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Overview,

OPUS 2012 GALA CONCERT: LANG LANG PLAYS TCHAIKOVSKY
A Classical Special Concert
Saturday, October 6, 8pm
Copley Symphony Hall

Jahja Ling, conductor
Lang Lang, piano

TCHAIKOVSKY: Sleeping Beauty Suite
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23

International piano superstar Lang Lang is our special guest for the San Diego Symphony’s OPUS 2012 Gala, our most important fundraising event and concert of the year. Lang Lang will perform Piotr Tchaikovsky’s justly famous Piano Concerto No. 1, and the orchestra opens the evening with Tchaikovsky’s elegant Sleeping Beauty Suite under the baton of music director Jahja Ling.

Purchase Single tickets for the OPUS 2012 Gala Concert with Lang Lang ONLY from this page.

CLICK HERE NOW to reserve your full OPUS 2012 Gala Evening Package which includes cocktails and dinner upstairs at The University Club, the concert downstairs, and then a post-concert party back at The UClub!


Notes,

The Sleeping Beauty Suite, Op. 66a

PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY

Born May 7, 1840, Votkinsk

Died November 6, 1893, St. Petersburg

 

In the spring of 1888, while he was composing his Fifth Symphony, Tchaikovsky had a visit from the Director of the Imperial Theatres in St. Petersburg, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, who proposed that Tchaikovsky compose the score for a new ballet. It would be based on the fairy tale La belle au bois dormant, originally collected by the French writer Charles Perrault (1628-1703) and published as part of his Contes de la mere l’oye (Tales of Mother Goose). The tale is so familiar (from Walt Disney and other presentations) that it hardly needs retelling. The infant Princess Aurora is blessed by six good fairies at her christening, but the evil Carabosse–who was not invited–shows up in a carriage drawn by rats and pronounces a curse: one day Princess Aurora will prick her finger, and die. The Lilac Fairy softens the curse: the princess will not die, but will fall into a slumber for a hundred years, to be awakened by the kiss of her true love. And of course at the ball when she is courted by four suitor-princes, the sixteen-year-old Aurora is given a spindle by the disguised Carabosse, pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep along with the rest of the court. One hundred years later, Prince Florimund fights his way through the thicket that the Lilac Fairy has caused to grow up around the castle, defeats the evil Carabosse and discovers the sleeping princess. He awakens her with a kiss, and the ballet’s festive final act is the celebration of their wedding.

Tchaikovsky’s one previous ballet, Swan Lake, had been a disaster at its premiere in 1877, and he was wary of another such experience. But he was attracted to Perrault’s tale and worked closely with choreographer Marius Petipa. Tchaikovsky sketched the ballet between October 1888 and the spring of 1889 and completed the orchestration on September 1, 1889. The premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on January 15, 1890–attended by the czar–was a huge success. Tchaikovsky, who was perpetually worried about having written himself out, could finally take pleasure in one of his own compositions: “The subject is so poetic (and) it lends itself so admirably to music that I enjoyed composing it very much and worked with a zeal and eagerness that always makes for good results.” For once, the critics agreed, and The Sleeping Beauty has been universally judged one of Tchaikovsky’s finest works. Diaghilev gave it an impressive revival in 1921, and Stravinsky’s judgment of Tchaikovsky’s score was succinct: “a masterpiece.”

This concert offers five movements from Sleeping Beauty which include some of the most famous scenes and some of the most attractive music from the ballet. The exciting Introduction to the Prologue is full of energy and expectancy; after its dramatic opening gesture, the English horn sings a flowing melody that will be associated with the Lilac Fairy and her protective intervention after Carabosse’s curse. The soaring Adagio (sometimes known as the Rose Adagio) is the music that accompanies the scene in which the four suitor-princes approach the princess, each with the gift of a rose; the teenaged princess dances this movement, which begins with a long harp cadenza, before the four princes. In the Pas de caractère, Puss-in-Boots confronts the White Cat, and Tchaikovsky has the orchestra give us the arch sound of their dueling meows. The elegant Panorama is the music that accompanies Prince Florimund’s approach to the castle where Aurora lies sleeping. The meter and accompaniment are in 6/8, but the violins’ silky melody seems to be in 3/4, and those two rhythms tug nicely at each other throughout. The famous Valse comes from Act I, where it is part of the princess’ sixteenth birthday celebration; danced by xvillagers carrying garlands of flowers, it is sometimes known as the Garland Waltz.

