Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Press Release

Milwaukee Symphony Embraces The Artistry of Jennifer Koh

Violinist Jennifer Koh is recognized for her intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance.

By - Jan 19th, 2016 04:35 pm

MILWAUKEE, WIS. 01/19/2016– The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra led by music director Edo de Waart presents two performances with violinist Jennifer Koh on February 5 and 6 at 8:00 p.m. at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms will be followed by Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2.

Both concerts include Meet the Music, a free, interactive pre-concert discussion held one hour prior to concert start time in the Anello Atrium. Guest speaker Patrick Castillo will lead Meet the Music for this set of performances. Following Friday evening’s performance there will also be a Talkback Q&A with some of the concert’s performers.

Within Her Arms by Anna Clyne: The young British composer Anna Clyne (age 35) already boasts an impressive resume, one that includes composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 2008, shortly after the funeral for her mother, Ms. Clyne spotted a baroque-style violin in the window of a thrift store in Oxford. The instrument’s ornate scroll was carved in the shape of a gargoyle. She bought it for about nine dollars. That violin inspired several pieces for strings – works that expressed her profound sense of grief. Stylistically, they bring to mind several influences: the intertwining voices of consort music by English Renaissance composers like Byrd and Gibbons, folk traditions, and even Benjamin Britten.

Violin Concerto No. 2 by Bartók: Béla Bartók wrote his second violin concerto in 1937-38. A passionate anti-fascist, the composer was under attack from the Hungarian and Romanian newspapers at the time for his firm political stance. It wouldn’t be long before he left his native land, ultimately spending his last remaining years in the United States.

The opening theme of the concerto conveys a distinctly Hungarian tone. It derives its rhythmic vitality from the brilliant performing style of gypsy violinists. The second movement of the work is a set of formal variations, as requested by Zoltán Székely who premiered the work in 1939. The final movement is in sonata form with its principal melody being a rhythmically remodeled version of the first movement’s main theme.

Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27 by Rachmaninoff: Of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s three completed symphonies, his second is by far the most familiar and the most beloved. It was composed in Dresden, where he had moved with his wife and infant daughter to escape the celebrity of his native Russia. He considered himself first and foremost a composer despite several successful seasons as the conductor of the Imperial Opera at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Moving to Germany allowed Rachmaninoff more time to compose, but it also allowed him to escape the political turmoil that would put Russia on a path to revolution.

In addition to the composer’s warm melodic style, his multi-hued orchestral colors are on full display in this work. The instrumentation is opulent, but always varied and always discerning; nothing is overblown. Rachmaninoff handles the large-scale structures with confidence despite feeling he was not a gifted symphonist. In fact, after the premiere of his first symphony, criticism was so harsh it sent Rachmaninoff into a bout of depression. A successful Piano Concerto No. 2 was then followed by the extremely successful Symphony No. 2, both of which won Glinka Awards. This helped the composer regain a sense of success and enabled him to compose a substantial amount of additional works.


Edo de Waart continues his seventh season as the sixth music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in 2015.16. He also serves as chief conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and conductor laureate of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.

He is also much in demand as a guest conductor with the world’s leading orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, NHK Symphony Orchestra, and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Following his recent appearance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Tribune noted that de Waart: “paid the score, and the orchestra’s venerable Brahms tradition, the compliment of letting the music speak for itself.”

Internationally, de Waart has previously held posts with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also Chief Conductor of De Nederlandse Opera.

Edo de Waart’s extensive recording catalogue encompasses releases for Philips, Virgin, EMI, Telarc, and RCA. His most recent recordings are Mahler’s Symphony No.1 and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, both with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic. He has also long been an exponent of the music of John Adams, having conducted the first recording of Nixon in China in 1987 with the original cast from the world premiere.

Edo de Waart has received a number of awards for his musical achievements, including Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion and Honorary Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia. He was also appointed Honorary Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in recognition of his commitment to developing future generations of musicians in Hong Kong.

Violinist Jennifer Koh is recognized for her intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. With an impassioned musical curiosity, she is forging an artistic path of her own devising, choosing works that both inspire and challenge. She is dedicated to performing the violin repertoire of all eras from traditional to contemporary, believing that the past and present form a continuum. She is also committed to exploring connections in the works she performs, searching for similarities of voice among diverse composers and associations within the works of a single composer. For her forward-thinking approach to classical music, presenting a broad and eclectic range of repertoire and fostering multidisciplinary collaborations with artists of all types and styles, Ms. Koh has been named Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year.

Ms. Koh is passionate in her efforts to expand the violin repertoire and has established relationships with many of today’s composers, regularly commissioning and premiering new works. In addition to premiering works by the composers featured in her Bridge to Beethoven project this season, she also performs the world premieres of two works by Frederic Rzewski at the Library of Congress and Philips Collection in Washington, DC. Ms. Koh has performed world and U.S. premieres as part of her Bach and Beyond and Two x Four projects, and by composers ranging from Jennifer Higdon, Magnus Lindberg, Steve Mackey, Kaija Saariaho, Sean Shepherd, Augusta Read Thomas, Charles Wuorinen, and John Zorn, among others


The Artistry of Jennifer Koh

Edo De Waart, conductor

Jennifer Koh, violin

Uihlein Hall, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Friday, February 5 | 8:00 p.m.

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

Talkback Q&A, Anello Atrium | following the performance

Saturday, February 6 | 8:00 p.m.

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

Tickets range from $20-$110. Group rates are available. For more information, please call 414.291.7605 or visit Tickets may also be purchased through the Marcus Center Box Office at 414.273.7206.

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 seventh 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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