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Elgar & Scheherazade

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Elgar & Scheherazade

Saturday, February 24—Sunday, February 25, 2024

Saturday, February 24—Sunday, February 25, 2024
Orchestra Hall
2 hours
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Mendelssohn’s overture starts with four captivating chords, then wham!—the strings take off. Alisa Weilerstein, “the most outstanding cellist to emerge in America since Yo-Yo Ma,” (Classical Voice North America) plays Elgar’s concerto, written in the aftermath of World War I. Rimsky-Korsakov’s showpiece whirls with colossal and dazzling orchestral forces.

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Program

FELIX MENDELSSOHN
Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream
EDWARD ELGAR
Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85
NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV
Scheherazade, Op. 35

Artists

Jader Bignamini

conductor

Jader Bignamini was introduced as the 18th music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in January 2020, commencing with the 2020–2021 season. His infectious passion and artistic excellence set the tone for the seasons ahead, creating extraordinary music and establishing a close relationship with the orchestra. A jazz aficionado, he has immersed himself in Detroit’s rich jazz culture and the influences of American music.

In December, Bignamini returned to Detroit to lead a triumphant performance of Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst, Strauss’s Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.” He returned again in May 2021 to conduct four programs including performances with violinist Midori and pianist Orli Shaham.

A native of Crema, Italy, Bignamini studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory and began his career as a musician (clarinet) with Orchestra Sinfonica La Verdi in Milan, later serving as the group’s resident conductor. Captivated by the operatic arias of legends like Mahler and Tchaikovsky, Jader explored their complexity and power, puzzling out the role that each instrument played in creating a larger-than-life sound. When he conducted his first professional concert at the age of 28, it didn’t feel like a departure, but an arrival.

In the years since, Bignamini has conducted some of the world’s most acclaimed orchestras and opera companies in venues across the globe including working with Riccardo Chailly on concerts of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in 2013 and his concert debut at La Scala in 2015 for the opening season of La Verdi Orchestra. Recent highlights include debuts with the Houston, Dallas, and Minnesota symphonies; Osaka Philharmonic and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo; with the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Dutch National Opera (Madama Butterfly); Bayerische Staatsoper (La Traviata); I Puritani in Montpellier for the Festival of Radio France; Traviata in Tokyo directed by Sofia Coppola; return engagements with Oper Frankfurt (La forza del destino) and Santa Fe Opera (La Bohème); Manon Lescaut at the Bolshoi; Traviata, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot at Arena of Verona; Il Trovatoreand Aida at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera; Madama Butterfly, I Puritani, and Manon Lescaut at Teatro Massimo in Palermo; Simon Boccanegra and La Forza del Destino at the Verdi Festival in Parma; Ciro in Babilonia at Rossini Opera Festival and La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, and Elisir d’amore at La Fenice in Venice.

When Bignamini leads an orchestra in symphonic repertoire, he conducts without a score, preferring to make direct eye contact with the musicians. He conducts from the heart, forging a profound connection with his musicians that shines through both onstage and off. He both embodies and exudes the excellence and enthusiasm that has long distinguished the DSO’s artistry.

Alisa Weilerstein

cello

Alisa Weilerstein is one of the foremost cellists of our time. Known for her consummate artistry, emotional investment and rare interpretive depth, she was recognized with a MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship in 2011. Today her career is truly global in scope, taking her to the most prestigious international venues for solo recitals, chamber concerts and concerto collaborations with all the preeminent conductors and orchestras worldwide. “Weilerstein is a throwback to an earlier age of classical performers: not content merely to serve as a vessel for the composer’s wishes, she inhabits a piece fully and turns it to her own ends,” marvels the New York Times. “Weilerstein’s cello is her id. She doesn’t give the impression that making music involves will at all. She and the cello seem simply to be one and the same,” agrees the Los Angeles Times. As the UK’s Telegraph put it, “Weilerstein is truly a phenomenon.”

With her multi-season new project, “FRAGMENTS,” Weilerstein aims to rethink the concert experience and broaden the tent for classical music. A multisensory production for solo cello, the six-chapter series sees her weave together the 36 movements of Bach’s solo cello suites with 27 new commissions. After premiering the first two chapters in Toronto in early 2023, with subsequent performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall and beyond, she looks forward to touring all six chapters in seasons to come. Weilerstein recently premiered Joan Tower’s new cello concerto, A New Day, at the Colorado Music Festival. The work was co-commissioned with the Detroit Symphony; the Cleveland Orchestra, where Weilerstein performed it last fall; and the National Symphony, where she reprised it in May. An ardent proponent of contemporary music, she has also premiered and championed important new works by composers including Pascal Dusapin, Osvaldo Golijov, and Matthias Pintscher. Already an authority on Bach’s music for unaccompanied cello, in spring 2020 Weilerstein released a best-selling recording of his solo suites on the Pentatone label, streamed them in her innovative #36DaysOfBach project, and deconstructed his beloved G-major prelude in a Vox.com video, viewed more than two million times. Her discography also includes chart-topping albums and the winner of BBC Music’s “Recording of the Year” award, while other career milestones include a performance at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at nine years old, Weilerstein is a staunch advocate for the T1D community. She lives with her husband, Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare, and their two young children.

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Sunday, February 25
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