Rogue Valley Symphony Forecasts Deluge Next Season
– by Lee Greene
Since when, you might wonder, is the Symphony in the business of predicting the weather? Well, it’s NOT really. What the Rogue Valley Symphony was up to, specifically at their Season Preview event at the Ashland Springs Hotel on a balmy Sunday afternoon in late February, is providing a glimpse of what’s in store for their coming 2015-2016 season. And there are a lot of watery music pieces on tap, to go along with an awe-inspiring line-up of some of the top soloists performing with major orchestras on the international concert tour circuit today.
Maestro Martin Majkut has chosen to begin and end the coming season with the Symphony and its guest soloists performing watery and watery weather themed pieces: Handel’s Water Music (June 19, Summer Series I), Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (July 24, Summer Series II), Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides and Debussy’s La Mer (April 22, 23, 24, Masterworks 5). And here is the photo Maestro Majkut used to begin his Season Preview presentation:
So where did this apparent obsession with water and watery themes originate? You can be forgiven for wondering if Maestro Majkut’s native Slovakia suffered a memory scarring drought during his childhood. But no, it turns out the obsession with water did not begin with Mr. Majkut, but in fact, can be traced back to official Rogue Valley Symphony photographer, Christopher Briscoe, who was inspired to take a series of unique, memorable and watery photos of Maestro Majkut to promote the Symphony. Photographer Briscoe persuaded the accommodating and agreeable Maestro Majkut to suit up in tails and tie and pose around a swimming pool, gradually coaxing the conductor into, and finally, under the water in full formal dress. One sopping wet and ruined paired of tails later, the Symphony had some memorable photos. But it did not stop there. Briscoe went on to spend some time around the California coastline, where he found the “perfect” rock promontory out over the water, to take some more photos of Maestro Majkut in formal wear. Who couldn’t forgive Maestro Majkut for having water on the mind, after spending so much time in, around and under water in full formal dress?
Alright, enough about the water obsession. What about those fine soloists who are going to perform with the Rogue Valley Symphony next season? There are seven of them, beginning at the Summer Series I concert on June 19, 2015 with Ashland’s home grown woodwind prodigy, Gabe Young. Young, a 2014 graduate of Ashland High School, was a three time Oregon state champion oboe player, and two time member of the prestigious National Youth Orchestra which performs a summer season at Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, Jackson Hole Music Festival, Chicago’s Grant Park and Los Angeles’s Disney Hall. According to Maestro Majkut, it has already become clear that Mr. Young, currently a music student at Indiana University, has a promising career ahead as a concert oboe soloist with major symphony orchestras. Mr. Majkut says about Gabe Young; “Exceptionally talented musician and a thoughtful young artist. . . home-grown and nurtured in the Rogue Valley.” Mr. Young will be playing Marcello’s Oboe Concerto in c minor and Donizetti’s Andante sostenuto with the Symphony, which will also perform Handel’s Water Music Suites No. 1 and 2 on the program.
Next up, again as part of the Summer Series, at concert 2 on July 24, 2015 will be a reprise visit with the Symphony by Polish born, New York City based violin soloist, Kinga Augustyn. Ms. Augustyn, a Julliard School graduate, has won numerous international awards, including First Prizes at the Alexander & Buono International String Competition (NYC), Artist International Presentations (NYC), J. S. Bach String Competition (Zielona Gora, Poland), and Ackerman Chamber Music Competition at Stony Brook, NY. Other top honors include prizes at the Kosciuszko Foundation Wieniawski Violin Competition (NYC), the Johannes Brahms International Competition (Poertschach, Austria), and the Kloster Schoental International Young Artist Competition (Kloster Scheontal, Germany). She has performed widely as a soloist with orchestras in the United States and Europe, including the Magdeburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum, the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the American Academy of Conducting Orchestra at the Aspen Music Festival, the Empire State Sinfonia, the Gateway Classical Music Society Orchestra, the Broadway Bach Ensemble, the Glacier Symphony, and the Augusta Symphony Orchestra. She has also maintained a busy concert schedule as a recitalist with appearances at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Merkin Hall, The Kosciuszko Foundation, 7 World Trade Center, Bargemusic, Polish and Hungarian Embassies in Washington, DC, The Aspen Music Festival, and the Ethical Society in Philadelphia and has performed as a featured artist at music festivals such as the Paderewski Festival, the Sevenars Music Festival, and the Chopin & Friends Festival. Ms. Augustyn is also a recording artist, whose discography includes Niccolo Paganini’s 24 Caprices for Solo Violin (a Luna recording), Michael White’s Quartet for Piano and Strings (an Albany recording), a 2103 Naxos CD of Polish music, Kenneth Fuchs’s Falling Trio also on Naxos (as a member of Trio 21 with pianist Jeffrey Biegel and cellist Robert DeMaine), and Glen Roven’s Runaway Bunny with Catherine Zeta-Jones as a narrator (on GPR Records). The Fanfare Magazine has described Ms. Augustyn as “. . . beyond amazing . . . a tone of silvery purity and of full-bodied mocha richness.” Ms. Augustyn will join the Symphony in performing all four of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. The program will also include the Symphony performing Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances: Suite 3 and Puccini’s I crisantemi.
