Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Presents DIVINE DVORAK This Weekend

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Presents DIVINE DVORAK This Weekend

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra presents Divine Dvorak this weekend, 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.

Susan Babini has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Babini has been presented by Artists International and the Violoncello Society of New York and has appeared in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. In 2005, she appeared as both guest principal cellist and soloist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, performing Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante under Roy Goodman. She is a winner of Astral Artists' 2007 National Auditions and, as a winner of the San Francisco Conservatory's concerto competition, she performed Ernest Bloch's Schelomo with the Conservatory Orchestra.

Also an avid chamber musician, Ms. Babini was recently named principal cello of the New Century Chamber Orchestra. She toured Central Asia as a member of the Phoenix String Quartet, under the auspices of Carnegie Hall and the U.S. Department of State. She collaborated with the Daedelus String Quartet for the Rioult Dance Company in New York's Joyce Theater, performing Air by Aaron Jay Kernis. Other recent engagements include tours with the New Century Chamber Players and "Musicians from Marlboro," a solo recital for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and Brahms's B Major Piano Trio and Schumann's Piano Quartet at the Aspen Music Festival with renowned violinist Nadja Salerno- Sonnenberg and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott.


Divine Dvorak
Gilbert Varga, conductor Susan Babini, cello

Friday, May 30 | 11:15 a.m. Saturday, May 31 | 8:00 p.m. Sunday, June 1 | 2:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $25-$105. 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 2013.14 Classics Series is presented by UPAF. Friday Classics Series is sponsored by Chase. Saturday Classics Series is sponsored by Rockwell Automation. Sunday Classics Series is sponsored by Johnson Controls.


Ranked among the top orchestras in the country, the MSO is the largest cultural institution in Wisconsin. Since its inception in 1959, the orchestra has received critical acclaim for artistic excellence. The orchestra's full-time professional musicians perform more than 135 concerts each season. A cornerstone organization in Milwaukee's arts community, the MSO provides enrichment and education activities for audiences of every age, economic status, and background.