Mahler, Schumann, and Ra

Curtis Symphony Orchestra | April 15, 2023 3:00 p.m.
A symphonic “Titan,” a popular piano concerto, and world premiere

Under the baton of conductor Osmo Vänskä, former music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra presents a newly commissioned work by James Ra (’04). Praised by The Philadelphia Inquirer as “a composer to watch” with a gift for “expressive, virtuosic string writing” (The Boston Music Intelligencer), Ra’s electrifying compositions have been described as “coursing with adrenaline-pumping energy.” This eagerly anticipated world premiere will surely be an audience favorite of Curtis’s 2022–23 season.  

The program continues with Schumann‘s beloved Piano Concerto in A minor, featuring Amy Yang (’06), “a jaw-dropping pianist who steals the show…with effortless finesse” (The Washington Post). One of the most widely performed and recorded piano concertos in the Romantic repertoire, this challenging work forgoes fiery displays of virtuosity for subtlety, poise, and precision, flitting between elegant dreamlike passages and bold rhythmic syncopations, culminating in an exhilarating finale. The evening concludes with Mahler‘s Symphony No. 1, “Titan,” considered one of the composer’s most accessible works, with its soaring melodies, thunderous crescendos, and triumphant conclusion.  


Program
JAMES RA Untitled World Premiere
ROBERT SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
GUSTAV MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major
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Artists

  • Music Director of Minnesota Orchestra for 18 years and of Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra since 2020, Osmo Vänskä is recognised for compelling interpretations of repertoire of all ages and an energetic presence on the podium. His democratic and inclusive style of work has been key in forging long-standing relationships with different orchestras.

    Celebrating the last year of his tenure with Minnesota Orchestra this season, Osmo Vänskä presents some of his signature repertoire. He is joined by favourite guest soloists including Joshua Bell and Lisa Batiashvili, and continues with This Is Minnesota Orchestra, an Emmy Award-nominated series of performances for TV, radio and online audiences launched in 2020, developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Vänskä has undertaken five major European tours, as well as historic trips to Cuba in 2015 – the first visit by an American orchestra since the two countries re-established diplomatic relations – and South Africa in 2018, as part of worldwide celebrations of Nelson Mandela’s Centenary – the first visit by an American orchestra, drawing together South African and American performers in musical expressions of peace, freedom and reconciliation, on a five-city tour following a successful return to London’s BBC Proms.

    After a successful first season with Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, including opening and closing the Lotte Concert Hall Festival and recording works by Korean composer Isang Yun, he embarks on his second year with numerous concerts and community outreach projects.

    He returns this season to the Symphony and Philharmonic orchestras of Pittsburgh, Antwerp, Helsinki, Netherlands Radio and Tokyo Metropolitan. While past guest conducting invitations include renowned international ensembles such as The Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago symphony orchestras in North America; Orchestre de Paris, Berlin’s Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester in Europe, and London Philharmonic Orchestra in the UK; and the Shanghai Symphony and China, Hangzhou, Hong Kong and Taiwan philharmonic orchestras in Asia.

  • Praised by the Washington Post as a “jaw-dropping pianist who steals the show…with effortless finesse,” pianist Amy Yang balances an active career as soloist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. Among Ms. Yang’s numerous collaborators are Yefim Bronfman, Roberto Díaz, Miriam Fried, Richard Goode, Kim Kashkashian, Ani and Ida Kavafian, Patricia Kopatchinskaya, Anne-Marie McDermott, Tito Muñoz, and Joseph Silverstein; the St. Paul and Mahler chamber orchestras; Third Coast Percussion; A Far Cry; members of the Guarneri String Quartet; and the Dover, Jasper, and Aizuri string quartets. She has appeared as a soloist with the Houston, Tuscaloosa, and Mansfield symphony orchestras; the Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, and Orquesta Juvenil Universitaria Eduardo Mata de la UNAM. Ms. Yang has also performed in solo and chamber recitals for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society—including a solo recital and collaborations with Jasper String Quartet in piano quintets by Tania Léon and Joan Tower for their 35th season. She was also featured in a full episode of Emmy® Award-winning producer Jim Cotter’s Articulate, which aired on PBS in 2021.

    At the Curtis Institute of Music, she is the Associate Dean of Piano Studies and Artistic Initiatives. She previously held the roles of Program Director and piano faculty of Curtis Summerfest’s Young Artist Summer Program for nine summers. She will make her debut playing Schumann’s Piano Concerto with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center in April 2023.

    Ms. Yang has premiered music by Caroline Shaw, Avner Dorman, Michael Hersch, Ezra Laderman, and Hua Yang. She has appeared in such prestigious venues such as Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Recital Hall; at the Marlboro, Ravinia, Aldeburgh, Bravo! Vail, Chelsea, Olympic, and Ojai music festivals; Verbier Academy; Cal Performances; Caramoor; IMS Prussia Cove; Music from Angel Fire; and Chamber Music Northwest, among others. Ms. Yang’s discography includes a debut solo album (MSR Classics); recordings with violinists Tessa Lark (First Hand Records) and Itamar Zorman (BIS Records) and clarinetist José Franch-Ballester (iTinerant Records); and a live recording of music by Michael Hersch, performed at the Aldebergh Festival (New Focus Records).

    Ms. Yang is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Yale School of Music, and joined the Curtis faculty in 2011.

  • 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.

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