 

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23

PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY

 

Tchaikovsky drafted this most famous of piano concertos in November and December 1874, when he was a young professor at the Moscow Conservatory. Only modestly talented as a pianist and insecure about his handling of larger forms, Tchaikovsky sought the advice of Nicholas Rubinstein, head of the Conservatory and the man to whom he intended to dedicate the concerto. Rubinstein listened in silence as Tchaikovsky played the new work through, and then there burst from Rubinstein’s mouth a mighty torrent of words. He spoke quietly at first, then he waxed hot, and finally he resembled Zeus hurling thunderbolts. It seems that my concerto was utterly worthless, absolutely unplayable. Certain passages were so commonplace and awkward they could not be improved, and the piece as a whole was bad, trivial, vulgar. I had stolen this from somebody and that from somebody else, so that only two or three pages were good for anything and all the rest should be wiped out or radically rewritten.

Stung (and furious), Tchaikovsky refused to change a note, erased the dedication to Rubinstein and instead dedicated the concerto to the German pianist-conductor Hans von Bülow, who had championed his music. Bülow promptly took the concerto on a tour of the United States, and it was in Boston on October 25, 1875, that Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto was heard for the first time.

It was a huge success on that occasion, and Bülow played it repeatedly in this country to rhapsodic reviews. A critic in Boston, taking note of that success, described the concerto as an “extremely difficult, strange, wild, ultra modern Russian Concerto,” but back in Russia the composer read the press clippings and was beside himself with happiness: “Think what healthy appetites these Americans must have! Each time Bülow was obliged to repeat the whole finale of my concerto! Nothing like that happens in our country.” It only remains to be said that Rubinstein eventually saw the error of his early condemnation and became one of the concerto’s great champions (it should also be noted that in 1889–perhaps more aware of Rubinstein’s criticisms than he cared to admit Tchaikovsky did in fact take the concerto through a major revision, and it is in this form that we know it today).

The concerto has one of the most dramatic beginnings in all the literature, ringing with horn fanfares and cannonades of huge piano chords, followed by one of Tchaikovsky’s Great Tunes, in which that horn fanfare is transformed into a flowing melody for strings. This opening has become extremely famous, but this introductory section has many quirks. It is in the “wrong” key (D-flat Major), and–however striking it may be–it never returns in any form: Tchaikovsky simply abandons all this tremendous material when he gets to the main section of the movement. This “real” beginning, marked Allegro con spirito, is finally in the correct key of B-flat minor, and the piano’s skittering main subject is reportedly based on a tune Tchaikovsky heard a blind beggar whistle at a fair in the Ukraine. To his patroness, Madame von Meck, Tchaikovsky wrote: “It is curious that in [the Ukraine] every blind beggar sings exactly the same tune with the same refrain. I have used part of this refrain in my pianoforte concerto.” The expected secondary material quickly appears–a chorale-like theme for winds and a surging, climbing figure for strings–though Tchaikovsky evades expectations by including multiple cadenzas for the soloist in this movement. The piano writing is of the greatest difficulty (much of it in great hammered octaves), and the movement drives to a dramatic close.

The Andantino simplice is aptly named, for this truly is simple music in the best sense of that term: over pizzicato chords, solo flute sings the gentle main theme, an island of calm after the searing first movement. A scherzo-like central episode marked Prestissimo leads to the return of the opening material and a quiet close. The finale, Allegro con fuoco, is also well named, for here is music full of fire. It is a rondo based on the piano’s nervous, dancing main theme, and while calmer episodes break into this furious rush, the principal impression this music makes is of white-hot energy, and this “strange, wild, ultra-modern Russian Concerto” rushes to a knock-out close that is just as impressive to audiences today as it was to that first Boston audience in 1875.

-Program notes by Eric Bromberger

 

WHY THIS PROGRAM?

 

Jahja Ling was excited when he told me, “When Lang Lang assured us that he would play the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto, I knew that I ought to program some festive ballet music before that. The Gala is an occasion that needs festive music as well as brilliance like that provided by Lang Lang.” In the conductor’s deciding that music from The Sleeping Beauty was perhaps the most brilliant and festive of the great Tchaikovsky ballet scores, the choice was made. “The First Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto on this program is a great lead-in to the program we will give in two weeks, when the rarely performed Second Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto will be played here. Your rarely see both in one season!”

            The Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto’s enormous popularity has led to its being given at these concerts over twenty times over the seasons. Excerpts, mainly the popular waltz, have been played at times by the SDSO from the score for The Sleeping Beauty, but this is the first time that an actual suite of numbers has been programmed.

- Melvin G. Goldzband, Symphony Archivist

Artists,

Heralded as the “hottest artist on the classical music planet” by the New York Times and the “world’s ambassador of the keyboard” by The New Yorker, pianist Lang Lang has played sold out recitals and concerts in every major city in the world and is the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and all the top American orchestras.

