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Curtis Symphony Orchestra launches its season at Kimmel Center, Oct 23

Launching an orchestral season that celebrates Curtis-trained composers and guest artists, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra presents a concert on Sunday, October 23 at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. Conducted by Michael Stern (’86), Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony, and by current Curtis student and emerging maestro Vinay Parameswaran, the program features the Philadelphia premiere of a new fanfare commissioned from faculty member David Ludwig (’01); an American classic by one of Curtis’s first students, Samuel Barber (’34); and the chance to hear new faculty member and “formidable musician” (New Yorker) Jonathan Biss (’01) in Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. Concluding with Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, the concert represents the highpoint of the Curtis Institute of Music’s Season Premiere Gala Weekend, part of the school’s season-long Appassionato celebration.
Recently named one of the world’s “Top 100 Composers Under 40” (NPR), Dr. David Ludwig (b.1974) “deserves his growing reputation as one of the up-and-comers of his generation” (Chicago Tribune). Having completed postgraduate studies at Curtis with composers Richard Danielpour, Jennifer Higdon, and Ned Rorem, he is now a member of the school’s composition faculty himself – besides serving as the Gie and Lisa Liem Artistic Chair of Performance Studies and directing Curtis 20/21, the school’s contemporary music ensemble. His new work, a Curtis commission, is titled Fanfare for Sam as a nod to Samuel Barber; this Philadelphia premiere performance will be led by conducting student and rising star, Vinay Parameswaran.
Samuel Barber (1910-81) is one of the most important American composers of the last century. His distinguished contributions to the orchestral, choral, operatic, and piano repertoires include the Adagio for Strings, widely recognized as a modern masterpiece. Among the first students to enter the Curtis Institute when it opened in 1924, Barber studied voice, composition with Rosario Scalero, and piano with the renowned Isabelle Vengerova. Even before his graduation from Curtis in 1934, his works were premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy. He soon established himself within America’s classical community, winning the favor of such important artists as Koussevitzky and Horowitz.
Barber wrote his Cello Concerto for cellist Raya Garbousova, whose grandson happens to be Jonathan Biss, piano soloist in the Beethoven concerto. A new appointment to the piano faculty at Curtis, Biss is himself an alumnus of the school, having studied with Leon Fleisher before graduating in 2001. He has since launched a successful performing and recording career; his numerous awards include the Leonard Bernstein Award, the Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award.
The Season Premiere Gala Weekend begins with a black-tie dinner at Philadelphia’s Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel on the evening of Saturday, October 22, followed by tours of Lenfest Hall on Sunday before the 3pm concert. Officially opened in September, Lenfest Hall is the first major expansion of the Curtis campus in more than 20 years, adding 105,000 square feet of space. This includes the Miriam and Robert Gould Rehearsal Hall: the Curtis Symphony’s new 3,200-square-foot rehearsal space – customized and acoustically designed to accommodate a full orchestra for the largest-scale core repertoire, enhancing Curtis’s ability to attract world-renowned visiting conductors and guest artists. The Gala Weekend also includes a festive preconcert celebration for the general public on Sunday at 1pm in the Kimmel Center’s Commonwealth Plaza. A variety of multimedia stations will take visitors through Curtis’s rich heritage; explore the school’s impact on Philadelphia and the world; delve into Lenfest Hall; and offer stories from Curtis alumni. The celebration is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
The Gala Weekend is part of Appassionato, Curtis’s season-long celebration of the landmark opening of Lenfest Hall, and of the renowned conservatory’s storied past; its innovative future; and its indelible impact on music. To date the Appassionato season has featured Curtis On Tour’s Asian debut (Oct 4-9), in which current students joined forces with celebrated faculty and alumni for performances in Shanghai, Beijing, and Seoul; a double bill from the Curtis Opera Theatre, juxtaposing the vocal acrobatics of Peter Maxwell-Davies’s Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot with the Baroque eloquence of Handel’s Apollo e Dafne (Oct 6-9); an Alumni Recital featuring Liang Wang (’03), principal oboe for the New York Philharmonic, with pianist Benjamin Hochman (’01), winner of a 2011 Avery Fisher Career Grant (Oct 9); and a faculty tribute to violist Karen Tuttle (’48), who had a long association with the school both as a student of William Primrose and as a much-admired teacher and mentor (Sept 18). Explore Appassionato further at
The Curtis Symphony Orchestra has been called by the Philadelphia Inquirer “an orchestra that any city would be lucky to have as its professional ensemble.” It presents three concerts annually in Verizon Hall, as well as frequent concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Visiting conductors – such as Charles Dutoit, Simon Rattle, and Michael Tilson Thomas – lead the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in major repertoire. This professional orchestral training, under the direction of Otto-Werner Mueller and David Hayes, has enabled Curtis alumni to assume prominent positions in the world’s major orchestras.
Michael Stern is in his fourth season as music director of the Kansas City Symphony, with which he has recorded for Naxos and Reference Recordings. Stern is also founding artistic director and principal conductor of the IRIS Orchestra and principal guest conductor of France’s Orchestre National de Lille. A Curtis graduate, Stern studied under Max Rudolf, whose textbook – The Grammar of Conducting (third edition) – and whose collected writings and correspondence he has edited.
The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists at the highest professional level. One of the world’s leading conservatories, Curtis is highly selective and provides full-tuition scholarships to all of its 165 students. In this intimate environment, students receive personalized attention from a celebrated faculty. A busy schedule of performances is at the heart of Curtis’s distinctive “learn by doing” approach. This philosophy has produced an impressive number of notable artists since the school’s founding in 1924, from such legends as Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber to current stars Jonathan Biss, Juan Diego Flórez, Alan Gilbert, Hilary Hahn, Jennifer Higdon, and Lang Lang.
Curtis Symphony Orchestra
The Jack Wolgin Orchestral Concerts
Sunday, October 23 at 3pm
Philadelphia, PA
Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Michael Stern, conductor (’86)
Vinay Parameswaran, conductor
Jonathan Biss, piano (’01)
DAVID LUDWIG: Fanfare for Sam (world premiere of Curtis commission)
BARBER: Adagio for Strings
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4
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