2017 Season Announcement

The Sun Valley Summer Symphony will celebrate its 10th season in the R. E. Holding Sun Valley Pavilion this summer with an opening orchestra concert featuring Lang Lang, the pianist described by The New York Times as the “hottest artist on the classical music planet.”

The In Focus series will run from July 24-28 and the orchestra festival, July 31 through Aug. 17. Performances will include a dozen of the continent’s leading trumpeters and Grammy winner and violinist James Ehnes. Metropolitan Opera stars Jamie Barton, Angela Meade and Alfred Walker will be soloists in the season finale, Verdi’s “Requiem.”

The symphony will perform the world premiere of two works it commissioned for this summer: the final composition in the three-year Project Tf3 partnership with the genre-defying trio Time for Three and “Breaking Light,” a concerto for percussion and orchestra by symphony timpanist Alex Orfaly.

Founded in 1985, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony is the largest privately funded free-admission orchestra in the United States. It brings together more than 100 musicians from major orchestras across the country and Canada, including those in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, Houston, Toronto, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

The season will begin with the In Focus series from July 24-28. Entitled “The Russian Soul in Music: From Tchaikovsky to Shostakovich,” this series will feature Sun Valley Summer Symphony musicians performing in intimate ensembles. Brief discussions about the programs bring the music “into focus.”

The opening In Focus program features Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 2 in D Major for Violin and Piano, with the symphony’s Juliana Athayde on the violin and Peter Henderson on the piano.

Pianist Conrad Tao, performing with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony for the second time, will play Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 in C Minor for Piano on July 26 and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” on July 28. San Francisco Classical Voice has called Tao’s playing “full of thrills: laser-sharp articulation and accuracy, powerful glissandos … and, what’s more, heartfelt expression.”

Opening night of the orchestra festival on July 31 celebrates the 10th anniversary opening of the Pavilion, and will repeat two works performed on the opening of the Pavilion in 2008. The evening was dedicated to the Earl and Carol Holding family, owners of Sun Valley Resort and the Pavilion.

“The Sun Valley Summer Symphony is a unique institution. It is indebted to the generosity of individuals to a degree that would never exist anywhere else in the world and is unusual even by American standards,” Music Director Alasdair Neale said. “Aaron Copland is the patron saint of American composers, so it makes sense to open the orchestra festival season and this concert with his uniquely American sound.”

Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” will be followed by Kevin Puts’ composition, “Hymn to the Sun,” which was commissioned by the Sun Valley Summer Symphony for the Pavilion’s grand opening.

Concluding the opening program will be a return to Russian music, with Lang Lang performing Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp Minor for Piano.

This will be the first Sun Valley performance for Lang Lang, who began winning piano competitions as a child. His autobiography, “Journey of a Thousand Miles,” tells how he learned to play the piano at the age of 3 in a small Chinese town and went on to receive a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. The autobiography has been translated into 11 languages.

The season will showcase the symphony in expansive orchestra works such as Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and Strauss’ “Ein Heldenleben,” while highlighting guest artists and individual orchestra members on other evenings.

Ehnes, described by The Huffington Post as “one of the world’s most acclaimed violin soloists,” will perform Elgar’s Concerto in B Minor for Violin on Aug. 8. He holds a Grammy, a Gramophone and 11 JUNO awards.

“We have been wanting to present this piece for a long time, and have been waiting for the right partner,” Neale said. “James Ehnes has an incredible blend of head and heart.”

Verdi’s “Requiem,” often referred to as Verdi’s “greatest opera,” will close the 2017 season on Aug. 17. The spectacularly dramatic 80-minute work was written as a tribute to Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist whom Verdi admired. It will bring together the 150-member American Festival Chorus, vocal soloists and an orchestra with 12 trumpets in what NPR has described as “the drama of opera and the thrill of wonderful symphonic writing combined with stellar, virtuosic solo moments. … and more.”

“Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ is one of the masterpieces of the classical canon,” Neale said. “Whatever your beliefs may be, you will hear something extraordinary and beautiful.”

Soloists will include Walker, lauded by Opera News for his “inky bass-baritone and clear projection,” mezzo-soprano Barton and soprano Meade.

Barton and Meade both hold opera’s Richard Tucker Award for emerging artists, and Opera News has hailed Meade as “the most talked about soprano of her generation.” The Guardian has described Barton as “a great artist.” The New York Times has praised her, saying “her mezzo pours out like lava” and her voice is “majestically plush yet somehow always articulate.”

“The works for trumpet are particularly remarkable,” Neale added. “We will have 12 incredible trumpet players from across the United States and Canada in orchestra concerts on Aug. 13 and 17 and a chamber concert Aug. 14. These players have never before all performed together.”

The In Focus performances and Verdi’s “Requiem” will begin at 6 p.m. and all other concerts at 6:30 p.m. Free seating is available inside the Pavilion as well as on the lawn for all concerts.

February 1, 2017