The award-winning Elgin Symphony Orchestra will perform the orchestral version of Franz Liszt's famous "Hungarian Rhapsody" No. 2 on Friday, Jan. 5, at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg, and Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 6-7, at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin.
Critically acclaimed conductor and ESO Music Director Andrew Grams conducts.
Franz Liszt was one of the first musical celebrities. During his time as a performer, his charismatic piano-playing and dashing good looks caused a frenzy among his fans. The term "Lisztomania" was coined by poet Heinrich Heine, who noted "how powerful, how shattering was his mere physical appearance." Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 has been featured in many films, video games and cartoons, including Hanna/Barbera's "Tom & Jerry" short, "The Cat Concerto," which won the 1946 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons.
The Jan 5-7 ESO concerts also feature Mozart's 5th violin concerto performed by Bella Hristova, and Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 6, a masterful synthesis of Czech national style and traditional classical-romantic form. Music director Andrew Grams will give a preconcert chat starting one hour before each concert.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, at the Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg; and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, at the Hemmens, 45 Symphony Way in Elgin.
Tickets start at $30. For more information, see ElginSymphony.org. There is valet service at Hemmens or free parking.
Franz Liszt toured Europe for eight years as a concert pianist, often performing three or four times a week. He was met by adulation wherever he went. Women fought over his gloves and handkerchiefs, which were ripped to shreds and shared as souvenirs. Liszt had a mesmerizing personality and stage presence, and many audience members noted that the atmosphere at his performances was one of "mystical ecstasy." Liszt was also a prolific composer. He is best known for his piano music, noted for its technical difficulty, but he also wrote for orchestra and other ensembles. Liszt is said to have created the symphonic poem form, using poetry and art as musical inspiration.
With a combination of intensity, enthusiasm and technical clarity, American conductor Andrew Grams has steadily built a reputation for his dynamic concerts and long-term orchestra building. He is the winner of 2015 Conductor of the Year from the Illinois Council of Orchestras and has led orchestras throughout the United States including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Detroit Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, and the Houston Symphony. Grams served as assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra from 2004-2007 where he worked under the guidance of Franz Welser-Möst, and has since returned for several engagements.
Grams, now in his fifth ESO season, became music director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra after an international search. His powerful conducting and easy accessibility have made him a favorite of Elgin Symphony audiences. He has extended his contract with the ESO through 2021. In addition to leading major orchestras throughout the United States, he has also worked extensively with orchestras abroad, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchester der Beethovenhalle Bonn, BBC Symphony Orchestra London, Sydney Symphony, Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. In 2015-16, Grams led a Gershwin festival with the Orquestra Simfoica de Barcelona before returning to Australia to work with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Western Australia Symphony Orchestra.
Born in Severn, Maryland, Grams began studying the violin when he was 8 years old. In 1999, he received a bachelor of music in violin performance from The Juilliard School, and in 2003 he received a conducting degree from the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied with Otto-Werner Mueller. He was selected to spend the summer of 2003 studying with David Zinman, Murry Sidlin and Michael Stern at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen and returned to that program again in 2004. Grams served as assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra from 2004-2007 where he worked under the guidance of Franz Welser-Möst, and has since returned for several engagements.
Now in its 67th season, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. It has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times -- in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016. The ESO strives to create an enjoyable entertainment experience that goes beyond the magnificent music performed by some of the best musicians in the region. Before concerts, area musicians often perform in the lobby, and patrons can buy drinks at the bar and purchase gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique.
Preconcert chats are given by Music Director Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before most performances, and Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to "Mingle with the Musicians" at area restaurants. In addition, free Listeners Club discussions presented by music historian Jim Kendros are offered in Geneva and Elgin on Wednesdays before ESO Classics Series concert weekends. Flex passes are available for purchase so that you can choose your concerts at a later date based on your own schedule. And if a patron can't make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a small fee.
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is a world-class orchestra providing quality musical explorations that are entertaining, hassle-free and conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs.