The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra wraps up its 2021/2022 season with an all-Beethoven program that will delight concert-goers of all ages.
Back to Beethoven – with Canadian violinist Kerson Leong as guest artist – will mark the end of this “season of resurgence” after two difficult years.
Performances will take place at the Kelowna Community Theater on Friday May 13, Penticton’s Cleland Theater on Saturday May 14 and the Vernon & District Performing Arts Center on Sunday May 15.
Tickets and live access (for Friday’s performance) are available at www.okanagansymphony.com/tickets.
“Canada is fortunate to have a roster of world-class violin soloists and Kerson Leong is quickly taking her place among them,” said OSO Music Director Rosemary Thomson. “His technical mastery is so complete that it makes it easy to scale this Everest from a concerto, allowing him to fully express the depth of musical expression he demands with a maturity that belies his young age. .”
Unable to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020, it is particularly appropriate to come “Back to Beethoven” at this time.
“Few composers capture the feeling of triumph after adversity like Ludwig van Beethoven. He had ruthless integrity in composing, writing and rewriting until he was satisfied,” Thomson said. “I love to hear that struggle in his music, because it is through that struggle that we gain the ability to truly appreciate triumph. As we collectively navigate through the universal challenges of the past two years, there is no better composer to turn to to continue to hope that Beethoven and so we close this season with this spirit of renewed energy.
Leong will shine in the iconic Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61. Now a revered and acclaimed work by orchestras around the world, Beethoven’s concerto received little more than polite acceptance from 19th-century audiences. Beethoven was a pioneer in composing concertos that celebrate soloist and orchestra as equals in musical conversation. The public at the time being more accustomed to concertos where the orchestra fades away, it took them some time to adapt to this new concept. Beethoven truly understood how the power of orchestral partnership could elevate the virtuosity of the soloist.
The OSO performs a masterpiece of the classical repertoire for the second half of the program: Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (Eroica) by Beethoven. It is a stunning turning point in the history of orchestral music and a moving declaration of artistic and spiritual independence. Beethoven originally dedicated the symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte. Following Napoleon’s declaration as Emperor of France, Beethoven, in a fit of rage, tore out the first page of the score, which bore the dedication. Eventually he rewrote the first page and titled the symphony Sinfonia eroica (Heroic Symphony).
Leong quickly established himself as one of the best musicians and instrumentalists of his generation. He never ceases to conquer colleagues and audiences, not only by his “supreme mastery” (Le Devoir) of his instrument or his incomparable sound, but also by his unique ability to combine an honest and intellectual approach with raw intensity and spontaneity, which gives a truly irresistible musicality.
Kerson first came to international attention when he won the Junior First Prize at the 2010 Menuhin Competition in Oslo. After subsequent debuts at major international festivals as well as four return performances with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, it has since distinguished itself as a powerful and individual musical voice. He has also performed at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, Wigmore Hall, Louvre Auditorium, and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing.
Coinciding with this series of concerts, the OSO is delighted to announce the official release of Canadian Soundscapes, its first commercial recording. CDs will be available for purchase at all three concerts, along with instructions for accessing them through iTunes and other digital platforms.
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