Edo De Waart, Sa Chen, Heidi Stober Play With Milwaukee Symphony

Ruzan Haruriunyan's picture

Music Director Designate Edo de Waart will conduct his second weekend of concerts with the MSO November 7-8, 2009, in Uihlein Hall at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. The program will include Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 with soprano Heidi Stober as soloist and Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 with piano soloist Sa Chen.

Composed around 1800, Beethoven's Concerto No. 3 in C minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 37, was first performed in Vienna with the conductor as soloist. Beethoven's C minor Concerto is a transitional work that shows both the influence of Mozart and the emergence of his own strong musical character. In contrast to his classically oriented First Symphony, played on that same concert, the piano concerto is a more personal and forward looking utterance.

Crystal prize winner of the late 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Sa Chen, described as "a brilliant pianist" by world-renowned pianist Emmanuel Ax, has been delighting audiences in Europe, China, Japan, and the United States. Her first major performance was in 1996 when, at the age of 16, she was seen live on BBC Television, competing in the final of the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition, with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony.

Sa Chen was born in Chongqing, China. She began her musical studies at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and then at the Shenzhen School of Arts. Following her success in Leeds in 1996, she was subsequently offered a scholarship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and obtained a master's degree in performance. As a soloist, Sa Chen has performed with orchestras throughout Europe China, Japan, and the United States. These include Camerata Salzburg, Warsaw Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Strasbourg Philharmonic, China Philharmonic, China National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Bern Symphony Orchestra.

Mahler's Symphony No. 4 has warmth, sunniness, and brevity that set it apart from his other symphonic works. Composed between 1898 and 1901, it is a product of what biographer de La Grange characterizes as "a period of ill-health and psychological strain." Professionally, however, he was experiencing great success and garnering critical acclaim for his work with the Vienna Opera. The fourth symphony is built around a single song, "Das himmlische Leben." It is prefigured in various ways in the first three movements and sung complete by the solo soprano in the fourth movement.

Soprano Heidi Stober, a Waukesha native, is gaining recognition not only for her beautiful voice but also for her exciting presence on the operatic stage. She has received praise for her performances with companies including The Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera. During the 2007/08 season, she performed with the New York City Opera, Lawrence University, and traveled to Hong Kong to sing selections from Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Stober returned to New York in the spring of 2008 to sing performances of Soprano III in Purcell's King Arthur at New York City Opera.

Stober recently completed her residency in the Houston Grand Opera Studio, which she joined after winning first place in the Houston Grand Opera 2004 Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers. She was also the recipient of the Stephen Shrestinian Award for Excellence for her performances in Boston Lyric Opera's Die Fledermaus. Heidi Stober is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and Lawrence University.

Edo de Waart will become the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra's 6th music director at the beginning of the 2009/10 season. De Waart is chief conductor and artistic director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor laureate of the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest Holland, and chief conductor and artistic advisor of the Santa Fe Opera. In addition, de Waart was named an artistic partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Born in Holland, he studied oboe, piano, and conducting at the Music Lyceum in Amsterdam. Upon graduation, he won the position of associate principal oboe of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Two years later, at the age of 23, he won the Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducting Competition in New York which resulted in his appointment for the 1965/66 season as assistant conductor to Leonard Bernstein at the New York Philharmonic.

On his return to Holland, he was appointed assistant conductor to Bernard Haitink at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 1967 the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra appointed him permanent guest conductor and six years later chief conductor and artistic director. Since then, de Waart has also been the artistic director of the Netherlands Radio and Television Music Centre, music director of the San Francisco Symphony and Minnesota orchestras, leader of the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, chief conductor and artist director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and chief conductor of De Nederlandse Opera. -- www.mso.org

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