As a testimony to his success, Lang Lang recently appeared in the 2009 “Time 100” – Time magazine's annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2008, over four billion people viewed Lang Lang’s performance in Beijing’s opening ceremony for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, where he was seen as a symbol of the youth and the future of China. In July 2012 he relayed the London Olympic torch in London just prior to the opening of the XXX Olympiad. This status has inspired over 40 million Chinese children to learn to play classical piano – a phenomenon coined by The Today Show as "the Lang Lang effect." Recognizing Lang Lang's powerful cultural influence, in 2008 The Recording Academy named him their Cultural Ambassador to China. Most recently, Lang Lang has been chosen as an official worldwide ambassador to the 2010 Shanghai Expo, and he played at the opening ceremony.

Continuing his presence on the world stage, Lang Lang was featured at the 2008 Grammy® Awards, pairing up with jazz great Herbie Hancock for an astounding performance that was broadcast live to 45 million viewers worldwide. The two pianists continued their collaboration with an inaugural world tour in summer 2009.

For nearly a decade Lang Lang has been giving back to children around the world through volunteer activities as diverse as mentoring rising young talented pianists, convening 100 piano students in concert, performing for sick children in hospitals, delivering classical music recitals in underserved and remote communities, and donating his musical talents to raise awareness of other charitable causes. Lang Lang’s charitable efforts led to the recent launch of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation with the mission of inspiring the next generation of classical music lovers and performers by cultivating tomorrow’s top pianists, championing music education at the forefront of technology, and building a young audience through live music experiences. Through the strategic work of his new foundation which is committed to children and music education, Lang Lang works with exceptional partners to inspire young people to believe that music can make life better. The Financial Times once described Lang Lang as “evangelical in his efforts to spread the popularity of classical music.” In May 2009, Lang Lang and his three chosen young scholars from the foundation – aged between 6 and 10 years old – performed together on The Oprah Winfrey Show on "Oprah's Search for the World's Most Smartest and Most Talented Kids." Lang Lang is deeply committed to creating and participating in programs that bring sustained interest for music into the lives of children. As he noted after the Foundation launch event, “I have taken on a second career!”

In 2011, the Lang Lang Music World was launched, which is a multi-functioning arts complex located in Shenzhen and Chongqing, China, where children can go to receive piano education, participate in master classes and competitions, attend concerts and purchase Lang Lang-brand educational products. With the mission of sharing Lang Lang’s global view, experiences and knowledge in piano education, the Lang Lang Music World nurtures and provides exclusive opportunities for young talent through its unique platform.

Lang Lang continues to give master classes regularly throughout the world at the invitation of the most prestigious music institutions, including the Curtis Institute of Music, Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music and Hanover Conservatory, as well as all the top conservatories in China where he holds honorary professorships. He has held music residencies, which include master classes for exceptional students, in Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco, London, Rome and Stockholm. In addition to his numerous commitments, Lang Lang holds the title of the first Ambassador of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. His role in this groundbreaking project, created by YouTube and Google, reflects his devotion to building new audiences and bringing classical music to young people worldwide.

In the 2011-12 Season, he acted as the Creative Director of the Ascent Series at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and holds residency. At the beginning of that season, he performed at the San Francisco Symphony’s 100th Anniversary Gala concert and the Last Night Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In addition, he played on tour with the Concertgebouw, Vienna Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic. On October 22nd, 2011, his Liszt 200th birthday concert with Philadelphia Orchestra and Charles Dutoit was broadcast live in over 300 movie theaters in the United States and 200 cinemas in Europe, marking the first classical music cinemacast to be headlined by solo artist.

Lang Lang’s biography, Journey of a Thousand Miles, published by Random House in eleven languages, was recently released to critical acclaim. As part of his commitment to the education of children, he released a version of his autobiography specifically for younger readers, entitled Playing with Flying Keys.

Tens of thousands of people have enjoyed Lang Lang’s performances in open-air concerts in parks and venues around the globe, including Central Park in New York City, Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Theaterplatz in Dresden and Derby Park in Hamburg. Lang Lang participated in the opening concert at Munich's Olympic Stadium with Mariss Jansons, marking the commencement of the World Cup Games. In celebratory concerts for the closing of 2008 Euro Cup finals, Lang Lang played with the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta in front of Schönbrunn Palace.

Continuing his work with world-famous conductors, Lang Lang has performed under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic at the Waldbühne, Daniel Barenboim with the Staatskapelle Berlin at the Philharmonie, and Seiji Ozawa for the New Year’s Eve gala opening of the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

In December 2007, Lang Lang was guest soloist at the Nobel Prize concert in Stockholm, an event attended by Nobel Laureates and members of the Royal Family. He returned as soloist for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony and concert for President Barack Obama.