After that auspicious and ambitious summer season, the regular symphony season will begin in earnest with the Masterworks I concert on Sept. 25 at Ashland’s SOU Music Recital Hall (SOUMRH), Sept. 26 at Medford’s Craterian Theatre (CRATE), and Sept. 27 at Grants Pass’s Performing Arts Center (GPPAC), featuring award-winning Ukrainian born concert pianist Stanislav Khristenko. Khristenko, a graduate of the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory and the Cleveland Institute of Music, is the winner of over 25 International Piano Competitions, including top prizes in Italy, Spain, Japan, Korea, Greece, Slovakia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia and the United States. He has appeared as a soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra, Berliner Musikfreunde Orchestra, Takamatsu Symphony Orchestra, Arkansas Symphony, Northwest Florida Symphony and Moscow Conservatory Orchestra among others, and performed solo recitals at Carnegie Hall, Schubertsaal in Vienna, and Phillips Collection in Washington. His CD recordings have been released in the Netherlands, Germany, and Russia. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has described a Khristenko performance as a “tour-de-force of technical, musical and stylistic mastery”. Khristenko will perform Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Symphony which will also perform Glinka’s Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla and Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, “The Inextinguishable” in this concert.
Next up, Masterworks 2 Concert on Oct. 16 (SOUMRH), Oct. 17 (CRATE), and Oct. 18 (GPPAC), will showcase Israeli-American cellist and virtuoso, Amit Peled. From the United States to Europe to the Middle East and Asia, Peled is acclaimed as one of the most exciting instrumentalists on the concert stage today. Peled has performed as a soloist with many orchestras and in the world’s major concert halls such as: Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall, New York; Salle Gaveau, Paris; Wigmore Hall, London; Konzerthaus, Berlin; and Tel Aviv’s Mann Auditorium. Pelet performs with the historic cello of Pablo Casals, a Goffriler ca. 1733 instrument, which was personally handed to him by the Maestro’s widow, Mrs. Marta Casals Istomin. This season, Mr. Peled is sharing the sound of that historic cello with audiences around the world – including among other dates, a 20 city U.S. recital tour entitled “Homage to Pablo Casals” culminating in a performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, recording the Miaskovsky Cello Concerto for Naxos, and a return trip to Asia for recitals and performances with the National Symphony of Taiwan. As a recording artist, Mr. Peled will release his fourth Centaur Records CD following three hugely successful installments The Jewish Soul, Cellobration, and Reflections. As an active chamber musician, Peled is a founding member of the famed Tempest Trio with pianist Alon Goldstein and violinist Ilya Kaler. Their Dvorak CD on Naxos has been described as “The best ‘Dumky’ on disc ever!” Mr. Peled has been featured on television and radio stations throughout the world, including NPR’s “Performance Today,” WGBH Boston, WQXR New York, WFMT Chicago, Deutschland Radio Berlin, Radio France, Swedish National Radio & TV, and Israeli National Radio & TV. Critics have roundly praised Mr. Peled’s skill and performances: Fanfare Magazine comments “His tone, of pellucid purity, gleams with a glint of gold . . .” and American Record Guide observes that he demonstrates “The flair of the young Rostropovich”. Mr. Peled will perform Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Symphony, which will also perform Smetana’s Overture to The Bartered Bride and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastorale”.
