FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aziz Shokhakimov & Julie Albers Op

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aziz Shokhakimov & Julie Albers Open WSO Series Masterworks B with Brahms & Elgar Winnipeg, MB – October 2, 2014 – The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) opens its Masterworks B Series on October 10 & 11 with two sparkling young guests: conductor Aziz Shokhakimov and cellist Julie Albers. The orchestra was so impressed with Shokhakimov’s WSO debut last year that they immediately booked him for a return engagement. Albers, whose lyrical and polished cello tone will shine in the Elgar Cello Concerto, joins the orchestra for her WSO debut. The concert opens with the late Winnipeg virtuoso Sophie-­‐Carmen Eckhardt-­‐Grammaté's Cappriccio -­‐ Concertante, which shows off the colours of the orchestra with opposing instrumental groups. Aziz will then take the audience through Elgar's Cello Concerto and close with Brahms' 4th Symphony. A dark and contemplative work, Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor is one of two great masterworks for the instrument. It shows off the cello’s deep and resonant tone with long, sweeping lyrical passages. Fans of the Game of Thrones TV series will recognize this beautiful sound from the infamous Red Wedding theme, which echoes a number of passages from the Elgar Concerto. The concert closes with Austrian composer Johannes Brahms' grand 4th Symphony, a cornerstone of the orchestral tradition. Written at the end of his life, Brahms was brought to tears by the audience response to its premiere in 1897. Mortally ill with liver cancer, Brahms realized it would likely be his swan song. Yet the music is just as fresh and powerful today as it was over 100 years ago. Masterworks B Aziz Conducts Brahms Friday, October 10 -­‐ 8:00 PM Saturday, October 11 -­‐ 8:00 PM Centennial Concert Hall Aziz Shokhakimov, conductor Julie Albers, cello Pre-­‐concert chat on the Piano Nobile of the Centennial Concert Hall begins 45 minutes prior to evening concert. Tickets start at $32.00 and are available through the WSO Box Office: 204.949.3999 or or Ticketmaster: 1.855.985.ARTS and The WSO is integral to Winnipeg's rich cultural life, delighting more than 100,000 audience members each year with innovative programming and musical excellence. The WSO presents educational programs for more than 25,000 students annually and tours to communities across Manitoba. -­‐30-­‐ MEDIA CALL: Friday, October 10 10:30 – 11:00 am Centennial Concert Hall; Media to arrive at back stage entrance Lily Street MEDIA: For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact: Sarah Panas, Marketing & Communications Coordinator p. (204) 949-­‐3970 f. (204) 956-­‐4271 e: [email protected] SUPPORT MATERIALS -­‐ Biographies Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has the good fortune to be located in a culturally vibrant city with a history of supporting cultural and community activities with enthusiasm and discernment. The WSO has been a vital component of the community since its incorporation on February 13, 1947. The debut concert was held on December 16, 1948 in the Civic Auditorium to an audience of 3,000 with Walter Kaufmann conducting. Subscription prices for the first season of five concerts ranged from $3 to $8 with single tickets starting at $0.75. Walter Kaufmann was the orchestra’s first music director and following him came Victor Feldbrill, George Cleve, Piero Gamba, Kazuhiro Koizumi, Bramwell Tovey, Andrey Boreyko, and since 2005, Alexander Mickelthwate. Under their guidance, the orchestra has both earned a place among the ranks of major Canadian symphony orchestras and has come to be regarded as among Canada’s most innovative. Some of the eminent soloists who have appeared with the WSO include conductors Pierre Monteux, John Barbirolli and Arthur Fiedler; violinists David Oistrakh and Itzhak Perlman; pianists Glenn Gould, Byron Janis, Gary Graffman, Leon Fleisher; singers Marilyn Horne and Maureen Forrester; cellists Zara Nelsova and Jacqueline du Pré and many others. The WSO has toured throughout Canada, and made a first appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1979. The orchestra has worked very closely with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation since 1954 when the CBC began broadcasting portions of WSO concerts. The orchestra has released numerous recordings on the CBC label and has given thousands of national radio broadcasts since its inception. In addition to its own extensive season of concerts and educational activities, the WSO functions as the official orchestra of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Manitoba Opera Association. The WSO has developed an international reputation for its annual New Music Festival. Founded in January 1992 by Music Director Bramwell Tovey and the WSO’s first composer-­‐in-­‐residence, Glenn Buhr, the New Music Festival has provided an environment rich in exploration and discovery of new works by composers from Canada and around the world. It was in the New Music Festival that programming proposed for the Spring for Music Festival was first programmed and performed for the loyal New Music Festival audiences in Winnipeg. This appearance at Carnegie Hall on May 8, 2014 was a success for the WSO artistically, financially and on a community level. Hundreds of Manitobans travelled to New York to attend the concert and the celebratory after party at The Russian Tea Room that was attended by 720 people. Aziz Shokhakimov The remarkable young conductor Aziz Shokhakimov burst on the scene at the age of just 21 by astounding audiences in Bamberg, where he was awarded second prize at the Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition under the auspices of the Bamberger Symphoniker. In 2006, Aziz Shokhakimov assumed the position of principal conductor at the National Symphony Orchestra of Uzbekistan, a position which he continues to hold. This season, Shokhakimov will conduct debut performances of the Strasbourg Philharmonie, Frankfurt Radio Symphony and London Philharmonic orchestras and enjoy engagements with La Verdi Milan, Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, Sinfonia Varsovia and the Winnipeg Symphony. Shokhakimov studied conducting at the Uzbek State Conservatory in Tashkent under the tutelage of Professor V. Neymer. In 2005 he was awarded the State ‘Nikhol’ Prize for talented young musicians. After conducting the National Symphony Orchestra of Uzbekistan for the first time, he was named Assistant Conductor in 2001 and has