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A Classical Special Concert
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Saturday, October 1, 8pm
Copley Symphony Hall
Jahja Ling, conductor
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Jeff Thayer, violin
Che-Yen Chen, viola
Yao Zhao, cello
HÉROLD: Overture to Zampa
GOUNOD: "Dieu! quel frisson court dans mes veines!" ("Poison Aria") from Roméo et Juliette
FAURÉ: Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15
Selections for Soprano and Piano with Kathleen Battle and Jean-Yves Thibaudet:
(FAURÉ:“Mandoline” from Cinq mélodies ‘de Venise’, Op. 58, No. 1
DUPARC: Le manoir de Rosamonde
LISZT: Enfant, si j'étais roi)

RAVEL: Boléro

A new century begins with Opus 2011! Renowned lyric soprano Kathleen Battle and French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet join forces with the San Diego Symphony to open our new season in unforgettable, elegant style.

Purchase from this page for concert tickets only. Tickets for this concert can be added to a Jacobs Masterworks subscription for half price. Click Here to Subscribe Now!

Click here to purchase Opus 2011 Gala packages, which all include a concert ticket.

Wine Tasting! Join us before the concert for a fabulous wine tasting of our new San Diego Symphony wine ("The Tier One Wine Collection"), free with your ticket! (Ages 21 and above only.)

The wine tasting will be held inside Copley Symphony Hall. The tasting will start at 7pm on Friday and Saturday and 1pm on Sunday. Each event will include a small cup of wine and will be based on availability.


Quartet in C minor for Piano and Strings, Opus 15


Born May 13, 1845, Pamiers, France

Died November 4, 1924, Paris

            Fauré wrote the Quartet in C minor, one of the masterpieces of his early period, between 1876 and 1879, when he was in his early thirties and struggling to establish his reputation as a composer. The quartet was successfully premiered in Paris on February 14, 1880, but the composer was dissatisfied with the final movement and rewrote it in 1883, making it–as he said–“new from top to toe.” In its completed form, the Quartet in C minor is an extraordinary achievement, both for the range of its expression and for Fauré’s imaginative craftsmanship.

            The Allegro molto moderato opens with a sturdy theme in the strings, with off-the-beat accompaniment from the piano. The vigor and drive of this opening continue throughout the movement, and its rhythm–heard almost continuously in the piano–unifies the entire movement; the gentle second subject, announced by the viola and marked espressivo, gracefully sets off the energy of the opening episode. In the development Fauré brings back the opening theme, now slowed down and played gently, and the wonder is that a theme which moments before had moved forward martially can be so transformed and made to sing lyrically. In the coda, this opening theme recurs quietly in the viola as the movement draws to its calm conclusion.

            Fauré reverses the expected order of the interior movements and places the scherzo, marked Allegro vivo, second. The piano’s opening idea rocks along cheerfully above pizzicato accompaniment in the strings; alert listeners will recognize it as a variant of the espressivo second theme of the first movement. The scherzo reaches a cadence, and then in another pleasing surprise Fauré replaces the expected trio section with a graceful chorale for muted strings.

            Because of their many similarities, the final two movements should be considered together. The Adagio is built on the brief dotted phrase first heard in the cello: this rising figure will unify the final two movements. The lyric second episode, introduced by the violin, contains the same rhythm, and the opening theme of the finale–Allegro molto–rushes along on this same rising, dotted theme-shape. The energetic finale seems to be in motion throughout. Even when the viola sings the second theme, marked dolce e espressivo, this graceful melody assumes the rising shape that characterizes the final two movements. It is a measure of Fauré’s achievement in this music that so simple a figure can be made to yield such a range of expression. Buoyed along by its inexhaustible energy, the quartet rushes to its close.

            Given this music’s popularity today, it comes as a surprise to learn that Fauré had a great deal of trouble getting it published. No publisher wanted to take a chance on a little-known composer. The quartet was rejected by two of France’s major publishing firms and was accepted by a third only on the condition that the composer surrender all his rights to it. Desperate to have his work published, Fauré could do nothing but accept those terms. He never made a penny on this music.


