Led by IPO Music Director Stilian Kirov, the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) raises the curtain on its 44th season with Scheherazade on Saturday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the beautiful 1,100-seat Ozinga Chapel at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights.
The exhilarating concert features world-renowned pianist Alexander Toradze performing Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, the world premiere of Reverberations by IPO Composer-in-Residence Martha Horst, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. The evening will be sponsored by the very lively Lois & Stanley Birer as a UNMemorial Memorial Concert. Tickets range from $10 to $67 and are available at ipomusic.org.
“After a long career punctuated by concerts with almost every major orchestra in the United States, IPO is very happy to see Georgian pianist Alexander Toradze play Prokofiev on our stage.” says IPO Executive Director Christina Salerno, who has been named 2022 Executive Director of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras
“We are all very happy to welcome on our stage one of the most distinguished pianists in the world and to celebrate the end of our season with this beautiful program.” adds IPO music director Stilian Kirov. “We are also very excited to finally be able to present Martha Horst’s latest piece as Composer-in-Residence. It will be a special night for the entire IPO family.”
Dr. Martha Horst won the 2019 IPO Classical Evolve competition. She began her tenure as IPO Composer-in-Residence in the 2019-20 season. Due to the postponement of the pandemic, the finale of his three pieces composed for IPO, Reverberations, will have its long-awaited world premiere at the Scheherazade concert.
IPO Classical Evolve is part of Maestro Kirov’s vision to encourage the development of new musical voices. During the annual composition competition, finalists are chosen to have their original score prepared in the workshop and performed live in front of the IPO audience. The award-winning composer-in-residence then composes three works for the orchestra in the coming season. More information can be found at ipomusic.org/classical-evolve-composer-contest.
The last piece on the program is Scheherazade, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s epic orchestral adventure. The work is based on the collection of Middle Eastern folk tales One Thousand and One Nights, or – as it is more commonly known in English – Arabian Nights. The evocative symphonic journey unfolds in four movements with dazzling titles, I. The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship, II. Prince Kalendar, III. The young prince and the young princess, and IV. Festival in Baghdad; the sea; the ship crumbles on a rock surmounted by a bronze warrior.
The concert will be celebrated as the Lois & Stanley Birer UNMemorial Concert. Marking a first in the history of the IPO, and perhaps in the history of any orchestra, the Birers will sponsor the UNMemorial concert as a celebration of life to be enjoyed with their friends and the orchestra that they love – while they are still alive. Both Lois and Stanley Birer are longtime supporters of the IPO and each hold the title of Life Director of the IPO.
“When you go to a funeral and see all the flowers, you wonder how much the deceased would have liked to see and smell the flowers.” Says Stanley Birer, “Then a great inspiration came to us. Why not donate a performance of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra before we die and be able to enjoy the pleasure of listening to our orchestra? Yes, we named the IPO in our wills, but we’re sure we’ll enjoy this gig more than the next.”
About the artists
Universally recognized as a masterful virtuoso of the great Romantic tradition, Alexander Toradze enriched Russia’s great piano heritage with his own unorthodox interpretive designs, deeply poetic lyricism and intense emotional excitement.
Toradze’s recording of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 was named by International Piano Quarterly as “historically the best recorded”. Other very successful recordings include Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, with the Kirov Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev as well as recital albums of works by Mussorgsky, Stravinsky, Ravel and Prokofiev for the Angel/EMI label. . The recording of Shostakovich’s two piano concertos with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Paavo Järvi was considered by the Frankfurter Allgemeine a historic achievement in the artist’s career.
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Alexander Toradze graduated from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow and quickly became a teacher there. In 1983 he moved permanently to the United States and in 1991 he was appointed as a Martin Endowed Professor of Piano at Indiana University in South Bend, where he created a teaching environment unparalleled in his unique concept. . The members of the multinational Toradze Piano Studio have become a world-touring ensemble that has produced projects detailing the piano and chamber works of Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Dvorak, Stravinsky and Shostakovich in Europe (UK, Italy, Germany, Portugal , France) and the United States. In 2012, the Toradze Piano Studio produced a groundbreaking Radio program by Joseph Horowitz in collaboration with the WFMT network dedicated to Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff: “Russian Accents”.
Martha Horst is a composer who has dedicated herself to performing, creating and teaching classical music. Her music has been performed by performers and groups such as Fromm Players, CUBE, Earplay, Alea III, Empyrean Ensemble, Susan Narucki, Left Coast Ensemble, Dal Niente, The Women’s Philharmonic, Composers, Inc., members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra . , Eric Warrant and Amy Briggs. Horst has won numerous awards, including the Copland Prize, the Alea III International Composition Competition for her work Threads, and the Rebecca Clarke International Composition Competition for her work Cloister Songs, based on 18th-century utopian poetry. She has been a fellow at MacDowell Colony, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Wellesley Conference, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and Dartington International School in the UK. Her work Piano Sonata No. 1, recorded by acclaimed pianist Lara Downes, has been released nationally by Crossover Media.
Dr. Horst currently teaches composition and theory at Illinois State University and has also taught at the University of California, Davis, East Carolina University, and Illinois State University. from San Francisco.
For more information, visit ipomusic.org or call 708.481.7774.