Masterworks 3 Concert on Jan. 15, 2016 (SOUMRH), Jan. 16 (CRATE), and Jan. 17 (GPPAC), will feature renowned up and coming young violinist, Elena Urioste. Urioste, a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Julliard School, has won multiple awards, including the inaugural Sphinx Medal of Excellence, a London Music Masters Award, a Salon de Virtuosi career grant, and first prize in the Sion International Violin Competition, which also awarded her its audience prize and the prize for best performance of the competition’s newly commissioned work. She has made acclaimed debuts with major orchestras throughout North America, including the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Buffalo Philharmonic, and the National, Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Richmond, San Antonio, Tuscon, Ashville, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestras, and in Europe, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Würzburg Philharmonic, and Hungary’s Orchestra Dohnányi Budafok and MAV Orchestra. Ms. Urioste has performed solo recitals at Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall, the Sage Gateshead in Newcastle, the Konzerthaus Berlinand, and the Mondavi Center at the University of California-Davis, among others. She has been a featured artist in the Marlboro, Ravinia and Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, La Jolla, and Sarasota music festivals, as well as Switzerland’s Sion Valais International Music Festival. Her media credits include the popular radio programs From the Top and Performance Today, appearances on Telemundo and NBC’s Today Show, and a McGraw Young Artists Showcase performance for a live studio audience at WQXR’s Greene Space in New York City. She was featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Breaking the Sound Barrier, and in numerous magazines including Symphony, The Strad, Strings, Philadelphia Music Makers, Careers and Colleges, and Latina magazine, which included her in its 15th anniversary issue as one of its “Future Fifteen.” She has released two CD recordings, the second a 2014 recording with pianist, Michael Brown. A Urioste performance was described thusly by the Kansas City Independent: “With a beaming smile and a sultry dress, Elena Urioste appeared on stage and immediately took command of the theater as she played . . . on her 1706 Alessandro Gagliano violin. . . Urioste was as lovely to watch as she was to listen to. . . her sound was pure, mellow, and controlled. . . She exhibited lightning quick vibrato, which was amazing to see and beautiful to hear.” Ms. Uroste will play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the Symphony, whose program also includes the Oregon premiere of a new, original, Rogue Valley Symphony commissioned work, Dreamtime Ancestors, by contemporary American composer, Christopher Theofanidis and Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, “Prague”.
In Masterworks 4 Concert on Feb. 26, 2016 (SOUMRH), Feb. 27 (CRATE), and Feb. 28 (GPPAC), the highlight will be a performance by Croatian child prodigy, guitarist, Ana Vidović. Vidović, who began playing at the age of 8, and was the youngest student, at 13, to attend the prestigious Academy of Music in Zagreb. She graduated from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD, U.S. in 2003 and has lived in the United States since. Vidović has won an impressive number of prizes and international competitions all over the world, including the Albert Augustine International Competition in Bath, England, the Fernando Sor competition in Rome, Italy, and the Francisco Tárrega competition in Benicasim, Spain. Other top prizes include the Eurovision Young Musicians competition, the Mauro Giuliani competition in Italy, the Printemps de la Guitare in Belgium, and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York. Ms. Vidović, despite her relatively young age of 34, has toured extensively as a performing artist, both internationally and in the United States. She has played with numerous orchestras including Asheville Symphony, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Croatian Symphony Orchestra, Dearborn Symphony Orchestra, Erie Philharmonic, Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Missoula Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Live Chamber Orchestra, Romanian Radio Chamber Orchestra, Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra. She has performed solo recitals throughout the world, including performances in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, London, Luxembourg, Maylasia, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Prague, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey and the United States. Vidović plays a Jim Redgate guitar exclusively and has said, “When I got it and began to play, I immediately knew that this was the instrument that I want to be playing for a long time.” [Shaw, Robert (7 October 2008). Hand Made, Hand Played: The Art & Craft of Contemporary Guitars. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 51.] She has released 6 CDs published by Croatia Records, BGS, and Naxos and has released two DVDs published by Mel Bay publications. Ms. Vidović has been the recipient of countless rave reviews; so many it’s hard to choose one for my readers. But here’s one of my favorites, by Richard Patterson Artistic Director, Omni Foundation for the Performing Arts: “Ana Vidović is one of the premier classical guitarists of her generation. She has emerged in an intensely competitive concert environment as one of the most sought after performers currently residing in the United States. . . . She has deep musicality, virtuoso technical capabilities and a warm and gracious personality.” Vidović will perform perhaps the most well-known of all classical guitar pieces, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Symphony which will also offer performances of Falla’s The Three Cornered Hat: Suites No. 1 & 2, Márquez’s Danzon No. 2, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol in the concert.
