 and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” on July 28.

All performances will be held in the R.E. Holding Pavilion, with free seating in the Pavilion and on the lawn. The In Focus performances and Verdi’s “Requiem” will start at 6 p.m. Other concerts will start at 6:30 p.m.

Founded in 1985, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony is the largest privately funded free-admission orchestra in the United States. More than 100 musicians from major orchestras across the country and Canada come together to perform as one during the season.

“The Sun Valley Symphony is a unique institution,” noted Neale. “It is indebted to the generosity of individuals to a degree that would never exist anywhere else in the world and is unusual even by American standards.”



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