The Block

WMS March Concerts to Feature Pianist Conrad Tao

Muskegon, Michigan, Feb. 9, 2016 – West Michigan Symphony’s March 4 Beethoven and Blue Jeans concert and its March 5 concert at The Block will feature guest pianist Conrad Tao.

Friday, March 4, Tao joins the symphony for its popular Beethoven and Blue Jeans concert, which encourages the audience to join the orchestra in wearing jeans for the performance.

Music Director Scott Speck will direct the symphony in performances that include contemporary living composer Christopher Theofanidis’ “Dreamtime Ancestors.” The piece is described by the composer as a tone poem for orchestra and is based on Australian aboriginal creation myths connected to dreamtime.

The Beethoven piece featured at this seasonal favorite is his Symphony no. 1, Op. 21 in C Major. Dedicated to an aristocratic sponsor and director of the Imperial Library, Baron Gottfried Van Swieten, Beethoven’s first symphony was written when he was 29, a year or two before he would begin to experience his gradual loss of hearing. Influenced by the late Amadeus Mozart and his teacher Franz Joseph Haydn, this first symphony marked the beginning of Beethoven‘s compositional revolution, linking classical and romantic styles.

Finally, Conrad Tao scales the heights of a pianistic Mt. Everest in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23. Written early the composer’s career, it was initially panned as an “unplayable fiasco,” but is now one of the most popular of Tchaikovsky’s compositions and among the best known of all piano concertos.

Awardee of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, Conrad Tao has studied composition with Christopher Theofanidis, composer of “Dreamtime Ancestors.” Named a Gilmore Young Artist and a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Tao appeared on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in music along with Adele and Taylor Swift and organized his own music festival in Brooklyn.

The March 4 Beethoven and Blue Jeans concert will be held at the Frauenthal Theater at 7:30 p.m.

Single tickets for Beethoven and Blue Jeans range from $20 to $49; student tickets are $7.  Tickets may be purchased online at westmichigansymphony.org; by calling 231.726.3231; or in person at 360 W. Western Ave.

The following evening, Saturday, March 5, Tao will perform a solo piano program at The Block, the symphony’s smaller, alternative venue at 360 W. Western Avenue, second floor, in downtown Muskegon.

Tao plans to include pieces by contemporary composers David Lang, Elliott Carter and Julia Wolfe, as well as classic works by Rachmaninoff, Johann Sebastian Bach and finally, “Pictures at an Exhibition” composed by Modeste Mussorgsky in memory his friend, artist Victor Hartmann.

Tickets for The Block performance start at $25. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. the concert begins at 7:30. Reservations can be made by calling the WMS ticket office at 231.726.3231 x223, in person at 360 W. Western Avenue, or online attheblockwestmichigan.org.

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