Symphony begins season with Russian compositions

Monday, October 8, 2012
Concert pianist Jack Gibbons rehearses Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 with the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra conducted by music professor Sara Edgerton. The concert will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Bedell Performance Hall. (Fred Lynch)

The works of Russian composers will be the centerpiece of the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra's gala opening performance kicking off its 2012-2013 season Tuesday.

The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the Bedell Performance Hall at the Southeast Missouri State University River Campus.

In addition to a program of music by Russian composers Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Aram Khatchaturian and Sergei Rachmaninoff, acclaimed concert pianist Jack Gibbons will join the orchestra in a performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2.

The concert will open with the "Overture on Russian Themes" by Rimsky-Korsakov. Rimsky-Korsakov was a 19th-century Russian composer who wrote such works as "Scheherazade" and "Russian Easter Overture." The "Overture on Russian Themes" is one of his relatively early works; it presents a series of Russian themes through many different instruments of the orchestra, culminating in the conclusion.

The orchestra will then perform Khatchaturian's "Masquerade Suite." Khatchaturian was a 20th-century Russian composer, best known today for such works as "Spartacus" and the "Gayaneh" ballet. The "Masquerade Suite" is a series of lively dances, alternating with slow movements featuring the solo violin, trumpet and clarinet.

Gibbons will join the orchestra for the second half of the concert, performing Piano Concerto No. 2 by Rachmaninoff. The concerto, written in 1901, has become one of the most frequently performed works of the piano repertoire, and it has been used in film scores and other popular media.

Gibbons has been described as one of England's most exciting young pianists, and his performances have received standing ovations around the world. In 1994, he gave his New York and Washington, D.C., debuts to tremendous acclaim, and the following year he made his debut at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where he was hailed by the BBC as "the Gershwin pianist of our time."

Dr. Sara Edgerton, orchestra director, is excited to welcome Gibbons back to the River Campus.

"Jack performed with us two years ago in an all-Gershwin concert," Edgerton said. "Students and audience members alike were mesmerized by his beautiful playing and amazing virtuosity. We are looking forward to collaborating with him in this performance of one of the greatest compositions ever written for piano and orchestra."

Gibbons has performed frequently in New York, his most recent all-Gershwin recitals at New York's Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall being greeted with standing ovations from packed halls. He tours regularly around the world, and performs frequently with orchestras from the U.K. and U.S., including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Hall, English Northern Philharmonia and the New Jersey Symphony.

Edgerton said that Gibbons has just played at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and will be at Carnegie Hall next month.

"Obviously, we're delighted he has the time to perform with us," she said.

Tickets for the concert are $19 for the orchestra and lower-balcony seating and $16 for mezzanine and upper-balcony seating, and are available at rivercampusevents.com or by calling the River Campus box office at 651-2265.

klewis@semissourian.com

388-3635

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