The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Presents DIVINE DVORAK, 5/30-6/1

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Presents DIVINE DVORAK, 5/30-6/1

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra presents Divine Dvorak on May 30- June 1, 2014 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Led by guest conductor Gilbert Varga and featuring Principal Cello Susan Babini, the program includes Elgar's Serenade for Strings, Schumann's Cello Concerto in A minor, and Dvorak's Slavonic Dances.

All concerts include Meet the Music, a free, interactive pre-concert discussion, held in Uihlein Hall at 10:15 a.m. on Friday and in Anello Atrium at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Friday's performance also includes a Pre-Concert Fashion Show at 10:15 a.m. in the Bradley Pavilion.

Elgar's Serenade in E minor for Strings, Opus 20, was composed in 1892. The work appears to have been derived from Elgar's Three Pieces for String Orchestra, which is now a lost composition. The serenade was originally an anniversary gift for Elgar's wife in 1892, but its professional premiere was not until 1896 in Belgium. The piece became one of Elgar's favorite compositions, calling it "the best thing I ever did."

Schumann's Cello Concerto in A minor, Opus 29 was composed in just 15 days in 1850 after Schumann relocated to take the position of music director of the Du?sseldorf Music Society. Schumann's wife Clara wrote about the piece, "The Romantic quality, the vivacity, the freshness, and humor, also the highly interesting interweaving of violoncello and orchestra, are indeed wholly ravishing..." The three movements are performed without pause.

Dvorak's Slavonic Dances, Opus 46 was composed in 1878. Dvorak had applied for an Austrian State Stipend where he came to the attention of Johannes Brahms. Brahms was so impressed that he wrote to his publisher, Fritz Simrock, to request he publish Dvorak's music. Simrock commissioned a set of Slavonic Dances for piano, four hands, which initiated a firestorm of public praise following their release. Soon after, Dvorak composed an orchestral version of the Dances.

Gilbert Varga, son of the celebrated Hungarian violinist Tibor Varga, studied under three very different and distinctive maestros: Franco Ferrara, Sergiu Celibidache, and Charles Bruck. A commanding and authoritative figure on the podium, Varga is renowned for his elegant baton technique, and has held positions with and guest conducted many of the major orchestras across the world. In North America, Varga regularly guest conducts the symphony orchestras of Houston, St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Utah, and Nashville amongst others, and in 2013.14 makes his debut with the orchestras of Kansas City and San Diego. In Europe, Varga works regularly with the major orchestras of Berlin, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Cologne, Budapest, Porto, Brussels, and Glasgow amongst others.

In May 2013, Varga was appointed principal conductor of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra, an appointment that comes at an exciting time for the orchestra as the city of Taipei embarks upon a journey to build the orchestra its own concert hall, a process in which Varga will be heavily involved as a consultant. Varga's discography includes recordings with various labels including ASV, Koch International, and Claves Records. His latest recording, released in January 2011, of concertos by Ravel and Prokofiev with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Anna Vinnitskaya on Nai?ve Records, was given five stars by BBC Music Magazine.