The season will conclude with Masterworks 5 Concert on April 22, 2016 (SOUMRH), Apr. 23 (CRATE), and Apr. 24 (GPPAC), where the Symphony will present multiple award winning German piano virtuoso, Alexander Schimpf. Schimpf was the first German pianist to win 1st prize in the long history of the competition at the International Piano Competition in Cleveland (in 2011). He also was awarded the German Music Competition Prize in 2008, 1st Prize in the International Beethoven Competition in Vienna in 2009, and the Bayerischer Kunstförderpreis in 2013. He has performed in Germany, in concert in numerous cities (including Gasteig Munich, Konzerthaus Berlin , NDR Hannover, Beethoven House in Bonn, Music and Congress Hall Lübeck) and at festivals including Oberstdorf Music Summer, Heidelberg Spring and Ludwigsburg Castle Festival His prowess and renown have made him a sought after performer internationally as well, and he has performed in concert in Austria, England, France, Italy, Poland, South America, Switzerland, and the United States. He made his debut concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall in December 2011. He has two published CD recordings, the first a 2010 solo CD of piano works by Mozart , Beethoven, Albéniz, Debussy and Sieber, the second a 2013 CD of piano works by Ravel , Scriabin and Schubert. The Washington Post wrote of the fast rising German pianist: “He savored each sound as one relishes a bit of melting chocolate in the mouth.” Mr. Schimpf will play one of the most demanding concertos in the piano repertoire with the Symphony: Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a four movement concerto at approximately 50 minutes in length, considerably longer than most other concertos written prior to it. The Symphony will also baptize the program with two final water related works, Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides and Debussy’s La Mer.
In addition to the 7 concert programs described above, the Symphony will once again collaborate with the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers (SORS) and their Music Director, Dr. Paul French, in presenting Handel’s Messiah for three performances in December: Dec. 3 (GPPAC), Dec. 4 (SOUMRH), and Dec. 5 (CRATE). The Messiah performances will also spotlight four vocal soloists, who were not identified at press time, although Maestro Majkut assures all that the vocal soloists for this winter’s Messiah performances will be top notch, and different than the soloists at previous Messiah collaborations between SORS and the Symphony, providing different interpretations of this masterpiece than previously heard here.
Some time ago, I summarized Maestro Majkut’s contribution to the Rogue Valley Symphony (RVS 2014-2015 Masterworks 1) as “bringing high energy to the task of running the orchestra and it’s musicians, offering new pieces of music as well as a fresh outlook and insight into the standard classical repertoire, drawing quality musicians into the orchestra and “A” list soloists to join in its performances, and demonstrating an uncanny knack for assembling compelling and exciting concert programs.” Never has that been more true than with the season Mr. Majkut has assembled for next year. He has taken the quality of the “A” list soloists to an unprecedented level of professionalism and international renown, worthy of any major metropolitan symphony orchestra. The “AAA” list of soloists performing here next season is simply astounding – that a modest, backwater community (the Rogue Valley) could have its local orchestra host such a who’s who of top leading international concert performers is a mind boggler. We have well traveled, European rooted, Maestro Majkut, and new to the Rogue Valley, but much experienced, Symphony Executive Director Jane Kenworthy, both well connected at the highest levels of the classical musical world, to thank for this surprising gift of incomparable talent presented to our community.
And the programs Mr. Majkut has assembled for next year are equally superlative, again worthy of any major symphony. It bears noting that this will be Mr . Majkut’s sixth season as music director here, and he has yet to repeat a piece of music performed earlier (save the annual Handel’s Messiah collaboration). What major orchestra wouldn’t be proud to commission and introduce an original work by the most popular young classical composer of our generation, Theofanidis, as our Symphony will next season? The soloists are the highest level quality, the programs are extraordinary and you can be sure that with Maestro Majkut in charge of leading and preparing the orchestra musicians, the orchestra’s performance will be of exceptional quality too. So the Rogue Valley Symphony’s 2015-2016 is shaping up as a classical season for all time. If you have any appreciation for classical music, you are missing the boat, perhaps passing up the opportunity of a lifetime to enjoy some of the best classical performers ever to grace our venues, if you don’t get a subscription to Rogue Valley Symphony’s 2015-2016 concert series.
All Summer Series concerts begin at 8 pm, outdoors at Medford’s EdenVale Winery. All SOU Music Recital Hall and Craterian Theatre concerts begin at 7:30 pm and Grants Pass Performing Arts Center concerts (except the Handel’s Messiah at 7:30 pm) are afternoon matinees at 3 pm. For ticket information, and to inquire about donating, advertising, volunteering, etc., visit the Symphony’s website at www.rvsymphony.org or call the Symphony’s Box Office at 541-552-6398 or Business Office at 541-552-6354.
Photo credit to Christopher Briscoe Photography for all the Majkut water photos, and Symphony photo.
This review was originally published by the Jacksonville Review on February 28, 2015 at http://jacksonvillereview.com/rogue-valley-symphony-forecasts-deluge-next-season/