Percussionist Colin Currie Makes Debut At Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
A sleeping princess, a beloved symphony and a modern rhythmic masterpiece await at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's BNY Mellon Grand Classics weekend on February 10 and 12 at Heinz Hall.
A near-perfect classic, Tchaikovsky's score for The Sleeping Beauty ballet is filled with magic and poetry and, in fact, the composer himself thought it was one of his best works! Music Director Manfred Honeck leads this "dancing symphony" about fate and life, woven from an old tale of a princess who pricks her finger and is put under a 100-year spell to be awakened only by the kiss of a handsome prince.
Dynamic virtuoso Colin Currie makes his debut with Composer of the Year Sir James MacMillan's dazzling and sensational percussion concerto, Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, one of MacMillan's most performed works. (The composer will be in attendance during the weekend.) The program opens with Prokofiev's much-loved Classical Symphony, a work whose charming surface belies the complexity underneath.
A pre-concert talk with Sir James MacMillan, open to all ticketholders and led by Assistant Conductor Andrés Franco, will occur on stage one hour before each concert. Students from the Youth Chamber Connection will perform in the Grand Lobby of Heinz Hall one hour before each concert start. These performances are free and open to ticketholders. Program notes for the weekend are available online at pittsburghsymphony.org/Beauty and on the PSO mobile app the day of the concert.
There will be a post-concert chamber music performance immediately following the concerts on both Friday and Sunday. Jennifer Orchard, violin, Mikhail Istomin, cello, and Dimitri Papadimitriou, piano, will present Rachmaninoff's Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor. This performance is free and open to ticketholders.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $20 to $94, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900 or visiting pittsburghsymphony.org/Beauty.
The Pittsburgh Symphony would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for its 2016-2017 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Radio station WQED-FM 89.3 and WQEJ-FM89.7 is the official voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
About the Artists
Renowned for his distinctive interpretations, MANFRED HONECK has served as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. He and the orchestra are consistently recognized for their performances and are celebrated both in Pittsburgh and abroad. To great acclaim, they regularly perform in major music capitals and festivals, among them the BBC Proms, Musikfest Berlin, Lucerne Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Grafenegg Festival, Carnegie Hall and the Musikverein in Vienna. This successful collaboration has also been extensively documented on recordings. The SACDs released by Reference Records, most recently Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, have received numerous rave reviews, as well as two Grammy Award nominations.
Born in Austria, Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado and was subsequently engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where earned the prestigious European Conductor's Award in 1993. Other early posts include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra, and Oslo, where he was appointed principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He went on to become music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2007 to 2011, Honeck was music director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, where he conducted premieres of operas by Berlioz, Mozart, Verdi, Strauss, Poulenc and Wagner. Other operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Royal Opera of Copenhagen and the Salzburg Festival.
As a guest conductor Honeck has worked with the world's leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he conducted in the United States include New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has been artistic director of the International Concerts Wolfegg in Germany for more than 20 years.
Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College, Carnegie Mellon University and the Catholic University of America. Most recently, he was awarded the title of honorary professor by the Austrian federal president.
Hailed as "the world's finest and most daring percussionist" (Spectator), COLIN CURRIE is a solo and chamber artist at the peak of his powers. Championing new music at the highest level, Currie is the soloist of choice for many of today's foremost composers and he performs regularly with the world's leading orchestras and conductors.
A dynamic and adventurous soloist, Currie's unrivalled commitment to commissioning and creating new music was recognized in 2015 by the Royal Philharmonic Society who awarded him the Instrumentalist Award. From his earliest years, Currie forged a pioneering path in creating new music for percussion, winning the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award in 2000 and receiving a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2005. Currie has premiered works by composers such as Steve Reich, Elliott Carter, Louis Andriessen, HK Gruber, James MacMillan, Anna Clyne, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Ross Edwards, Jennifer Higdon, Kalevi Aho, Rolf Wallin, Kurt Schwertsik, Simon Holt, Alexander Goehr, Andrew Norman, Dave Maric, Julia Wolfe and Nico Muhly. Looking ahead, in the coming seasons, Currie will premiere new works by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Harrison Birtwistle and Andy Akiho.
Currie is artist in association at London's Southbank Centre, where he was the focus of a major percussion festival Metal Wood Skin in 2014, featuring premieres by Steve Reich, Anna Clyne, James MacMillan Percussion Concerto No. 2 with the
Philharmonia Orchestra and Louis Andriessen's Tapdance with Asko-Schoenberg Ensemble alongside school's concerts and percussion workshops. Currie is also artist in residence with Oregon Symphony Orchestra from 2015-2016 to 2017-2018. The three-season residency includes annual performances with Oregon Symphony Orchestra, the world premiere of a new percussion concerto by Andy Akiho, and extensive education and outreach work.
