The Verde Valley Sinfonietta will present pianist Echo Wang as guest artist in its annual “Emerging Artist Concert” Sunday, April 7, 2:30 p.m., in the Sedona Performing Arts Center. She will perform the Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor with the orchestra, under the direction of Kevin Kozacek.
Born in Yancheng, China, Wang is currently a scholarship student at the Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California. She has won top prizes in the Deutschland un China, Gemeinsam in Bewegung International Competition, the Gail Newby Concerto Competition, CAPMT Sonata Competition, and the Best Tchaikovsky Performance International Music Competition.
In addition to the Grieg concerto, another highlight of the April 7 program is Prokofiev’s famous Peter and the Wolf, a symphonic fairy tale originally commissioned in 1936 by the director of the Central Children’s Theater in Moscow.
It has since been performed worldwide so often that it is Prokofiev’s most popular work, beloved by audiences of every age. Local resident John Steinbrunner will narrate the work.
Two opera overtures will round out the program. One is Suppe’s Light Cavalry Overture, most often heard as a bravura concert piece separate from the opera.
It features a galloping brass theme and sounds “Hungarian” because of Suppe’s use of characteristic musical intervals. The other overture is Rossini’s famous William Tell Overture, well known for its appropriation as the theme music for the 1950’s “Lone Ranger” television series. Another kind of emerging artist will be the guest conductor for a segment of the overture.
He is Anthony Maramarco, a former resident of Sedona and longstanding music lover. Tony made the winning bid in the Sinfonietta’s silent auction a year ago, for conducting lessons from Maestro Kozacek and the privilege of conducting “William Tell” with the orchestra. Tony will be returning to Sedona from his new residence in North Carolina for this unique experience – something he says was high on his bucket list.
Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg is perhaps best known for his piano concerto. While it is a vehicle for pianistic virtuosity, and certainly one of the classical music world’s “Top 10 Hits,” it has also been described as a tone poem for piano and orchestra.
The piano and orchestra are in dialogue throughout. From the ominous timpani roll at the beginning to the tranquil melody of the second movement and lively Norwegian dance of the final movement, musical moods cover a full range.
Grieg composed the work at the young age of 24 and proceeded to revise it many times. The final version was completed shortly before his death in 1907 at the age of 64.
Grieg’s style, while incorporating Norwegian folk influences, was also heavily influenced by the German Romantic composer Robert Schumann, whose piano concerto the teenage Grieg had heard performed by Schumann’s wife, piano virtuoso Clara Weick.
In Peter and the Wolf Prokofiev represents each character of the story by a corresponding instrument of the orchestra: the bird by a flute, the duck by an oboe, the cat by a clarinet playing staccato in a low register, the grandfather by a bassoon, the wolf by three horns, Peter by the strings, the hunters by the kettle drums and bass drum. While the narrative provides a layer of imagination, Prokofiev’s enchanting music stands on its own regardless of the story.
Concert sponsors are Paula McLean Holcomb in memory of Edward McLean, Neil and Mary Pope, and the City of Sedona.
For more information about the concert and to buy reduced price tickets (starting at $15) in advance of the concert day, visit the Sinfonietta’s website, www.VVSinfonietta.org.
Tickets are also available at the door at full price ($20, 40, $50, $65). Those who wish to purchase tickets at the door are asked to please arrive at least 45 minutes early.
The Sedona Performing Arts Center is located at 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road in Sedona.