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Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto

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Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto

Thursday, June 15—Sunday, June 18, 2023

Thursday, June 15—Sunday, June 18, 2023
Southfield, Monroe, Beverly Hills
2 hours

Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto, played here by pianist Shai Wosner, moves from heroic grandeur to quiet reflection before erupting in a boisterous dance. Also on the program is Hindemith’s symphony inspired by the work of a German Renaissance painter, full of transporting brass sonorities.


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Garages of the Valley
Symphony: Mathis der Maler
Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor"


Francesco Lecce-Chong


Francesco Lecce-Chong has been described by the press as a “fast rising talent in the music world” with “the real gift” and recognized for his dynamic performances, fresh programming, deep commitment to commissioning and performing new music as well as to community engagement. Mr. Lecce-Chong has appeared with orchestras worldwide including the San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic and collaborated with top soloists such as Renée Fleming and Itzhak Perlman. Francesco Lecce-Chong is the Music Director of the Eugene Symphony in Oregon, and the Santa Rosa Symphony, performing at the Green Music Center in Northern California.

In 2019, Mr. Lecce-Chong debuted in subscription concerts with the San Francisco Symphony. The San Francisco Chronicle called his conducting “first rate” praising the “vitality and brilliance of the music-making he drew from members of the San Francisco Symphony.” Other recent subscription debuts include the Seattle Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Utah Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic and Xi’An Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Lecce-Chong also returned to conduct the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Milwaukee and San Diego Symphony. In 2019, he also debuted with the New York Philharmonic as part of the legendary Young People’s Concert Series.

Mr. Lecce-Chong’s 2022/23 seasons includes debut performances with the Kansas City Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Knoxville Symphony, a return to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and a European appearance at the renowned Enescu Festival with the Romanian Radio Orchestra. He continues a Rachmaninoff symphonic cycle in Santa Rosa, presents the second act of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in Eugene, and leads the world premieres of new major orchestral works by Ellen Taafe Zwillich and Angélica Negrón.

In the previous seasons that were heavily impacted by the pandemic, Mr. Lecce-Chong created and led a series of virtual performances with both the Santa Rosa and the Eugene Symphony. The full season of performances was streamed for free to thousands of enthusiastic viewers around the world. The Santa Rosa Symphony also reached over two million households in the Bay Area through its “Santa Rosa Symphony Presents” TV broadcasts through local PBS. The programming included over 20 works by living composers and a groundbreaking partnership with the Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Taaffe Zwillich, culminating in a recording of her music by the Santa Rosa Symphony released in September 2022 on the Delos label.

During his tenure as Music Director of two orchestras, Mr. Lecce-Chong has introduced a number of ambitious projects. He launched the “First Symphony Project” that consists of the Santa Rosa and Eugene Symphonies co-commissioning a large-scale  work from a young American composer each season, complete with residencies in the communities. The Eugene Symphony has embarked on a three-part concert presentation of Wagner’s complete Tristan und Isolde and the Santa Rosa Symphony launched a cycle of the large orchestral works of Rachmaninoff paired with legendary film composers entitled “Rachmaninoff and the Hollywood Sound”. Last season, Mr. Lecce-Chong led the world premieres of five major orchestral works including an ecology-inspired work by Grammy-winning composer Michael Daugherty, a work for mariachi and orchestra by Enrico Chapela, and a dramatic work with actors based on the life of Olympic athlete Steve Prefontaine by David Schiff. He continues to build partnerships with local art institutions, schools and businesses to create original, multi-disciplinary experiences for his audiences.

Before his music directorships, Mr. Lecce-Chong served as Associate Conductor with the Milwaukee Symphony under Edo de Waart and the Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck. He has also been building his opera credentials as staff conductor with the Santa Fe Opera and conducted Madama Butterfly at the Florentine Opera with the Milwaukee Symphony.

Mr. Lecce-Chong is the recipient of several distinctions, including the prestigious Solti Foundation Award. Trained also as a pianist and composer, he completed his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with Otto-Werner Mueller after attending the Mannes College of Music and Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Italy. He has had the privilege of being mentored and supported by celebrated conductors including Bernard Haitink, David Zinman, Edo de Waart, Manfred Honeck, Donald Runnicles and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Shai Wosner

Pianist Shai Wosner has attracted international recognition for his exceptional artistry, musical integrity, and creative insight. His performances of a broad range of repertoire—from Beethoven and Schubert to Ligeti and the music of today—reflect a degree of virtuosity and intellectual curiosity that has made him a favorite among audiences and critics, who note his “keen musical mind and deep musical soul” (NPR’s All Things Considered).

Committed to innovative programming, his latest project is Variations on a Theme of FDR, a suite of five variations by five composers—Derek Bermel, Anthony Cheung, John Harbison, Vijay Iyer, and Wang Lu—who were given as their ‘theme’ a quote from a 1938 speech by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “Remember, remember always, that all of us… are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” Each variation is inspired by the story of a particular immigrant chosen by each composer. Mr. Wosner’s idea of collecting variations on a shared theme from a variety of composers was inspired by the similar initiative undertaken two centuries ago by music publisher Anton Diabelli—an effort that led to the composition of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, with which Variations on a Theme of FDR is paired in recital. The project was commissioned by Peoples’ Symphony Concerts in New York City, where Wosner is the 2020-2024 Artist-in-residence, as well as Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Other performances on tour include The Wallis in Beverly Hills and the Vienna Konzerthaus.