Selections for Soprano and Piano
(To Be Announced From the Stage)




Born March 7, 1875, Ciboure, Basse-Pyrennes

Died December 28, 1937, Paris


            Even before its use in the 1979 Blake Edwards film 10, Ravel’s Boléro was one of the most famous works ever written for orchestra, familiar to millions around the world and a favorite even with those who claim to hate classical music. Yet this dazzling piece is remarkable for the utter simplicity of its material. Ravel himself described it as “seventeen minutes of orchestra without any music” and said that it was simply “one very long, gradual crescendo.” But it is just these “non-musical” materials–the hypnotic rhythms, subtle shifts of instrumental color, avoidance of any kind of development, and cumulative expressive power–that make Boléro such a stunning experience in the concert hall (and that have had such a strong influence on today’s minimalist composers).

            Originally, a boléro was a moderately-paced Spanish dance in triple-time in which the dancers sang and accompanied themselves with castanets. Ravel excludes the sound of voices and begins with the simplest of openings: a snare-drum lays out the two-measure rhythmic pattern that will repeat throughout Boléro. Solo flute plays the languorous main idea, a lilting, winding melody that is repeated and extended by other wind instruments. And then Ravel simply repeats this material, subtly varying its orchestration as it gradually grows louder. The music is full of striking effects that make use of uncommon instruments (three kinds of saxophone, E-flat clarinet, and oboe d’amore) or set instruments in unusual registers. Ravel may have been quite right to call Boléro “orchestral tissue without music,” but he can play this tissue for all it’s worth: at the close, he makes one harmonic adjustment, shifting from C major to E-flat major, and in this context even so simple a modulation seems a cataclysmic event. Grinding dissonances drive Boléro to a thunderous close on a great rush of sound.

            Though it is most often heard today in the concert hall, Boléro began life as a ballet–the dancer Ida Rubinstein asked Ravel for a ballet with a Spanish atmosphere, and he wrote this score for her in 1928. In Rubinstein’s choreography, a young woman in gypsy dress mounts a table in a smoky tavern and begins to dance. Men surround the table and begin to pound out the bolero rhythm as her dance grows in excitement. The climax brings an explosion–knives are drawn, but trouble is avoided and everyone vanishes with the last chord. So exciting was the premiere in Paris on November 22, 1928, that the audience rushed the stage and Rubinstein herself barely escaped injury in the resulting tumult!

-Program notes by Eric Bromberger


Soprano Kathleen Battle’s luminous voice has been called “…without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world” (The Washington Post). Yet beyond the glory of her singing, in a career filled with countless accolades, honors and major milestones, what has perhaps distinguished her most is her almost magical ability to create an unwavering emotional bond between herself, her music and her audience.

In her youth, this native of Portsmouth, Ohio, the youngest of seven children, sang in church and school, and envisioned a future as a music teacher. Fortunately for audiences around the world, she found other ways to share her love of music—and through her natural gifts, innate intelligence, and hard work, her soaring voice has carried her to the heights of the classical music world. Indeed, throughout a remarkable career that has brought her to the stages of the world’s leading opera houses and major concert halls, critics have never tired of rhapsodizing over her limpid, unmistakable sound. In quite poetic terms, they have compared it to “the ethereal beauty of winter moonlight” (The Washington Post), “a paradoxical meeting of earth and sky” (Philadelphia Inquirer), and “cream from a miraculous, bottomless pitcher” (The New York Times).

The range of Miss Battle’s repertoire spans three centuries from the Baroque era to contemporary works. She has enjoyed some of her greatest successes in the opera house in repertoire ranging from Handel (Cleopatra in the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere staging of Giulio Cesare) to Richard Strauss (Sophie, Zdenka, Zerbinetta). For her Covent Garden debut as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Miss Battle became the first American to be honored with a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a New Opera Production. She has similarly distinguished herself as one of our generation’s finest interpreters of Mozart (Susanna, Despina, Pamina, and Zerlina), as well as the bel canto operas of Rossini (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) and Donizetti (L’Elisir d'Amore, Don Pasquale, La Fille du Regiment). In the words of critic Tim Page, “Miss Battle’s natural territory is music of sweetness, serenity, and girlish ecstasy. Within this repertoire she is all but unequaled.”

In recital, Kathleen Battle has mesmerized audiences around the globe with her unique artistry and vocal beauty. Of her Carnegie Hall recital debut, New York Newsday declared, “In an age when the vocal recital has practically gone the way of the dinosaur, this was a thrilling case for its return.” For the CD of this recital, released on DG, Miss Battle received one of three Grammy® Awards for Best Classical Vocal Soloist. The Australian echoed the sentiment of critics around the world, saying, “The Sydney Opera House has played host to any number of great singers…but it’s unlikely there has ever been (or perhaps ever will be) a performance to match the recital American soprano Kathleen Battle gave.”

