/ News /

Osmo Vänskä Conducts the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Jonathan Biss at Carnegie Hall February 8

The performance in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage concludes the ensemble’s seven-city U.S. tour

PHILADELPHIA—December 30, 2019—The Curtis Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Osmo Vänskä, returns to Carnegie Hall for a concert on Saturday, February 8 at 8 p.m. in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. The program features works by Jean Sibelius, Curtis alumna Gabriella Smith, and Ludwig van Beethoven, with piano soloist and Curtis faculty member Jonathan Biss. This concert represents the final stop of the orchestra’s first-ever United States tour, which visits seven cities between January 30 and February 8.

A highlight of the concert repertoire is Beethoven’s masterful “Emperor” Concerto with esteemed piano soloist Jonathan Biss (’01), who holds the Neubauer Family Chair in Piano Studies at Curtis. Mr. Biss, a revered Beethoven interpreter, contributes to the global celebrations of the composer’s 250th birthday with these tour performances, as well as the sixth and final release in January 2020 of his popular online course, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, available through Coursera.

Known for his masterful interpretations of the Finnish composer, Osmo Vänskä, music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, also leads the orchestra in Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43. Mr. Vänskä previously led the Curtis Symphony Orchestra on a nine-city European tour in 2017.

Rounding out the program is a new work by alumna Gabriella Smith (’16) entitled f(x) = sin²x –1/x. Co-commissioned by Curtis and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the piece is a musical interpretation of the eponymous mathematical function.

Tickets for $20–60 are available through the Carnegie Hall Box Office at 57th and Seventh, CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800, or carnegiehall.org.

The concert at Carnegie Hall—as well as concerts in Immaculata, Philadelphia, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Athens, Georgia; Blacksburg, Virginia; and Durham, North Carolina—is part of Curtis on Tour, the Nina von Maltzahn global touring initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music, an embodiment of the school’s “learn by doing” philosophy that offers students real-world, professional touring experience alongside celebrated alumni and faculty. The Curtis Symphony Orchestra last performed in Carnegie Hall in February 2016, where it was lauded by the New York Classical Review as “…polished and powerful. These musicians showed themselves capable of thrilling vigor.”

Orchestral concerts in Philadelphia and Immaculata 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 Gustave and Rita Hauser Chair.

Osmo Vänskä, music director of the Minnesota Orchestra for more than fifteen years, begins his new role as music director of the Seoul Philharmonic in 2020. He is recognized for his compelling interpretations of repertoire from all ages, his energetic podium presence, and his democratic and inclusive working style.

With the Minnesota Orchestra Mr. Vänskä has undertaken five major European tours, performing at festivals and venues such as the BBC Proms, Edinburgh Festival, Barbican Hall, Royal Concertgebouw, Berlin Philharmonie, Tivoli Copenhagen, and Vienna’s Musikverein. In 2018 they embarked on the first visit by an America orchestra to South Africa as part of celebrations of the Nelson Mandela centenary; and in 2015 they toured to Cuba after the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Much in demand as a guest conductor, in North America Mr. Vänskä has appeared with the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics; the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras; and the Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and New World symphony orchestras. Internationally he has led the Berlin, Czech, Netherlands Radio, Seoul, Hong Kong, London, and Vienna philharmonics; the BBC and Berlin symphonies; and the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras.

Formerly principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Vänskä holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Glasgow and Minnesota and in 2005 was named Musical America’s Conductor of the Year. In 2013 he received the Annual Award from the German Record Critics’ Association for his BIS recordings of the complete works of Sibelius.

Jonathan Biss is a world-renowned pianist who continues to expand his reputation as a teacher and musical thinker. One of the great Beethoven interpreters of our time, he created the first massive open online course (MOOC) offered by a classical music conservatory, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, which has reached more than 150,000 people in 185 countries; the most recent set of lectures was released in 2019. A prolific writer, he is the author of a best-selling e-book, Beethoven’s Shadow (Rosetta Books, 2011). He has recorded the complete Beethoven piano sonatas for Onyx Classics; and leading up to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in December 2020, he is performing a whole season focused around the composer’s piano sonatas, with more than 50 recitals worldwide. He has initiated Beethoven/5, a project to commission five piano concertos as companion works for each of Beethoven’s piano concertos from composers Timo Andres, Sally Beamish, Salvatore Sciarrino, Caroline Shaw and Brett Dean.

Mr. Biss has appeared repeatedly as soloist with the world’s foremost orchestras, and given recitals in such renowned venues as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Théâtre du Châtelet, and the Berliner Philharmonie. An enthusiastic chamber musician, he was named co-artistic director of the Marlboro Music Festival in 2018, alongside Mitsuko Uchida. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Leonard Bernstein Award (2005), Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, and the 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award.

Mr. Biss studied at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart and at the Curtis Institute of Music with Leon Fleisher. In 2011 he joined the faculty of Curtis, where he holds the Neubauer Family Chair in Piano Studies.

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.

Curtis on Tour is the Nina von Maltzahn global touring initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music. Grounded in the school’s “learn by doing” philosophy, it offers students real-world, professional touring experience alongside celebrated alumni and faculty. In addition to performing, musicians offer master classes, interactive programs, and community engagement activities while on tour. Curtis on Tour also facilitates solo performances of Curtis students and alumni with professional orchestras and recital series. Since the program was established in 2008, students, faculty, and alumni have performed more than 300 concerts in over 100 cities in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

In the 2019–20 school year, the Curtis Institute of Music celebrates 95 years of educating and training exceptionally gifted young musicians to engage a local and global community through the highest level of artistry. “Both a conservatory and a buzzword…known for taking the best music students in the world” (Washington Post), Curtis provides each of its 175 young musicians with an unparalleled education alongside musical peers, distinguished by a “learn by doing” philosophy and personalized attention from a faculty that includes a high proportion of actively performing musicians.

To ensure that admissions are based solely on artistic promise, Curtis makes an investment in each admitted student so that no tuition is charged for their studies.

Curtis students offer more than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music performances to the public each year. They hone music advocacy skills through programs that bring arts access and education to the community. And they reach global audiences through Curtis on Tour and weekly livestreamed recitals (Curtis.edu/YouTube).

This real-world training allows these extraordinary young musicians to join the front rank of performers, composers, conductors, and musical leaders. Each season leading opera houses and chamber music series around the world feature Curtis alumni, and they hold principal chairs in every major American orchestra. Curtis graduates are musical leaders, making a profound impact on music onstage and in their communities.




Curtis Symphony Orchestra U.S. Tour 2020


Saturday, February 8 at 8 p.m.
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage


Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Jonathan Biss, piano (’01)



f(x) = sin²x –1/x
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73 (“Emperor”)
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43


Presented by the Curtis Institute of Music.


Tickets: $20–60, available through the Carnegie Hall Box Office
CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800, carnegiehall.org, or Box Office at 57th and Seventh.


For more information on the complete tour, visit Curtis.edu/CSOTour.


# # #

Press Contacts

Patricia K. Johnson
Senior Director of Communications and Marketing
(215) 717-3190

Diana Wensley
Communications and Marketing Manager
(215) 717-3129