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Double Debuts with Bow and Baton Bring International Flavor to RPO

October 29, 2009

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s two guest artists in pre-Thanksgiving concerts set a tasty musical table with a fitting mix of cold-weather flavors.  Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu makes his RPO debut, as does violinist Augustin Hadelich, with works by Rautavaara, Shostakovich, and Tchaikovsky on Thursday November 19 at 7:30 pm, and Saturday, November 21 at 8:00 pm at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.  Mr. Lintu hosts the First Niagara Pre-Concert Chat one hour prior to concert start.

Mr. Lintu opens with a piece by fellow-countryman Einojuhani Rautavaara, the Finnish composer with one of that country’s most appealing and widely-heard compositional voices since Sibelius. Cantus Arcticus (Concerto for Birds and Orchestra) is one of Rautavaara’s most extensively performed compositions, although this will be its RPO premiere.  This fascinating work was written in 1972 for the academic degree ceremony at the University of Oulu, the most northerly college in Finland.  Inspired by the university’s location, Rautavaara wandered, tape recorder in hand, through the forests and marshlands, recording arctic bird songs and choosing among them the “soloists” for his “concerto.”  RPO program annotator Don Anderson writes, “Combining these recorded natural sounds with washes of impressionistic orchestral color – at times the players make bird-like sounds with their instruments – makes for a timeless, dream-like experience, a haunting communion between man and nature.”

Tchaikovsky’s masterful Violin Concerto allows the soloist to make a musical entrance with one of the composer’s great melodies, further expanded and developed with wonderfully imaginative skill.  Woodwinds introduce the wistful and elegant second movement during which the soloist is instructed to use a mute, giving the instrument a veiled, restrained sound most appropriate to the music.  The boisterous finale bursts in with a vivacious, folk-flavored dance (a “Trepak,” also used in the composer’s score to The Nutcracker), bringing the work to a brilliant conclusion.

This past September, Hannu Lintu was named Chief Conductor of the Tempere Philharmonic Orchestra in Finland, having held artistic director positions with the Helsingborg Symphony, Turku Philharmonic, and the Bergen Collegium Musicum Chamber Orchestra.  Reflecting his strong commitment to contemporary music, he is a regular guest conductor of the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, and was the artistic director of its 2005 Summer Sounds Festival.  He has appeared as a guest conductor with the Houston, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Oregon, Pacific, and Utah symphonies, and with the National Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Upcoming debuts include the orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Colorado, St. Louis, and Toronto.  In 1994, Mr. Lintu was awarded first prize at Norway’s Nordic Conductor’s Competition.  He has recorded for Hyperion, Naxos, and Ondine, including a CD with the Rautavaara piece he will be conducting with the RPO.

Shostakovich’s First Symphony, written in 1925 when the composer was only 19, reflects not only his introspective personality, but also his love of like-minded composers such as Mahler, Mussorgsky, and Tchaikovsky.  It made its way around the world, entering the repertories of conductors such as Arturo Toscanini and Bruno Walter. The four movements are divided into two pairs, with a combination of humor and impudence (Shostakovich accompanied silent film comedies of the time), balanced by sobriety and highly expressive solo passages. 

Winner of the 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant and Gold Medalist of the 2006 Indianapolis International Violin Competition, the 25-year-old Augustin Hadelich has demonstrated astounding versatility across the spectrum of violin repertory.  With his poetic style and dazzling technique, he made a sensational debut this past summer with the Cleveland Orchestra.  The review in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer stated that behind Hadelich’s talent was “a molten intensity, a determination to explore the music’s passionate, earthy sides with gritty articulation and tender lyricism.”  Other recent debuts include the Houston, Pacific, and Tokyo symphonies, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and recitals at Kioi Hall (Tokyo), the La Jolla Music Society, and the Kennedy Center.  Born in Italy of German parents, Hadelich holds a diploma from the Istituto Mascagni in Livorno, Italy, as well as a graduate diploma and Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School.  He has two highly acclaimed CDs on Naxos, and a new CD on AVIE of solo violin works.

Tickets for these performances are $20-$60, with $75 box seats, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org; by phone (454-2100); in-person from the RPO Box Office, 108 East Avenue, 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am -3:00 pm); and seven days a week at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.  The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb. 


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