Kathleen Battle’s gifts as a singer extend beyond the realm of classical music. Her work as a great interpreter of spirituals is documented on a joint recital with Jessye Norman, Spirituals in Concert (DG). Her pure emotional power in this music of joy and sorrow cuts through all cultural boundaries. As the Vienna Kurier put it, “Kathleen Battle sang so beautifully in the spiritual ‘Heaven is one beautiful place,’ she came pretty close to heaven.”

Kathleen Battle earned both her Bachelor and Master degrees from the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. She has been awarded seven honorary doctoral degrees, including from her Alma Mater, the University of Cincinnati. In honor of her outstanding artistic achievements, Miss Battle was inducted into the “NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame”, and in 2002 into the “Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame”. She is the first recipient of the “Ray Charles Award” bestowed upon her by Wilberforce University. Heady accomplishments indeed for an artist whose earliest connection to music was simply feeling “blessed to have a voice that somebody else wanted to hear.” (-critic Alex Wang)


Hailed as "one of the best pianists in the world," Jean-Yves Thibaudet continues to captivate audiences around the world with his thrilling performances, profound artistry, poetic musicality and dazzling technical prowess. Thibaudet is sought after by today's foremost orchestras, festivals, conductors and collaborative musicians for his enlightened interpretations and charisma. On June 18, 2010, the Hollywood Bowl honored Thibaudet for his musical achievement by inducting him into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.

Following summer performances at the Festival del Sole, Aspen, Saratoga, and Tanglewood festivals, Mr. Thibaudet began his 2010-11 season in Switzerland with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit. Mr. Thibaudet's touring highlights that season included a tour of China with the London Symphony Orchestra as well as a German tour with the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin. Performances abroad included appearances with the Stockholm Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre National de France, Toronto Symphony, Montreal Symphony, MDR Symphony Orchestra, RAI National Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre de Paris. Mr. Thibaudet also appeared in the U.S. with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Detroit, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Minnesota and Seattle. A vivid recitalist, Mr. Thibaudet embarked on a two-continent recital tour in January and February 2011, with performances in Berlin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Spain, California, Missouri, Colorado, Michigan, Florida and New York's Carnegie Hall. Chamber music dates in Los Angeles, France and Belgium rounded out his eclectic schedule.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet is an exclusive recording artist for Decca, which has released over 40 of his albums, earning the Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d'Or, Choc de la Musique, a Gramophone Award, two Echo awards and the Edison Prize. In Spring 2010, Mr. Thibaudet released his latest CD, Gershwin, featuring "big jazz band" orchestrations of Rhapsody in Blue, variations on I Got Rhythm and the Concerto in F live with the Baltimore Symphony and music director Marin Alsop. On his Grammy®-nominated recording, Saint-Saëns, Piano Concerti Nos. 2&5, released in fall 2007, Mr. Thibaudet is joined by long-standing collaborator, conductor Charles Dutoit, and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Also released in 2007, Thibaudet's album Aria—Opera Without Words features transcriptions of opera arias by Saint-Saëns, R. Strauss, Gluck, Korngold, Bellini, J. Strauss II, P. Grainger and Puccini; some of the transcriptions are by Mikhashoff, Sgambati and Brassin, others—Thibaudet's own. Thibaudet was the soloist on the Oscar® and Golden Globe award-winning soundtrack of Universal Pictures' Atonement and the Oscar-nominated Pride and Prejudice. Among other recordings are Satie: The Complete Solo Piano Music, and the jazz albums Reflections on Duke: Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays the music of Duke Ellington and Conversations with Bill Evans, his tribute to two of jazz history's greats.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet was born in Lyon, France, where he began his piano studies at age five and made his first public appearance at age seven. At twelve, he entered the Paris Conservatory to study with Aldo Ciccolini and Lucette Descaves, a friend and collaborator of Ravel. At age fifteen, he won the Premier Prix du Conservatoire and three years later, won the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York City. In 2001, the Republic of France awarded Thibaudet the prestigious Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2002, he was awarded the Premio Pegasus from the Spoleto Festival in Italy for his artistic achievements and his long-standing involvement with the festival. In 2007, he was awarded the Victoire d'Honneur, a lifetime career achievement award and the highest honor given by France's Victoires de la Musique.

2011 Opus Gala Concert
October 1, 2011

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