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Brahms & Bartók with Jonathan Biss & Bernhard Gueller

October 08, 2013

PDF Click here to download PDF

For Immediate Release: October 7, 2013
Media Contacts:   Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795, sally@sallycohenpr.com, @PR4Arts
RPO Info:  rpo.org, facebook.com/SuperRPO, twitter.com/SuperRPO, rpo-land.blogspot.com

Brahms & Bartók with Jonathan Biss & Bernhard Gueller
October 17 & 19 concerts dedicated to the late Douglas Lowry
PLUS: FREE Around the Town Concerts this Thurs. – Sat. (Oct. 10-12)


Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO)’s 2013-14 season, presented by Dawn & Jacques Lipson, presents its second concert in its Philharmonics series, Brahms & Bartók, on Thursday, October 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 19 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, with a pre-concert talk (included with ticket price) beginning an hour before curtain each night. Tickets start at $22, with $10 student tickets available, and may be purchased in person at the Eastman Theatre Box Office (433 East Main Street) and at all Wegmans That’s T.H.E. Ticket! locations, by phone at (585) 454-2100, or online at rpo.org. 

Dedicated to the late Douglas Lowry, a gifted musician, composer, conductor and recently-retired dean of the Eastman School of Music, Brahms & Bartók features pianist Jonathan Biss performing Brahms’s First Piano Concerto.  Called “one of the most striking North American pianists of the new generation" (Toronto Globe and Mail), Biss is widely regarded for his artistry, musical intelligence and deeply felt interpretations, and has won international recognition for his orchestral, recital and chamber music performances and for his award-winning recordings. He made his New York Philharmonic debut in 2001, and since then has appeared with the foremost orchestras of North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In January 2012, Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete sonatas. Previous recordings include an album of Schubert sonatas and an all-Schumann recital album which won a Diapason d’Or de l’année award. Biss represents the third generation in a family of professional musicians that includes his grandmother Raya Garbousova, one of the first well-known female cellists, and his parents, violinist Miriam Fried and violist/violinist Paul Biss. He studied at Indiana University and at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and in 2010, was appointed to the piano faculty of The Curtis Institute. More than 30,000 students enrolled in Biss’s Curtis Institute Coursera course on Beethoven’s piano sonatas. A frequent and humorous writer, Biss has two published books and a very popular blog.

Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15 was met by puzzlement and then extreme hostility when first performed (with Brahms as soloist) in 1859. Afterwards he wrote: “My concerto here was a brilliant and decided – failure…The first movement and the second were heard without a sign. At the end three hands attempted to fall slowly one upon the other, at which point a quite audible hissing from all sides forbade such demonstrations… In spite of all this, the concerto will please someday.”

Conducting the program, which also includes Jennifer Higdon’s City Scape: Skyline and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, is Bernhard Gueller, music director of the Symphony Nova Scotia. Gueller is a frequent guest conductor in North America and Europe and was principal guest conductor of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra in South Africa. Beginning his career as a cellist, Gueller won the Conducting Competition of the United German Radio in 1979, and was chosen by the legendary conductor Sergiu Celibidache to take the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra on a national tour and to conduct the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra on many occasions. In addition to recordings for national and international broadcast, Gueller’s catalogue includes songs of Mahler and Wagner with mezzo-soprano Hanneli Rupert and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra; and Dancing in the Light, an album of works by Canadian composer Christos Hatzis recorded with the Symphony Nova Scotia.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Higdon says of her City Scape: Skyline: “City Scape is a metropolitan sound picture written in orchestral tones. Every city has a distinctive downtown skyline: that steely profile that juts into the sky, with shapes and monumental buildings that represent a particular signature for each city. The steel structures present an image of boldness, strength, and growth, teeming with commerce, and the people who work and live there. This is the first movement, ‘SkyLine.’”

Béla Bartók’s vibrant Concerto for Orchestra showcases the expressive power of the modern orchestra, as well as his signature use of Hungarian folk music. Composed as a commission for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1943, the “work is explained by its tendency to treat single instruments or groups in a concertante or soloist manner,” explained Bartók himself. “The general mood represents, apart from the jesting second movement, a gradual transition from the sternness of the first movement and the lugubrious death-song of the third, to the life-assertion of the last one.”

Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 10-12:  the RPO’s annual fall Around  the Town concerts:
Thursday, October 10 at 7:30 p.m.: Pittsford Sutherland High School, 55 Sutherland Street, Pittsford
Friday, October 11at 7:30 p.m.: Rush-Henrietta High School, 1799 Lehigh Station Road, Henrietta
Saturday, October 12 at 7:30 p.m.: Cultural Life Center, Roberts Wesleyan College, 2301 Westside Drive, Rochester
All three performances are FREE and open to the public.

Conducted by RPO Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach Michael Butterman (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair), the three performances are a preview of the 2013-14 season. The program includes: Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony (Movement IV), Beethoven’s Overture to Fidelio, J.S. Bach’s Air on a G String, Mendelssohn’s Verleih Uns Frieden (featuring the Pittsford Sutherland / Rush-Henrietta Choir*) and Joseph Martin’s The Awakening (featuring the Pittsford Sutherland / Rush-Henrietta Choir*)

*The Thursday and Friday night concerts will feature the Pittsford Sutherland HS / Rush-Henrietta HS combined choir

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents up to 150 concerts a year, serving nearly 200,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Notable former music directors include Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman; Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his 19-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) – the first position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches 14,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.

Media please note:  High-resolution images for Phils concerts are available at docs.google.com/folder; high-res photos for Pops and other concerts are available at docs.google.com/folder/d. More details are available at rpo.org and upon request. Interviews, as well as photo and footage opportunities, can also be arranged.

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