NM Philharmonic celebrates its 10th season with Beethoven Festival

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Sep. 26—The New Mexico Philharmonic will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a three-day Beethoven marathon at Popejoy Hall.

Music director Roberto Minczuk will lead the orchestra and pianist Olga Kern through Beethoven's Piano Concertos No. 1, 3 and 5, while her son Vladislav Kern will perform Piano Concerto No. 2.

The orchestra will play the composer's Egmont Overture, the overture to his opera "Fidelio" and "Wellington's Victory" across the three evenings.

The concerts mark the first time Minczuk has conducted the orchestra since February of 2020, when the pandemic shuttered Popejoy.

"We decided we really wanted people to come back with something special," Minczuk said in a telephone interview from Brazil. "Also, last year was Beethoven's 250th anniversary."

The composer penned "Wellington's Victory" to commemorate the duke's victory over Napoleon in 1813. He wrote "Egmont" from 1809-1810 for the play of the same name by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Written in 1805, "Fidelio" was Beethoven's sole opera.

"It's really going to be a musical feast," Minczuk said. "We are finally getting back to normal."

On Oct. 23, violinist Rachel Barton Pine will return to the Popejoy stage to play the Sibelius Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor, the 20th century's most recorded violin concerto.

The musicians will open with Sibelius' "Finlandia," closing with Dvorák's Symphony No. 8. "She's very charismatic and people just love the way she communicates," Minczuk said.

The New York Times called Barton Pine "striking and charismatic," demonstrating a "bravura technique and soulful musicianship."

Olga Kern International Piano Competition winner Tetiana Shafran will return to Popejoy on Nov. 20 with Debussy's "Clair de lune" and Ravel's Piano Concerto. The orchestra will perform Schubert's Symphony No. 8 ("Unfinished") and Liszt preludes.

On Jan. 15, 2022, the legendary Japanese-born American violinist Midori will play Austrian-American composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Violin Concerto, with the orchestra following with Brahms' Symphony No. 2.

"She's one of the greatest violinists in the world," Minczuk said. "We went to the same high school in New York City. We even performed together.

"Midori is a child prodigy," Minczuk continued. "She's been very, very famous from a young age."

The violinist made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 11.

On April 23 pianist Michelle Cann will perform the music of Florence Price and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." The orchestra will play selections from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet."

"She is an amazing pianist," Minczuk said. "She's African American and she's playing a program by a woman composer Florence Price; she's also an African American woman from the turn-of-the-century."

Cann "has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and major orchestras around the world."

Cann made her orchestral debut at 14. She is a champion of the music of Florence Price.

Price is noted as the first African American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra.

If you go

WHAT: The New Mexico Philharmonic 2021/2022 season

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 and Friday, Oct. 1; 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.

WHERE: Popejoy Hall, University of New Mexico, 203 Cornell Drive NE

HOW MUCH: $22-$90 at nmphil.org, 505-925-5858, toll free 877-664-8661.

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