Beethoven, Ortiz, and Barber

Curtis Symphony Orchestra | January 27, 2024 3:00 p.m.

Celebrating Classical Masterpieces

Acclaimed conductor Michael Stern (‘86) leads the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in an evening of extraordinary emotional contrasts. The program opens with the Philadelphia premiere of Latin GRAMMY-nominated composer Gabriela Ortiz’s kaleidoscopic Kauyumari (“The Blue Deer”). A rhythmic tour-de-force, this thrilling work follows the hoofed blue spiritual guide of the Huichol people of Mexico on a peyote-fueled journey through the invisible world as they communicate with their ancestors, heal the wounds of the soul, and serve as guardians of the planet.

The concert continues with legendary 20th-century composer and Curtis alumnus Samuel Barber’s (’34) soaring First Symphony (in One Movement)—a muscular, lyrical work that packs a powerful wallop within the span of twenty minutes, condensing the dramatic intensity, delicacy, and sweeping grandeur of a traditional four-movement symphony into one. The final piece of the concert, Beethoven’s transcendent Violin Concerto in D major featuring internationally renowned violinist Pamela Frank (’89), opens with a quiet whisper. One of classical music’s most intimate, impassioned masterpieces, this revolutionary work combines blazing virtuosity with the elegance of a traditional symphonic structure.

BARBER Symphony No. 1 (In One Movement), Op. 9
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61
  • January 27, 2024
  • 3:00 p.m.
  • Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center
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  • As a recitalist, she has performed in the major cities of the world. A sought-after chamber musician, she has appeared at many international festivals, including Aldeburgh, Verbier, Edinburgh, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Marlboro and Ravinia. Her chamber music projects include performances with such artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, the late Peter Serkin, and her father, the late pianist Claude Frank; and frequent appearances with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and Musicians from Marlboro. In 1999 she was awarded a coveted Avery Fisher Prize.

    With Claude Frank, she recorded the complete Beethoven sonata cycle for Music Masters Classics and an all-Schubert disc. For Sony Classical Ms. Frank recorded the Chopin Piano Trio and Schubert Trout Quintet with Mr. Ax and Mr. Ma. On Decca she has recorded all of the Mozart violin concertos, the Dvorak concerto, and, with Peter Serkin, the complete Brahms sonata cycle.

    Since 2008 Ms. Frank has been the artistic director of the Evnin Rising Stars, a mentoring program for young artists at Caramoor Center for the Arts. Her newest venture is the formation of Fit as a Fiddle Inc., a collaboration with physical therapist Howard Nelson in which they use both their expertise for injury prevention and treatment of musicians.

    Ms. Frank joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1996.

  • Michael Stern (Conducting 86′) is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, studying under the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf. Stern co-edited the third edition of Rudolf’s famous textbook, The Grammar of Conducting, and also edited a volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence. He is also a graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American history.

  • Acclaimed for its “otherworldly ensemble and professional level of sophistication” (New York Times), the Curtis Symphony Orchestra offers a dynamic showcase of tomorrow’s exceptional young talent. Each year the 100 extraordinary musicians of the orchestra work with internationally renowned conductors, including Osmo Vänskä, Vladimir Jurowski, Marin Alsop, Simon Rattle, Robert Spano, and Yannick Nézet Séguin, who also mentors the early-career conductors who hold Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellowships. This professional training has enabled Curtis alumni to assume prominent positions in America’s leading orchestras, as well as esteemed orchestral, opera, and chamber ensembles around the world.

Special Thanks

Orchestral concerts are supported by the Jack Wolgin Curtis Orchestral Concerts Endowment Fund.

Guest conductor appearances for each Curtis Symphony Orchestra performance are made possible by the Rita E. and Gustave M. Hauser Chair in Conducting Studies.

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