Perry, Schumann, and Mahler
A symphonic “Titan,” a popular piano concerto, and an orchestral tour de force
Under the baton of conductor Osmo Vänskä, former music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra presents neoclassical composer, pianist, and conductor Julia Perry’s dynamic Study for Orchestra (originally titled A Short Piece for Orchestra when it premiered in Turin, Italy, in 1952). This fiercely raucous, high-octane work shifts gears between intensely dramatic moments reminiscent of a menacing Bernard Hermann film score and quiet, poetic passages. In 1965, Perry’s energetic piece made history as the first work by a woman of color to be performed and recorded by the New York Philharmonic and only the third by a female composer.
Facing sexism and racial discrimination in a pre-Civil Rights world, as well as significant personal health issues, Perry was an inspiring trailblazer who left behind an extraordinary body of work when she died at age 55, with over a dozen symphonies, two concertos, and three operas. Although her compositions have been largely neglected until recent years, Perry’s work is primed for audience rediscovery and celebration.
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 performance 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.
Run time: Approximately two hours, including a twenty minute intermission
Study for Orchestra
Micah Gleason, conducting fellow
|Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
|Symphony No. 1 in D major (“Titan”)