Distinguished American pianist and classical music legend Peter Serkin will perform with the Eastman School of Music’s Philharmonia orchestra under conductor Neil Varon on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.
Recognized as an artist of passion and integrity, Serkin is one of the most thoughtful and individualistic musicians appearing before the public today. He will join the Philharmonia in a performance of Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major by W.A. Mozart; the program also includes Richard Wagner’s Overture from Die Meistersinger and Symphony No. 3 in F Major by Johannes Brahms.
Tickets to the concert range from $20 to $85 for the general public and are available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, 433 East Main St.; by phone 585-454-2100; by fax 585-454-7885; or online at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets/. This concert is generously supported by the Fernando Laires Piano Fund created by Professor of Piano Nelita True.
Serkin has appeared with the world’s major symphony orchestras and with such conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Pierre Boulez, Alexander Schneider, Daniel Barenboim, George Szell, Claudio Abbado, Eugene Ormandy, Simon Rattle, James Levine, Herbert Blomstedt, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, and George Cleve. Orchestral highlights of recent seasons have included the Boston, Chicago and Saint Louis Symphonies, New York Philharmonic and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, while recital tours have taken Serkin to Philadelphia, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Santa Monica, Princeton, and New York.
Serkin’s orchestral performances during the 2014-2015 season include Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19 with the San Francisco, Chicago and Dallas Symphonies; Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; and Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Florida Orchestra.
Also a dedicated chamber musician, Serkin has collaborated with Alexander Schneider, Pamela Frank, Yo-Yo Ma, the Budapest, Guarneri, Orion and Shanghai String Quartets, and TASHI, of which he was a founding member. He continues to explore a diverse repertoire with eminent as well as emerging artists including collaborations with cellist Fred Sherry and pianist Julia Hsu this season.
An advocate of many 20th and 21st century composers, Serkin has been instrumental in bringing to life the music of Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Stravinsky, Wolpe, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Henze, Berio, Wuorinen, Goehr, Knussen, and Lieberson to audiences around the world. He has performed many important world premieres written specifically for him, including works by Toru Takemitsu, Hans Werner Henze, Alexander Goehr, Oliver Knussen, Charles Wuorinen, and Peter Lieberson.
Serkin’s rich musical heritage extends back several generations: his grandfather was violinist and composer Adolf Busch and his father pianist Rudolf Serkin. Serkin began studying music in 1958 at the Curtis Institute of Music at age 11 and made his concert debut at the Marlboro Music Festival the following year.
Varon, whose conducting career spans 40 years and several continents, joined the Eastman School of Music faculty as professor of conducting and ensembles in 2002. Born in New York in 1950, he studied piano, composition, and orchestral conducting at The Juilliard School. His teachers included Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood and Herbert von Karajan at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.
Varon was the first Kapellmeister of the Deutsche Opera am Rhein in Dusseldorf and served as the music director of the Südwestfälische Philharmonic and the City of Gelsenkirchen, Germany. As a guest conductor, he has conducted at the New York City Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Stuttgart State Opera, and Berlin Stattsoper, and continues to conduct throughout Europe and Asia. He directed the German premiere of Un Re in Ascolta by Luciano Berio in Düsseldorf, and the world premiere of Erinys by Volker David Kirchner in Wuppertal. He made his Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra debut in 2011 and is one of the orchestra’s regular conductors.
Varon has worked with such important singers as Renée Fleming, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Lucia Popp, Edita Gruberova, Giuseppe di Stefano, Katia Ricciarelli, Piero Cappuccili, and Astrid Varnay, to name a few. His 1998 performance of Die Fledermaus at Hamilton’s “Opera Ontario” was broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
A frequent guest in Asia, Varon led the Tokyo Philharmonic in a series of performances of The Magic Flute for the anniversary Mozart Festival in Japan. He conducted the Korean Symphony in Seoul, the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony in Tokyo, and the Kyushu Philharmonic in Fukuoka.
In December 2014, Varon led the Daegu Symphony Orchestra and four combined choruses in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for the year-end celebratory concert in Daegu, South Korea. He is conducting four performances of Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro at the Chan Center for the Performing Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia, Feb. 5 to 8.
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