since led the orchestra in numerous concerts. In 2002 he made his operatic debut at Uzbekistan’s main State Academic Theatre in performances of Bizet’s Carmen. Since 2003 Aziz Shokhakimov has worked regularly with the Russian Youth Symphony Orchestra, based in Togliatti, and has led the orchestra on tours throughout Russia, as well as in France and the Ukraine. Julie Albers American cellist Julie Albers is recognized for her superlative artistry, her charismatic and radiant performing style, and her intense musicianship. She was born into a musical family and began violin studies at the age of two with her mother, switching to cello at four. She moved to Cleveland while in high school to pursue studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Julie was awarded the Grand Prize at the XIII International Competition for Young Musicians in Douai, France, and as a result toured France as soloist with Orchestre Symphonique de Douai. Julie Albers made her major orchestral debut with the Cleveland Orchestra in 1998, and thereafter has performed in recital and with orchestras throughout North America, Europe, Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand. She is currently is Assistant Professor and holds the Mary Jean and Charles Yates Cello Chair at the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Georgia. Julie Albers performs on a N.F. Vuillaume cello made in 1872 and makes her home in Atlanta with her husband, Bourbon, and their dog, Dozer. SUPPORT MATERIALS – Program Notes by James Manishen Capriccio -­‐ Concertante S.C. Eckhardt-­‐Gramatté b. Moscow, Russia / January 6, 1899 d. Stuttgart, Germany / December 2, 1974 Composed: 1941 Last WSO performance: 2008; Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor Moving to Winnipeg in 1953 with her husband Dr. Ferdinand Eckhardt, Sophie-­‐Carmen Eckhardt-­‐ Gramatté was a virtuoso on both the piano and violin while also a composer of a wide variety of works. Her Capriccio – Concertante was written in Vienna in 1941, the title imparting a light-­‐hearted piece in three-­‐ part form featuring opposing groups of instruments. Perhaps the music’s relentless rhythm in the first section reflects the wartime atmosphere of Europe, the omnipresent dance melody encircling itself reiterating the same note with unexpected haltings, syncopations and accents. The middle section has a Siciliano dotted rhythm for a more cheerful foil, though still vitally rhythmic. The third section is a restatement of the opening theme leading to a lively finish. Cello Concerto in E minor Edward Elgar b. Broadheath, nr Worcester, England / June 2, 1857 d. Worcester / February 23, 1934 Composed: 1918-­‐1919 First performance: October 27, 1919 (London) conducted by the composer with Felix Salmond as soloist. Last WSO performance: 2014; Colin Carr, cello; Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor The Great War devastated Elgar, not only numbing in the residual effects of all its tragic events but also that so many of his friends of German ancestry were being badly treated in England, with others killed or wounded in action. As well, Elgar’s Edwardian world, of which he so identified, was coming to a close after the War and he felt his seemingly anachronistic music would be pushed aside in the new world of harmonic daring. Most of all, his beloved wife Alice – his chief inspiration, critic and aide – was falling ill and Elgar knew that she hadn’t much time. With Alice’s passing in 1920, Elgar stopped composing completely and retreated into a private world of disillusionment and unhappiness. All these factors presaged the Cello Concerto, written just before Alice’s death and Elgar’s last major work. It proved to be a final statement for him, an introspective, meditative and elegiac valedictory story very different from the vigor Elgar so regularly showed in his earlier music. One feels here that Elgar is describing a musical and personal era that were dying with him. Much of the solo cello role is given to solitary reflections, as in the recitative-­‐like opening of the work. The poignant opening movement is in three-­‐part form (ABA) and leads directly to the second movement, taking several tries before the new movement takes flight in the concerto’s most openly virtuosic moments. The Adagio that follows begins with motionless stillness and seems a direct window to Elgar’s world-­‐ weary soul. The finale starts with a recitative and then moves into a rondo-­‐form narrative, trying hard to be a bit more optimistic but then retreating back to a memorable soliloquy as in the third movement. Moments of earlier material return before a final recall of the fast rondo music to close. Symphony No. 4 Johannes Brahms b. Hamburg / May 7, 1833 d. Vienna / April 3, 1897 Composed: 1884-­‐1885 First performance: October 25, 1885 (Meiningen) conducted by the composer. Last WSO performance: 2009; Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor Perhaps the best way to approach a performance of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony is to recall the composer’s farewell to his beloved Vienna, where conductor Hans Richter had scheduled it for the Vienna Philharmonic’s concert of March 7, 1897. Mortally ill from liver cancer, Brahms witnessed an overwhelming response from the audience after each movement. In the words of his biographer Florence May: “Tears ran down his cheeks as he stood there... another outburst of applause and yet another.” As a valedictory statement to a life filled with searching and discovery, Brahms’ Fourth is in the highest tier and, extending from Schubert and Beethoven, the culmination of symphonic style. The outer movements are of such grand proportion and development that they could almost be considered symphonies in themselves. The key of E minor is significant, a tonality signifying tragedy and melancholy, perhaps Brahms’ resignation of his own mortality much as Mahler explored in his Sixth Symphony later on. A tiny two-­‐note motive pervades the opening movement of sad melancholy and wondrous compositional skill. Richard Strauss described the second movement as “a funeral procession moving across moonlit heights.” The bright scherzo third movement brings respite with its dance-­‐like joy. The finale is a passacaglia – a gathering variation movement on a repeating theme hearkening back to the Baroque in form and never used in a symphony before it. MEDIA: For additional support materials including images, please contact: Sarah Panas, Marketing & Communications Coordinator p. (204) 949-­‐3970 f. (204) 956-­‐4271 e: [email protected]