2016 Sun Valley Summer Symphony To Feature Stravinsky’s ‘The Firebird’ with Immense Puppets, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3
In Focus Series to Present New Commission from Time for Three
SUN VALLEY, Idaho — The 2016 Sun Valley Summer Symphony will feature a special production of Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” with elaborate 20-foot puppets, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with one of the largest orchestras ever to perform here, and world-renowned soloists ranging from mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung to pianist Joyce Yang.
The Aug. 7 Gala benefit will star sparkling actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth, known for her television roles in “The West Wing” and “Pushing Daisies” and holder of both Emmy and Tony awards.
All performances except the Gala offer free seats inside the open-air Sun Valley Pavilion or outside on the lawn.
With concerts July 24 through Aug. 18, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony is the largest admission-free, privately funded symphony in America.
The Sun Valley Summer Symphony collaborated with four major orchestras across the country to commission the production of “The Firebird ” for the Aug. 1 opening of the orchestra festival. The hour-long concert will begin at 8:30 p.m., a later starting time, to take advantage of special lighting effects that are best seen after sunset.
The event will unite Russian folktales and South African puppetry in a multidisciplinary interpretation of Stravinsky’s composition for the 1910 ballet “The Firebird.”
The puppets were inspired by the artistry of the Broadway sensation “War Horse” and created by Janni Younge of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company. The puppets are as large as 20 feet in height and maneuvered by multiple puppeteers. A stage extension is being constructed to accommodate the large orchestra and performers.
“This is a simply must-see experience,” said Music Director Alasdair Neale. “Stravinsky’s kaleidoscope of orchestral colors paired with the visionary and sophisticated artistry of the Handspring puppet creators will be an opening night to remember.”
Joining with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony to commission this production are the festivals of Ravinia, Wolf Trap, Mann Music Center, Saratoga and the Hollywood Bowl. The additional orchestras performing the work are the Chicago Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 lasts 92 minutes and will be the longest single work ever performed by the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. The symphony, the composer’s tribute to the natural world, will have 106 orchestra members plus a women’s chorus and a youth chorus with 30 members each. Soloist DeYoung will bring the total number of musicians to 167 for the closing performance on Aug. 18.
“Perhaps more than any of Mahler’s nine symphonies, the third embodies his dictum that ‘the symphony must be like the world: It must embrace everything.’ It’s an immersive experience that takes us on an incredible journey. I doubt anyone listening to it for the first time will emerge unchanged,” Neale said.
DeYoung, holder of two Grammy awards, recorded Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony.
Her engagements this season include a return to the Metropolitan Opera in “Tannhäuser,” and appearances with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra both in Dallas and on tour in Europe and with the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
The season opens with the In Focus series July 24 -28. This year’s theme is “The Chamber Orchestra: Good Things, Small Packages,” and will trace the evolution of the chamber orchestra from Bach to contemporary music.
The concert on July 24 presents three of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, featuring several of the orchestra’s musicians as soloists.
Pianist Orli Shaham will perform Mozart’s Concerto for Piano No. 21 in C Major in the In Focus series on July 26. The New York Times has called her a “brilliant pianist,” The Chicago Tribune has referred to her as “a first-rate Mozartean” and London’s Guardian said her playing was “perfection.” This will be her third appearance in Sun Valley. Her brother, violinist Gil Shaham, played here last year.
The In Focus series will conclude July 28 with a commissioned work by Time for Three, now in its second year of a three-year residency with the Symphony.
The groundbreaking, category-shattering trio Time for Three transcends traditional classification, with elements of classical, country western, gypsy and jazz idioms forming a blend all its own. The members — Nicolas “Nick” Kendall and Nikki Chooi playing the violin and Ranaan Meyer, double bass — carry a passion for improvisation, composing and arranging, all prime elements of the ensemble’s playing.
As part of the orchestra festival, Joyce Yang will perform Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 in C Major for Piano – a showcase for the symphony’s recently acquired Steinway – on Aug. 6. Yang came to international attention in 2005 when she won the silver medal at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition at age 19.
She made her New York Philharmonic debut with Lorin Maazel in November 2006 and performed on the orchestra’s tour of Asia, making a triumphant return to her hometown of Seoul, South Korea.
Violinist Augustin Hadelich, whose recent CD was listed by NPR as one of the “Top 10 Classical CDs in 2014,” will play Dvorak’s Concerto for Violin in A Minor on Aug. 10.
Michael Krajewski, conductor of The Philly Pops and principal pops conductor of the Houston, Atlanta and Jacksonville symphonies, will conduct the orchestra on Aug. 13 in a program of blockbuster movie music.
Details on these concerts, as well as a complete list of performances, are on the Symphony’s website at www.svsummersymphony.org.
About Sun Valley Summer Symphony
The Sun Valley Summer Symphony, now in its 32nd season, is the largest privately funded free-admission orchestra in America. More than 100 world-class musicians from North America’s most distinguished orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Houston Symphony, convene for July and August concerts in the mountain resort of Sun Valley, Idaho. Internationally renowned guest artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Yefim Bronfman, Thomas Hampson, James Ehnes, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Audra McDonald, Garrick Ohlsson, Midori, Yuja Wang and Deborah Voigt have performed in the spectacular Sun Valley Pavilion, set in front of Bald Mountain and built from travertine hand-selected in Italy for the venue. In keeping with its mission, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony is involved in the community, sponsoring the year-round School of Music for students ages 9 to 18, Summer Music Workshops and adult education programs. Additional information is available online at svsummersymphony.org.