New conductor hails a new set of majestic classical standbys
It is an honor to introduce the Honolulu Symphony's 2007-08 schedule -- a new concert season replete with classical treasures.
As the symphony's new principal conductor, I have only just begun the journey of learning Hawaiian customs and the language. It is an immense pleasure to immerse myself in local culture, and the welcome I have received has been one of the warmest and most heartfelt of my career. You could say that the spirit of aloha has already won my heart.
As music lovers know, this orchestra is at its finest with the thrilling melodies of great composers such as Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Our upcoming season features the works of music's gifted masters in a sumptuous feast of classical music's most gratifying works.
Opening night arrives in August with violinist Sarah Chang performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. This tour de force ranks among the most demanding and popular in the repertoire -- for good reason. Expect a whirlwind of poetic melodies that allow both the orchestra and soloist to excel. Also on the program are two symphonic treats: Wagner's Prelude to his only comedy, the Opera "Die Meistersinger," and Tchaikovsky's romantic Fifth Symphony.
I will return in November, when we open the concert with Schumann's splendid "Overture, Scherzo and Finale." Pianist Cecile Licad, who grew up in Manila, joins us for Chopin's delightful yet multifaceted Second Piano Concerto. We close with an undeniable pleasure: Beethoven's First Symphony.
In December, Italian pianist Benedetto Lupo will perform Beethoven's tantalizing Fourth Piano Concerto. Recognized worldwide as a remarkably talented artist, Lupo makes his Honolulu Symphony debut with this compelling masterwork, which always thrills the senses. But, there's more: Bedrich Smetana's "Vlatava" ("The Moldau") brings the glorious outdoors into the concert hall. And our finale is a resounding favorite: Brahms' riveting Fourth Symphony.
March 2008 will bring two stellar programs. Highlights include Tchaikovsky's beautiful "Variations on a Rococo Theme," with cellist Zuill Bailey, and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in Ravel's jazz-inspired Piano Concerto in G major.
My concluding concert of the season will come in April 2008, when baritone Thomas Hampson joins us for an exceptional program, "Heroes and Lovers." Visit Hampson's Web site, www.hamsong.com, to learn more about this fascinating artist, teacher, golfer, avid collector of books and advocate of new technologies.
So many of us are drawn to Hawaii by its beauty; I have been drawn by its richly talented orchestra and stellar musical reputation. It is my sincere wish that many of you will share the majesty of the orchestra with me next season!
The symphony performs at 8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the Blaisdell Concert Hall with violin soloist Jennifer Koh. Call 792-2000.