Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Press Release

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Presents Berstein & Prokofiev

Performances feature pianist William Wolfram

By - Jan 22nd, 2015 11:18 am

MILWAUKEE, WIS. 01/22/2015 – The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra presents Bernstein & Prokofiev on February 6-7, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Led by guest conductor Andrew Litton, the performances include Barber’s Overture to The School for Scandal; Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety, featuring pianist William Wolfram;and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major, Op. 100.

Both concerts include Meet the Music, a free, interactive pre-concert discussion held one hour prior to concert start time in Anello Atrium.

Barber’s Overture to The School for Scandal was composed in 1931-33 for his graduation thesis from Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Barber decided to base the subject matter of his Overture on the eighteenth century comedy The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsely Sheridan, and it became the composer’s first widely performed orchestral score. The comedic story includes the Lady Sneerwell, whose antics ultimately lead to her demise at the hands of her servant, Snake.

Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety, was composed and premiered in 1949. Bernstein first encountered W.H. Auden’s narrative poem The Age of Anxiety shortly after its publication in 1947, which offered a narrative perspective on the mankind’s uncertainty following the horrendous events of World War II, and he vowed to set the subject matter to music. The Symphony No. 2 was commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky, and although Bernstein chose to title the work a “Symphony,” it defies the traditional paradigm in its scoring for piano and orchestra.

Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major, Op. 100 was composed in 1944 and premiered in 1945. The Fifth Symphony would prove to be the composer’s most expansive, and the premiere helped him to secure the Stalin Prize in 1946. Following the premiere in Moscow, Prokofiev wrote: “I regard the Fifth Symphony as the culmination of a long period of my creative life. I conceived of it as glorifying the grandeur of the human spirit…praising the free and happy man – his strength, his generosity, and the purity of his soul.” The success of the piece carried over to America, and Prokofiev appeared on the cover of TIME magazine.


ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Andrew Litton currently serves as music director of Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Colorado Symphony Orchestra, artistic director of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest, and conductor laureate of Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony. He guest conducts the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies and has a discography of over 120 recordings with awards including America’s Grammy, France’s Diapason d’Or, and many other honors.

First appointed music director in 2003, Litton will have the honor to celebrate the Bergen Philharmonic’s 250th anniversary in 2015. Under his leadership, the Philharmonic has taken numerous tours and recorded for the BIS and Hyperion labels. In addition to his work with Bergen and Colorado, Mr. Litton opened this season leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the London Proms and to open its Barbican series of concerts. He will also return to the BBC Scottish Symphony, the Bournemouth and RTE symphony orchestras, and the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, and he will make debuts with the NDR and Iceland symphony orchestras and the Bremen and Tampere philharmonics.

American pianist William Wolfram was the winner of the silver medal in both the William Kapell and the Naumberg International piano competitions. He also holds the distinction of bronze medalist of the prestigious Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. A versatile recitalist, concerto soloist, and chamber musician, he has garnered the acclaim of international critics. His concerto debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony under the baton of Leonard Slatkin was the first in a long succession of appearances and career relationships with numerous American orchestras such as the San Francisco, National, Dallas, Minnesota, and Seattle symphonies, among others. A very devoted supporter of contemporary music, he has close ties with many composers and has completed a recording project featuring the piano concertos of Edward Collins. His three previous recordings in the Naxos Liszt Complete Piano Music series have been highly acclaimed. Of Volume 31 The Guardian wrote: “William Wolfram’s contribution [to the Naxos Liszt series] is strikingly good. He clearly has all the necessary technique to confront any challenge Liszt’s piano writing throws at him…”


ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE

Bernstein & Prokofiev
Andrew Litton, conductor
William Wolfram, piano
Uihlein Hall, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Friday, February 6 | 8:00 p.m.
Meet the Music, Anello Atrium | 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 7 | 8:00 p.m.
Meet the Music, Anello Atrium | 7:00 p.m.

Tickets range from $25-105. For more information, please call 414.291.7605 or visit mso.org. Tickets may also be purchased through the Marcus Center Box Office at 414.273.7206.


ABOUT THE MSO

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, under the dynamic leadership of Music Director Edo de Waart, is among the finest orchestras in the nation and the largest cultural institution in Wisconsin. Now in his sixth season with the MSO, Maestro de Waart has led sold-out concerts, elicited critical acclaim, and conducted a celebrated performance at Carnegie Hall on May 11, 2012. The MSO’s full-time professional musicians perform over 135 classics, pops, family, education, and community concerts each season in venues throughout the state. Since its inception in 1959, the MSO has found innovative ways to give music a home in the region, develop music appreciation and talent among area youth, and raise the national reputation of Milwaukee.

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