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High Notes for Symphony Silicon Valley

Kate Evans | September 21, 2017 | Lifestyle Story Culture

The 2017-18 season of Symphony Silicon Valley promises to enchant a wide range of audiences. Expect memorable showpieces, dynamic soloists and talented guest conductors from around the globe. In addition to the symphony’s star-studded classics series, mark your calendar for chorale concerts, Movies in Concert and special events like the holiday favorite The Nutcracker.

The first program starts off the 16th season with a bang in late September, as famed conductor Paul Polivnick leads the orchestra in dark, stormy interludes from Richard Wagner and Benjamin Britten, followed by Beethoven’s bright, exciting, hopeful Seventh Symphony. In the second program, violin virtuoso Mayuko Kamio will play Johannes Brahms’ rich, romantic Third Symphony in F major, Op. 90; Antonín Dvořák’s flirty Slavonic Dances; and Aram Khachaturian’s big, showy Violin Concerto in D minor. “Everyone kept saying, ‘You need more Khachaturian!’” says Andrew Bales, the symphony’s general manager and founder, of the leading Soviet composer. “Well, here it is!”

Alasdair Neale will head down from the Marin Symphony in December to conduct a program anchored by Edward Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma,” Op. 36. But the real showstopper may be internet sensation and prodigy 12-year-old Alma Deutscher, who will be performing the American debut of her own violin concerto. While some of her notoriety certainly comes from her age, “many world class musicians are saying she’s the real deal—a talent beyond her years,” notes Bales. “She’s sure to draw a big crowd.”

January sees the return of cello master Lynn Harrell. When Bales asked Harrell what he wanted to play, his surprising answer was Joseph Haydn’s “Sinfonia Concertante.” “This piece is a quartet,” explains Bales, “so it’s wonderful for us because we get to allow three of our soloists to perform with Harrell.” But, he adds with a laugh, “We will also do the Schumann [Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129], which is a great showpiece for the cello role, so we’ll get our money’s worth.”

Carlos Vieu, an Argentinian conductor beloved by musicians and audiences alike, will lead piano soloist Jon Nakamatsu in a performance of Debussy’s “Prélude à l’aprèsmidi d’un faune,” Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto and Ottorino Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.” Then, in early May, John Nelson will return to conduct the symphony and choir in a full-evening performance of Haydn’s deep, life-affirming, “The Creation.” The final program of the season, a celebration of Tchaikovsky, will feature piano soloist Stephen Prutsman and conductor Tatsuya Shimono. They will perform “Slavonic March,” Fourth Symphony and his First Piano Concerto, which, according to Bales, is Tchaikovsky’s “most profound and most loved piece of his entire repertoire.”

Originally published in the September/October issue of Silicon Valley

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