Another current project is “Signs, Games & Messages,” a festival devoted to unusual juxtaposition of works for various combinations of instruments inspired by the musical explorations of the Hungarian composer György Kurtág. The festival launches in spring 2022, at Bard College Conservatory of Music, where he is on faculty, with guest artists including the JACK Quartet as well as veteran violinist Arnold Steindhardt featured as storyteller in a program that is based on Kurtág’s seminal, hour-long work Kafka-Fragments.

Additional highlights of Mr. Wosner’s 2021–22 season include Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with the Jerusalem Symphony and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with The Orchestra Now; a week-long residency at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, culminating in chamber performances of works by Brahms and Fauré; performances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center where he has been a regular artist since 2002; concertos by J.S. Bach and Brett Dean on tour with ECCO (East Coast Chamber Orchestra) with whom he has a longstanding relationship; Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-flat major, K. 450, with the Princeton Symphony; Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Albany Symphony; and performances around the U.S. and China with violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth.

Mr. Wosner records for Onyx Classics, and his most recent album, a selection of Schubert piano sonatas released in March 2020, continued his career-long, critically acclaimed engagement with the composer’s music. This double album completes Mr. Wosner’s recorded series of the composer’s last six sonatas, which he has also performed as a recital series in New York at the 92 nd Street Y; in Washington, DC at The Phillips Collection; at Duke University in Durham, NC; and at the Konzerthaus Berlin. Additional recordings include Impromptu, comprising improvisationally inspired works by composers from Beethoven and Schubert to Gershwin and Ives; concertos and capriccios by Haydn and Ligeti with the Danish National Symphony conducted by Nicholas Collon; an all-Schubert solo album featuring a selection of the composer’s folk-inspired piano works; solo works by Brahms and Schoenberg; and works by Schubert paired with new works by Missy Mazzoli. As a chamber musician, Mr. Wosner has recorded Beethoven’s complete sonatas and variations for cello and piano with Ralph Kirshbaum and—for Cedille Records—works by Bartók, Janáček, and Kurtág with his duo partner of many years, violinist Jennifer Koh.

Mr. Wosner is a recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award—a prize he used to commission Michael Hersch’s concerto Along the Ravines, which he performed with the Seattle Symphony and Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in its world and European premieres. He was in residence with the BBC as a New Generation Artist, during which he appeared frequently with the BBC orchestras, including conducting Mozart concertos from the keyboard with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He returned to the BBC Scottish Symphony in both subscription concerts and Proms performances with Donald Runnicles and appeared with the BBC Philharmonic in a live broadcast from Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. As a concerto soloist in North America, Mr. Wosner has appeared with the major orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Berkeley, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, San Francisco, and Toronto, among others. In addition to the BBC orchestras, he has performed abroad with the Aurora Orchestra, Barcelona Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, LSO St. Luke’s, Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, Orchestre National de Belgique, Staatskapelle Berlin, and the Vienna Philharmonic, among others. Mr. Wosner has also appeared with the Orpheus, St. Paul, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, having conducted the latter from the keyboard in a 2010 concert that was broadcast on American Public Radio. Recently, he toured with ECCO to Memphis, Philadelphia, and New York for the world-premiere performances of Christopher Cerrone’s piano concerto The Air Suspended.

Mr. Wosner has worked with such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Jiří Bělohlávek, James Conlon, Alan Gilbert, Gunther Herbig, James Judd, Zubin Mehta, Peter Oundjian, Donald Runnicles, Leonard Slatkin, Jeffrey Tate, and Yan Pascal Tortelier, and has performed at summer festivals including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Chautauqua Music Festival, Bravo! Vail festival, Grand Teton Music Festival, Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, and Ravinia Festival. For several consecutive summers, he was involved in the West-Eastern Divan Workshop led by Mr. Barenboim and toured as soloist with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

Widely sought after by colleagues for his versatility and spirit of partnership, Mr. Wosner has collaborated as a chamber musician with numerous artists, including Martha Argerich, Martin Fröst, Lynn Harrell, Dietrich Henschel, Ralph Kirshbaum, Jennifer Koh, Cho-Liang Lin, Christian Tetzlaff, Orion Weiss, and Pinchas Zukerman. He has also collaborated with leading chamber ensembles, including the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet in The Schubert Effect recital series. Mr. Wosner is a past member of Lincoln Center's Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two) and performs regularly at various chamber music festivals, including Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, Piano Aux Jacobins festival in France, and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Born in Israel, Mr. Wosner enjoyed a broad musical education from a very early age, studying piano with Opher Brayer and Emanuel Krasovsky, as well as composition, theory, and improvisation with André Hajdu. He later studied at The Juilliard School with Emanuel Ax. He resides in New York with his wife and two children.

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