Atlanta Symphony at KSU
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Peter Oundjian, conductor
Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
Friday, March 22, 2019, 8 p.m.
Morgan Concert Hall
Led by conductor Peter Oundjian, the Atlanta Symphony serves up a feast of orchestral indulgence. First, the “utterly astounding” (The Piano Files) Benjamin Grosvenor performs Johannes Brahms’s barnstorming Piano Concerto No. 1. The performance concludes with Strauss’ mind-blowing Also sprach Zarathustra. Used as the opening theme in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Strauss’ tone poem was written “to convey in music an idea of the evolution of the human race from its origin...,” and is perfectly at home in this epic cinematic context.
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Piano Concerto No. 1
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Also sprach Zarathustra
Peter Oundjian, conductor
A dynamic presence in the conducting world, Toronto-born conductor Peter Oundjian is renowned for his probing musicality, collaborative spirit, and engaging personality. Oundjian's appointment as Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in 2004 reinvigorated the Orchestra with numerous recordings, tours, and acclaimed innovative programming as well as extensive audience growth, thereby significantly strengthening the ensemble’s presence in the world. In August 2014, he led the TSO on a tour of Europe, which included a sold-out performance at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and the first performance of a North American orchestra at Reykjavik's Harpa Hall.
Oundjian was appointed Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) in 2012. Under his baton, the orchestra has enjoyed several successful tours including one to China, and has continued its relationship with Chandos Records. This season, Oundjian and the RSNO opened the Edinburgh Festival with the innovative Harmonium Project to great critical and audience acclaim.
Few conductors bring such musicianship and engagement to the world's great podiums – from Berlin, Amsterdam, and Tel Aviv, to New York, Chicago, and Sydney. He has also appeared at some of the great annual gatherings of music and music-lovers: from the BBC Proms and the Prague Spring Festival, to the Edinburgh Festival and The Philadelphia Orchestra's Mozart Festival, where he was Artistic Director from 2003 to 2005.
Oundjian was Principal Guest Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 2006 to 2010 and Artistic Director of the Caramoor International Music Festival in New York between 1997 and 2007. Since 1981, he has been a visiting professor at the Yale School of Music, and was awarded the university's Sanford Medal for distinguished service to music in 2013.
Benjamin Grosvenor, piano
British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is internationally recognized for his electrifying performances and insightful interpretations. His virtuosic command over the most strenuous technical complexities underpins the remarkable depth and understanding of his musicianship. Benjamin is renowned for his distinctive sound, described as ‘poetic and gently ironic, brilliant yet clear-minded, intelligent but not without humour, all translated through a beautifully clear and singing touch’ (The Independent), and making him one of the most sought-after young pianists in the world.
Benjamin first came to prominence as the outstanding winner of the Keyboard Final of the 2004 BBC Young Musician Competition at the age of eleven, and he was invited to perform with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the First Night of the 2011 BBC Proms at just nineteen. Since then, he has become an internationally regarded pianist and was announced in 2016 as the inaugural recipient of The Ronnie and Lawrence Ackman Classical Piano Prize with the New York Philharmonic. As part of this he returns to New York in April 2018, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen as well as chamber music with members of the orchestra at the Tisch Center for the Arts at 92nd Street Y.
Recent and future highlights include engagements with the Boston Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gürzenich-Orchestra Cologne, Cleveland, Gulbenkian and Hallé Orchestras, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Filarmonica della Scala, the London, Melbourne, San Francisco, Singapore, Tokyo, and Washington National Symphony Orchestras, and an appearance at the 2015 Last Night of the Proms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop. Among his major recital dates are Vienna Konzerthaus, Théâtre des Champs Elysées Paris, Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall New York, Konzerthaus Berlin, Barbican Centre London, Musashino Civic Cultural Hall Tokyo, the Lucerne and Gilmore Festivals, La Roque d’Antheron, the International Piano Series at the Southbank Centre as well as his first tour of South America.
