The Elgin Symphony Orchestra, with music director Andrew Grams, will present the music of Johannes Brahms and Charles Ives at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 13, at Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way in Elgin.
The program showcases acclaimed German pianist Alexander Schimpf in a performance of the majestic Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, one of the most technically challenging works in the piano repertoire.
The concert also features Symphony No. 2 by American composer Charles Ives, known for pushing musical boundaries with his groundbreaking compositions. This will be the first performance of the Ives piece for the ESO and continues this season's focus on American composers.
Tickets start at $30 and a Musically Speaking preconcert talk with Andrew Grams begins one hour before the show.
After Saturday night's performance, the audience is invited to the ESO's Mingle with the Musicians at the Elgin Public House, 219 E Chicago St. For tickets, contact the box office at (847) 888-4000 or visit ElginSymphony.org.
"When people hear the name Johannes Brahms, they think of beauty and harmony. When people hear the name Charles Ives, they think of dissonant music, but this concert will change minds about that," says conductor Andrew Grams. "In Symphony No. 2, Ives took the same symphonic ideas of Brahms, used American popular tunes such as 'Turkey in the Straw,' 'Camptown Races' and 'America the Beautiful' and wove them together to create a Brahms-style symphony."
Alexander Schimpf has risen to prominence by winning a series of competitions -- first the 2008 German Music Competition, a distinction no pianist had earned for 14 years, then winning first prize at the 2009 International Beethoven Competition in Vienna and finally emerging as the first German pianist ever to win first prize at the 2011 Cleveland International Piano Competition. His final round performance that year at Severance Hall with the Cleveland Orchestra was given a standing ovation and he was additionally honored with the Audience Favorite Prize. Since winning these notable awards, Alexander Schimpf's career has gained momentum with regular appearances at important music centers around the world. Schimpf studied piano with Wolfgang Manz, Winfried Apel, and Bernd Glemser. The pianists Cécile Ousset and Janina Fialkowska also played an important role in his artistic development.
Andrew Grams became music director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra in June 2013 after an international search. A graduate of the Julliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music, he holds degrees in violin performance and conducting and has already appeared with many of the great orchestras of the world. Grams was a protégé of Franz Welser-Möst and served as assistant conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra for three years. Named 2015 Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras, his charismatic conducting and easy accessibility have made him a favorite of Elgin Symphony audiences. He recently extended his contract through the 2020-2021 ESO season.
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra, now in its 65th season, offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. Known for their high-quality performances, ESO musicians represent some of the most talented musical artists in the region. In addition to magnificent music, patrons can also enjoy a drink, spend time with friends and even shop in the lobby of the Hemmens Cultural Center. From start to finish, the ESO brings world class, big city entertainment without the hassles of the big city.