PITTSBURGH – Next week’s BNY Mellon Grand Classics concerts will feature the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) debut of Briton Michael Francis, who shot to prominence as a conductor in January 2007 when he was asked with 12 hours’ notice to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra, where he was playing the double-bass.
The BNY Mellon Grand Classics concerts will begin at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27. Tickets, ranging from $20 to $93, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412.392.4900, or by visiting the PSO online at www.pittsburghsymphony.org.
Highly sought-after violinist Christian Tetzlaff also makes his PSO debut, performing Dvořák’s Concerto in A minor. He has been in demand as a soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, and has performed with the orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Toronto, among many others in North America,
The program features Mozart’s very popular Symphony No. 40, as well as works by three Czech composers – Dvořák, Bedrich Smetana and Leos Janáček. The PSO will perform “Sárka” – one of six movements from Smetana’s beloved Má vlast (My Country) – and Janáček’s symphonic rhapsody, which orchestrates the story of Taras Bulba, his sons and their journeys in the Ukraine.
A month after Francis was asked to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre on short notice, he was again asked – this time with only two hours’ notice – to replace composer/conductor John Adams in a performance of his own works with the LSO at the Philharmonie Luxembourg. Francis has since had acclaimed conducting debuts with the New York Philharmonic, Houston, Seattle, and Oregon Symphonies, as well as with Mariinsky Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and Münchner Symphoniker.
In a July 2012 review of a San Francisco Symphony concert led by Francis, Steven Kruger wrote in the Berkshire Review, “At times [Michael Francis] got us clapping along in such good spirits, we might as well be at the Albert Hall Proms. The young Englishman has now conducted several summer seasons in San Francisco and is a great hit with our audience, bringing just the right touch of knowing wit, uncomplicated musicality, good spirits and schoolboy snark to the proceedings. … His body makes a movement – and something audible happens. [He] moves with the music in an unbuttoned way, at high energy, as a good dancer would. ..it is abundantly clear that Francis ‘gets’ it – and us.”
The PSO would like to recognize and thank BNY Mellon for their 2012-2013 title sponsorship of BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the PSO. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the PSO.
Recently appointed Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor to Sweden’s Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Michael Francis follows in the footsteps of Herbert Blomstedt and Franz Welser-Möst each of whom were Chief Conductor with the orchestra in the early stages of their careers. His successful 2010 ‘step-in’ debut with the San Francisco Symphony has led to his conducting that orchestra’s New Year’s Concerts in 2011 and 2012 and to conduct nine classical concerts in each the 2011 and 2012 summer seasons. Most recent and upcoming debuts include those with the Boston, Washington, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Bournemouth, Toronto, Milwaukee, New World, Ottawa and Quebec Symphonies, as well as the Dresden, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Japan Philharmonics, while making return visits to Stuttgart, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Oregon, Seattle and BBC Wales.
An artist known for his musical integrity, technical assurance and intelligent, compelling interpretations, Christian Tetzlaff is internationally recognized as one of the most important violinists of his generation. Tetzlaff has performed and recorded a broad spectrum of the repertoire, ranging from Bach’s unaccompanied sonatas and partitas to 19th century masterworks by Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Brahms; and from 20th century concertos by Bartok, Berg and Shostakovich to world premieres of contemporary works. Also a dedicated chamber musician, he frequently collaborates with distinguished artists including Leif Ove Andsnes, Lars Vogt and Alexander Lonquich and is the founder of the Tetzlaff Quartet, which he formed in 1994.