Benjamin has worked with numerous esteemed conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jiří Bělohlávek, Andrey Boreyko, Semyon Bychkov, Riccardo Chailly, Charles Dutoit, Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner, Alan Gilbert, Vladimir Jurowski, Andrew Litton, Andrew Manze, Ludovic Morlot, Kent Nagano, Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Roger Norrington, François-Xavier Roth, Alexander Shelley, Thomas Søndergård, Nathalie Stutzmann, Gabor Takacs-Nagy and with Michael Tilson Thomas.
Benjamin enjoys incorporating chamber music collaborations into his schedule, including performances with the Escher, Elias and Endellion String Quartets, chamber ensembles of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, the New York and Naples Philharmonic Orchestras, and at venues such as Paris’ Musée du Louvre and London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Since the 2015-16 season Benjamin has been invited to participate in the prestigious “Junge Wilde” series by Konzerthaus Dortmund, where over the course of three years he will perform on a number of occasions, including in June 2018 with violinist Hyeyoon Park.
In 2011 Benjamin signed to Decca Classics, becoming the youngest British musician ever to sign to the label, and the first British pianist to sign to the label in almost 60 years. Benjamin’s fourth CD on the label, Homages (2016), explores a number of works in which great composers pay tribute to their predecessors, including Busoni’s transcription of Bach’s great solo violin Chaconne, Franck’s Choral, Prelude and Fugue and Liszt’s tribute to Italian folk song, Venezia e Napoli. Awarded a Diapason d’Or, the disc was described by BBC Music Magazine as “showing off his fluid virtuosity, musical sensitivity and fearless approach” and named Instrumental Choice of the month.
During his sensational career to date, Benjamin has received Gramophone’s Young Artist of the Year and Instrumental Awards, a Classic Brits Critics’ Award, UK Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent and a Diapason d’Or Jeune Talent Award. He has been featured in two BBC television documentaries, BBC Breakfast and The Andrew Marr Show, as well as in CNN’s Human to Hero series. The youngest of five brothers, Benjamin began playing the piano aged 6. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Christopher Elton and Daniel-Ben Pienaar, where he graduated in 2012 with the ‘Queen’s Commendation for Excellence’ and in 2016 was awarded a Fellowship. Benjamin has been supported since 2013 by EFG International, the widely respected global private banking group.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, currently in its 72nd season, consistently affirms its position as one of America’s leading Orchestras by performing great music, presenting great artists, educating, and engaging.
The Orchestra is known for the excellence of its live performances, presentations, renowned choruses, and its impressive list of GRAMMY® Award-winning recordings. The leading cultural organization in the Southeast, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra serves as the cornerstone for artistic development and music education in the region. Since September 2001, the Orchestra and audiences together explore a creative programming mix, recordings, and visual enhancements, such as the Theater of a Concert, the Orchestra’s continuing exploration of different formats, settings, and enhancements for the musical performance experience. Another example is the Atlanta School of Composers, which reflects Mr. Spano, and the Orchestra’s commitment to nurturing and championing music through multi-year partnerships defining a new generation of American composers. Since the beginning of his tenure (to date), Mr. Spano and the Orchestra have performed over 100 concerts containing contemporary works (composed since 1950), including 15 ASO-commissioned world premieres.
During its 32-year history with Telarc, the Orchestra and Chorus has recorded more than 100 albums and its recordings have won 27 GRAMMY® Awards in categories including Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Choral Performance, and Best Opera Performance.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performs more than 200 concerts each year for a combined audience of more than a half million in a full schedule of performances which also features educational and community concerts. A recognized leader and supporter of contemporary American music, the Orchestra recently received the 2007 award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. In addition, Music Director Robert Spano was named Musical America 2008 Conductor of the Year. With the opening of the 12,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park (vzwamp.com) in May 2008, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra became the first U.S. orchestra to annually perform and present in its concert hall, and in two amphitheaters. In Summer 2008, the Orchestra celebrated 35 years at legendary Chastain Park Amphitheater, the award-winning 6,500 seat venue in Atlanta, during the Orchestra’s annual Delta Classic Chastain concert series.