Long Beach Symphony, under the direction of Maestro Eckart Preu, will open its 85th Anniversary season on September 28 at 8:00 PM in the Terrace Theater of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center (300 E. Ocean Blvd). To celebrate this milestone, patrons will be welcomed with bars and seating on the plaza pre-concert, and the option to hear Maestro Preu and guest soloist Paul Huang offer their insights to the concert beginning at 7:00 PM in the Terrace Theater hall.
The concert opens with music by Hungarian composer Ligeti (b. 1923), whose music has been heard in soundtracks to some of Stanley Kubrick’s most famous movies, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut. In contrast to those, his Romanian Concerto incorporates folk melodies from his childhood. Despite those innocent roots, it was still considered too modernist for communist Hungary when it was composed in 1951 and was not performed publicly until 1971 and not recorded until 2001. The work features interesting solos from all parts of the orchestra.
Like Ligeti, Bohemian composer Antonin Dvořák was also adept at weaving folk songs into his music, as can be heard in his Violin Concerto, one of Dvořák’s most popular works. According to one story, Dvořák’s inspiration for this concerto came from a visit to Prague’s railway station where he observed troops arriving for a concert to support the early struggle for a Czech homeland. The Violin Concerto in A minor is an expression of his patriotism and desire to create music capable of “stirring the world.”
Guest violinist Paul Huang, known for his distinctive sound and effortless virtuosity, will interpret the work, which is considered an essential part of the international violin repertoire. Recipient of the prestigious 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2017 Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists, and countless other prizes, the Taiwan-born violinist earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Juilliard School of Music. He plays on the 1742 ex-Wieniawski Guarneri del Gesù on loan through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
Following intermission, the orchestra will present Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. Because the work did not receive immediate critical acclaim as he had hoped, the composer distanced himself from it for many years. After his death in 1893, however, the work grew in popularity, and the 45-minute masterpiece is now praised for the composer’s skill as an orchestrator and his evocation of the idea of fate throughout.
Concert sponsored by Craig R. Dougherty and Jayne Lastusky, Dougherty Company Insurance Brokers, and Lyn and John Pohlmann.
Founded in 1934, the Long Beach Symphony’s concerts offer music lovers the opportunity to hear live orchestral music without having to drive to LA or Orange County – a real gift to the community given the traffic challenges of today. Key to its long-term success is the Symphony’s proximity to the Hollywood studios making it ideal for attracting a high caliber of talent both in the orchestra and as guest soloists. In the 1950s several of its musicians were hired to help start Long Beach Unified School District’s music education programs, and these programs – more than 150 of them each year – continue today.
Over the decades, Long Beach Symphony has reached many artistic and cultural milestones, including being the first regional orchestra to appoint a female Music Director in 1989. Most recently, it was awarded the Long Beach Heritage Preservation Award, the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce Award for Outstanding Nonprofit Organization, and it was honored in 2017 by the NAACP for promoting civil rights and social justice through the arts. Currently offering 16 concerts and over 150 free music programs benefitting 60,000 people, the Symphony is a true Long Beach success story.
“My intention for each concert of the upcoming season,” explains Maestro Preu, now in his 3rd year with the Symphony, “is to achieve three things: to touch the soul, to open one’s mind, and to entertain. In each program the audience will find a well-known work – music where many listeners might be able to anticipate the next phrase – combined with something more adventurous – a piece that will deliver a listening experience of discovery.”
Most notable in the 2019–2020 Classical Season is the Violins of Hope Concert on April 25, 2020, in which Symphony musicians will play stringed instruments that were played by Jewish musicians in concentration camps during the Holocaust. The concert ends with the Verdi Requiem, which was performed by the Jewish orchestra and chorus in silent protest during the Nazi’s SS visit at the Theresienstadt camp in 1944. The project includes related lectures, a film, panel discussion, two chamber music concerts and a week of programs in local schools and colleges, all intended to create a region-wide dialogue about music, art, social justice and free expression.
On November 16, the Symphony takes a musical tour of France, then on February 8, 2020, the orchestra celebrates the rich heritage of folk melodies from the United States and Mexico reborn by 20th Century composers, among them Aaron Copland. In March, guest violinist Stefan Jackiw will solo on Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major in honor of the composer’s 250th birthday. We wrap the Classical season with an exploration of love and war by Romantic composers on May 30, with works by Liszt, Clara Schumann and Brahms.
The POPS! season kicks off October 26, with a performance by cross-over artist Lucia Micarelli, known for her collaborations with Josh Groban, Chris Botti, and Jethro Tull. On December 21, we’ll celebrate the holiday season with The Copa Boys, then on February 22 a celebration of Mardi Grasinfused with New Orleans jazz. A tribute to the great Broadway composers, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber follows on March 21 with tunes from Gypsy, West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Cats, and Phantom of the Opera! The POPS! season ends with energy on May 9: A Night of Symphonic Rock featuring an all-star band playing classic rock favorites.
The POPS! Series is presented by Farmers & Merchants Bank.
“Overall, I hope that our concerts this season will bring exciting, joyous, and meaningful experiences to our audiences,” said Maestro Preu. “If you don’t whistle a tune on your way home, I certainly hope that people’s hearts will be filled with the warm feeling only music can provide.”
Single tickets to the Symphony’s Classical and POPS! concerts start at $30 (student tickets $10) and are available for purchase beginning Sept. 10. Season subscriptions start at $129 for all 6 concerts of the Classical Series and $93 for all 5 POPS! concerts. Subscriber benefits include up to 30% off of single ticket prices, priority seating, 20% off dining discount card, free ticket exchanges and more. For more information, or to purchase tickets and subscriptions, please visit www.LongBeachSymphony.org or call 562-436-3203.
This article was released by the Long Beach Symphony.