Highlights of the 2016-2017 season include the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Percussion Concerto with Marin Alsop and the Britten-Pears Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall, and a series of solo recitals including Washington, Princeton,
Boston and Glasgow. Currie also makes his debut with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, performing MacMillan's Veni, Veni, Emmanuel with Manfred Honeck conducting. Currie ends the season performing both MacMillan percussion concerti in a two-week tour with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James MacMillan. Other highlights include performances with Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Sinfonia Rotterdam and at the Grand Teton Music Festival.
Currie's dynamic ensemble the Colin Currie Group was formed in 2006 to celebrate the music of Steve Reich and made its five-star debut at the BBC Proms. Since then, with Reich's personal endorsement Currie and his ensemble have taken on the role of ambassadors of Drumming, which they have performed at many venues and festivals internationally. Highlights of the 2016-2017 season include their debut performance at Macau International Music Festival with Drumming, a return visit to Tokyo Opera City, Tehillim at Royal Festival Hall and two performances in Hamburg as part of the opening season of the Elbphilharmonie.
Currie has recorded many concerto, recital and chamber works including most recently Andrew Norman's Switch with Utah Symphony and Thierry Fischer, released on Reference Records. His recording of Rautavaara's Incantations with the Helsinki Philharmonic/Storgårds (Ondine) was released to critical acclaim and won a 2012 Gramophone Award. Previous releases by Currie include MacMillan's Veni, Veni, Emmanuel with the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic/MacMillan on Challenge Classics, Jennifer Higdon's Percussion Concerto with the London Philharmonic/Alsop, which won a 2010 Grammy Award, and a recital disc, Borrowed Time, featuring music by Dave Maric (Onyx). Currie recently recorded Steve Reich's Quartet with Colin Currie Group to be released by Nonesuch Records in coming seasons; his recording of Carter will be released on Ondine in 2017 as will his recording of Bartok on Hyperion.
SIR JAMES MACMILLAN is one of today's most successful composers and is also internationally active as a conductor. His musical language is flooded with influences from his Scottish heritage, Catholic faith, social conscience and close connection with Celtic folk music, blended with influences from Far Eastern, Scandinavian and Eastern European music.
MacMillan first became internationally recognized after the extraordinary success of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie at the BBC Proms in 1990. His prolific output has since been performed and broadcast around the world. His major works include percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, which has received close to 500 performances, a cello concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich and four symphonies. Recent major works include his Percussion Concerto No. 2 for Colin Currie, co-commissioned by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Edinburgh International Festival, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and, most recently, Symphony No.4, premiered by BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Runnicles.
MacMillan enjoys a flourishing career as conductor of his own music alongside a range of contemporary and standard repertoire, praised for the composer's insight he brings to each score. He was principal guest conductor of the Netherlands Radio Kamer Filharmonie until 2013 and was composer/conductor of the BBC Philharmonic from 2000 to 2009; he has conducted orchestras such as the National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Vienna Radio Symphony, Danish Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and NHK Symphony Orchestra among others. MacMillan was composer in residence at the 2012 Grafenegg Festival and a London Symphony Orchestra Portrait Artist in the 2009-2010 season.
In October 2014, MacMillan founded his music festival, The Cumnock Tryst, which takes place annually in his native Ayrshire. MacMillan was awarded a CBE in 2004 and a Knighthood in 2015. MacMillan has directed many of his own works on disc for Chandos, BIS and BMG, most recently a series on Challenge Records including MacMillan's violin concerto A Deep but Dazzling Darkness and percussion concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel with Colin Currie and the Netherlands Radio Kamer Filharmonie. His latest release on Harmonia Mundi with Britten Sinfonia included his Oboe Concerto and won the 2016 BBC Music Magazine Award.
The PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, known for its artistic excellence for more than 120 years, is credited with a rich history of the world's finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), André Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004). This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah" in 1944 and John Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. Its "Pittsburgh Live!" series with Reference Recordings has resulted in back-to-back Grammy Award nominations in 2015 and 2016. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series "Previn and the Pittsburgh." The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900 - including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America-the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world's greatest orchestras.
HEINZ HALL FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc., a non-profit organization, and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The cornerstone of Pittsburgh's Cultural District, Heinz Hall hosts many events that do not feature its world-renowned Orchestra including Broadway shows, popular touring artists, comedians, speakers and much more. For a full calendar of upcoming non-symphony events at the hall, visit heinzhall.org.
(Photo Credit: Linda Nylind)