Episode 1: “Opening Night with Pacific Symphony”
Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. on KCET | Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal
Following in the tradition of past season openers, Pacific Symphony’s virtual “Opening Night” has been reimagined for the uncommon era in which we find ourselves. The program—a virtual piano extravaganza—will be offered in an innovative way, featuring five internationally renowned piano soloists in their home studios around the world: Olga Kern, Louis Lortie, André Watts, and piano duo Christina and Michelle Naughton. Works featured include 19th and 20th century masterworks by popular composers. Music Director Carl St.Clair hosts the evening.
Here’s a guide to the “Opening Night” program with information about the performing artists.
Carnival Overture – Antonín Dvořák
“Boogie” for Two Pianos – Paul Schoenfeld
Christina and Michelle Naughton
“There’s no such thing as sibling rivalry for the Naughton piano duo” as stated by the Washington Post. Christina and Michelle Naughton are especially passionate about American 20th century music and have immersed themselves in projects to showcase their interest. Notable is their 2019 album “American Postcard,” and they performed the world premiere of John Adams’ “Roll Over Beethoven” at NYC’s WQXR Greenspace. Tonight they perform “Boogie” for Two Pianos by Paul Schoenfeld.
Le Tombeau de Couperin: “Rigaudon” – Maurice Ravel
Moonlight Sonata: “Adagio sostenuto” – Ludwig van Beethoven
For over three decades, French-Canadian pianist Louis Lortie has performed world-wide, building a reputation as one of the world’s most versatile pianists. He extends his interpretative voice across a broad spectrum of repertoire, and his performances and award-winning recordings attest to his remarkable musical range. In demand on five continents, Lortie has established long-term partnerships with orchestras such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France and Dresden Philharmonic in Europe, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, and, of course, Pacific Symphony. Lortie performs the “Adagio sostenuto” movement from Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata. A German music critic coined the sonata’s nickname because he felt the “Adagio sostenuto” movement reminded him of moonlight glistening on water.
Symphony No. 5 in C Minor: I. Allegro con brio – Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major: II. Andante con moto – Ludwig van Beethoven
The internationally renowned André Watts enjoys a long association with Pacific Symphony and a close friendship with Carl St.Clair. Both were discovered by the legendary Leonard Bernstein. Watts burst upon the music world at the age of 16 when Bernstein chose him to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic on one of the orchestra’s Young People’s Concerts, a concert which was broadcast nationwide on CBS-TV. Only two weeks later, Bernstein asked him to substitute at the last minute for the ailing Glenn Gould in performances of Liszt’s E-flat Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, thus launching his career in storybook fashion. More than half a century later, André Watts remains one of America’s most distinguished and celebrated performing artists. Watts performs the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, a work he has performed frequently throughout his career. The New York Times praised Watts’ interpretation of the Fourth Concerto for his “straightforward interpretation enhanced by pianism of extraordinary refinement…He seemed to have an almost infinite range of colors and moods at his disposal.”
Moment Musicaux No. 4 in E Minor – Sergei Rachmaninoff
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Variation 18: Andante cantabile – Sergei Rachmaninoff
Russian-American pianist Olga Kern is now recognized as one of her generation’s great artists. With her vivid stage presence, passionately confident musicianship and extraordinary technique, the striking pianist continues to captivate fans and critics alike. Olga Kern was born into a family of musicians with direct links to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff and began studying piano at the age of five. She jumpstarted her U.S. career with her historic Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas as the first woman to do so in more than thirty years. At age 17, Kern won First Prize winner of the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition and throughout her career, she has been a favored interpreter of the composer’s music.