PITTSBURGH—The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra returns to West Virginia University for the final Canady Symphony Series Concert of the 2013-2014 season on March 24, bringing with them a very special, but familiar, guest to the stage of the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theater.
WVU alumna, Carnegie Mellon University professor and a Pittsburgh Composer of the Year Nancy Galbraith’s Euphonic Blues opens the program. Euphonic Blues, which premiered in 2012 at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Carnegie Mellon School of Music, is a lush melodic work that reflects a bluesy and nostalgic sound. Pianist Stephen Hough, the first classical musician to win a McArthur Foundation Fellowship, returns to WVU as well, performing Mendelssohn’s nuanced Piano Concerto No. 1. Guest conductor Donald Runnicles closes the diverse program with excerpts from Wagner’s four-epic opera cycle, “Der Ring des Nibelungen.”
The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theater at WVU Evansdale Campus in Morgantown, W.Va. Tickets are $27 and $45 and can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900, or by visiting pittsburghsymphony.org/wvu. Student tickets are $13 per concert. Student tickets can be purchased at pittsburghsymphony.org/wvustudent. Tickets also may be purchased the evening of the performance, beginning at 5:30 p.m., in the Clay Concert Theater lobby.
A pre-concert talk with Galbraith and Jim Cunningham, artistic director of WQED-FM and host of the station’s “Morning Show,” will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The 2013-2014 title sponsors of the Canady Symphony Series at WVU are William and Loulie Canady in memory of Valerie.
Composer and Pittsburgh native Nancy Galbraith is professor of composition at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music. She began piano studies at age four, and later earned degrees in composition from Ohio University (B.M.) and West Virginia University (M.M.). Her studies in composition, piano and organ continued at Carnegie Mellon University. In a career that spans over three decades, her music has earned praise for its rich harmonic texture, rhythmic vitality, emotional and spiritual depth, and wide range of expression. Galbraithʼs symphonic works have enjoyed regular performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, including premieres led by Gennady Rozhdetsvensky and Mariss Jansons. Her “De profundis ad lucem” received its European premiere by the Limburg Symphony Orchestra in the Netherlands. Her Piano Concerto No. 1 was recorded by Keith Lockhart and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. Galbraith composes in a variety of styles, including pieces for wind ensembles, major choral works, chamber works (including electroacoustic pieces for Baroque flutist Stephen Schultz), ballet (“Whispers of Light” premiered this year at Bodiography Contemporary Ballet in Pittsburgh) and scared music. Galbraith is an accomplished pianist and organist and has written a number of works for those instruments.
Donald Runnicles is concurrently the general music director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB), chief conductor of BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBC SSO), and music director of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson, Wyo. Runnicles also is principal guest conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO). Beyond his annual BBC SSO, Atlanta and Grand Teton commitments, Runnicles is active in symphonic repertoire and finds time to guest conduct with some of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Runnicles was born in Edinburgh and was educated there and at Cambridge. Following a season with the London Opera Centre, he began his career in Mannheim, Germany, as repetiteur, and spent summers assisting in Bayreuth where he further honed and explored his Wagnerian disposition, and guesting throughout the German repertory theaters and orchestras. He made his North American debut in 1988 conducting Berg’s “Lulu” at the Metropolitan Opera, jumping in for an indisposed James Levine; in 1989 became general music director in Freiburg, Germany, for three years, and to which he returned in 2010 to help honor and celebrate the Freiburg orchestra’s centennial. In 1990, after two “Ring” cycles at San Francisco Opera, he was asked to be its music director, and began the appointment two years later. Over the last two decades he has conducted at leading international opera houses, orchestras and summer festivals. Among the awards bestowed upon him are the Order of the British Empire and honorary degrees from Edinburgh University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
In 2001, Stephen Hough was the first classical performing artist to win a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He was awarded the 2008 Northwestern University’s Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano, won the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award in 2010 and in January 2014 was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth in the New Year’s Honors List. He has appeared with most of the major European and American orchestras and plays recitals regularly in major halls and concert series around the world. He is also a regular guest at festivals such as Aldeburgh, Aspen, Blossom, Edinburgh, Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Verbier and the BBC Proms, where he has made more than 20 concerto appearances, including playing all of the works written by Tchaikovsky for piano and orchestra over summer 2009, a series he later repeated with the Chicago Symphony. He is artist-in-residence with the BBC Philharmonic and performs with orchestras including the Netherlands Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. A noted writer, Hough has regularly contributed articles for The Guardian, The Times, The Tablet, Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine and was invited by The Telegraph in London in 2008 to start a blog that has become one of the most popular and influential forums for cultural discussion. His book, “The Bible as Prayer,” was published by Continuum and Paulist Press in 2007. Hough resides in London and is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music and holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester.
Editors Please Note:
Monday, March 24, 7:30 p.m.
Lyell B. Clay Concert Theater at WVU Evansdale Campus
PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
CANADY SYMPHONY SERIES AT WVU
DONALD RUNNICLES, conductor
STEPHEN HOUGH, piano
Concerto No. 1 in G minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 25
I. Molto allegro con fuoco
III. Presto – Molto allegro e vivace
Orchestral Highlights from Der Ring des Nibelungen
Ride of the Valkyries
Siegfried’s Rhine Journey
Siegfried’s Funeral March
Brunhilde’s Immolation Scene