It was announced last year that 2012-2013 would be Michael Christie’s last season as Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony. His official farewell is not until next May but this season is being touted on the Symphony’s website as “a season filled with the brightest and most exciting guest conductors to come to Phoenix in years” so I expect to see a some unfamiliar backs at the podium. The season kicks off tonight with what should be an interesting concert.
The guest conductor this evening is Sarah Hicks. Heralded in the New York Times as part of “a new wave of female conductors in their late 20’s through early 40’s”, Sarah Hicks’s versatile and vibrant musicianship has secured her place in “the next generation of up-and-coming American conductors”.
Ms. Hicks was born in Japan and raised in Hawaii. Trained on both piano and viola, she was a prizewinning pianist by her early teens. She received her BA magna cum laude from Harvard University. She holds an Artists’ Degree in conducting from the Curtis Institute of Music.
The program opens and closes with the work of Leonard Bernstein. The performance begins with the Overture to Candide and finishes with Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Initially that struck me as odd since we subscribe to the “Classical” Series rather than the “Pops” series. Certainly no composer is better able to straddle a line between those too genres than Mr. Bernstein and both pieces will be familiar so I am looking forward to them.
In between the Bernstein bookends are Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major and Hungarian Dances Nos. 5 & 6 by Brahms.
Appearing as guest soloist for the Violin Concerto is Elena Urioste. Ms.Urioste has performed as a soloist with major orchestras all over the world, She was featured on the cover of Symphony magazine as an emerging artist to watch.
Commenting on her blog about the piece she will be performing she wrote; “The Beethoven Concerto is indisputably the crown jewel of the violin repertoire, and beyond that, one of the most sublime works of music in the history of anything.”
It should be an enjoyable evening of music and a great start for the season.