Lang Lang has become the face of numerous global campaigns. Steinway has recognized Lang Lang's popularity with children by creating five versions of the “Lang Lang™ Steinway” designed for early music education. This is the first time in its 150-year history that Steinway has ever used an artist’s name to produce pianos. Lang Lang is a global brand ambassador for Sony Electronics, with whom he anticipates achieving innovative and creative possibilities for the future. He is proud to start his collaboration with Telefonica as their International Brand Ambassador and Volkswagen Group as Global Ambassador. Lang Lang is outfitted by Giorgio Armani.

Lang Lang began playing piano at the age of 3, and by the age of 5, he had won the Shenyang Competition and had given his first public recital. Entering Beijing’s Central Music Conservatory at age 9, he won first prize at the Tchaikovsky International Young Musicians Competition and played the complete 24 Chopin Études at the Beijing Concert Hall at age 13. Lang Lang’s break into stardom came at age 17, when he was called upon for a dramatic last-minute substitution at the “Gala of the Century,” playing a Tchaikovsky concerto with the Chicago Symphony. Following this gigantic debut, he performed successful concerts around the world. The Times in London remarked: “Lang Lang took a sold-out Albert Hall by storm… This could well be history in the making.”

Lang Lang has made numerous TV appearances, including The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, CBS’s Early Show and 60 Minutes among many others. He has been featured on every major TV network and in news and lifestyle magazines worldwide, including such diverse publications as The New Yorker, Esquire, Vogue, The Times, Financial Times, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Die Welt, Reader’s Digest and People. Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as the “biggest, most exciting keyboard talent encountered in many years,” Lang Lang has progressed from one triumphant appearance to the next.

Lang Lang has performed for numerous international dignitaries including the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Barack Obama, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, President Hu Jin-Tao of China, President Horst Koehler of Germany, H.R.H. Prince Charles, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Poland President Lech Kaczynski. Most recently, he performed for President Barack Obama and President Hu Jin-tao at the White House State Dinner and recently performed on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert for Elizabeth II.

In 2004, Lang Lang was appointed International Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Lang Lang has contributed and worked to raise funds and awareness for earthquake relief efforts in China and Haiti. These efforts included auctioning the red Steinway piano played during his 2008 New York Central Park concert, donating the net proceeds to the American Red Cross China Earthquake fund, and organizing a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall, donating the net proceeds to UNICEF’s Earthquake Relief Fund in Haiti. As Chairman of the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award Project, Lang Lang celebrates another aspect of arts commitment. He also currently serves on the Weill Music Institute Advisory Committee as part of Carnegie Hall’s educational program and is the youngest member of Carnegie Hall’s Artistic Advisory Board. He has been added as one of the 250 Young Global Leaders picked by the World Economic Forum and received the 2010 Crystal Award in Davos. In May 2011, Lang Lang received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales at the Royal College of Music, and received his second Honorary Doctor Degree in Musical Arts at the Manhattan School of Music in May 2012. In December 2011, he was honored with the highest prize awarded by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China. In August 2012, he received the highest German civilian honour, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, in recognition of his distinguished services to music.

Lang Lang is the featured soloist on the Golden Globe® winning score The Painted Veil composed by Alexandre Desplat and can be heard on the soundtrack of The Banquet composed by Tan Dun. Most recently, he is the featured soloist on the movie My Week with Marilyn. All of his albums have entered the top classical charts as well as many pop charts around the globe. His album of the First and Fourth Beethoven Piano concertos with L’Orchestre de Paris and Maestro Christoph Eschenbach debuted at #1 on the Classical Billboard Chart. Lang Lang also appeared on Billboard’s New Artist chart at the highest position ever for a classical artist. In 2007, he was nominated for a Grammy® Award, becoming the first Chinese artist to be nominated for Best Instrumental Soloist. He was honored by The Recording Academy with the 2007 Presidential Merit Award; past recipients have included Zubin Mehta and Luciano Pavarotti. Lang Lang recently recorded the movie soundtrack of the Japanese blockbuster film Nodame Cantabile, Chopin 24 Etudes for “Project Chopin” (the largest project in honor of Chopin’s bicentenary), “Nuit De Mai” with Placido Domingo and performed the opening sequence for “Gran Turismo,” one of the most successful videogames of all time. In February 2010, Lang Lang joined Sony Music Entertainment as an exclusive recording artist; his first album with Sony features a live recording of his 2010 recital at Vienna’s legendary Musikverein. He recently released his new CD Liszt, My Piano Hero and the DVD Liszt, Now! to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the great composer. October 2012 brings the new release of his newest album featuring Chopin’s piano solo music.

 

Watch & Listen,

 

LANG LANG PLAYS TCHAIKOVSKY
October 6, 2012
COPLEY SYMPHONY HALL

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