New Philharmonic presents Korngold's "Hollywood Concerto" Jan. 21 & 22 at the MAC

  • Award-winning youth violinist Esme Arias-Kim joins New Philharmonic in its celebration of Hollywood's Golden Age on Jan. 21-22.

    Award-winning youth violinist Esme Arias-Kim joins New Philharmonic in its celebration of Hollywood's Golden Age on Jan. 21-22. Courtesy of Craig Gorkiewicz

Updated 1/16/2023 7:39 PM

"Music is music whether it is for the stage, rostrum, or cinema," said Erich Korngold, an Austrian-born composer of Hollywood's Golden Age. New Philharmonic, the only professional orchestra based in DuPage County, opens 2023 with a program featuring Korngold's Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, or "Hollywood Concerto," and showcasing award-winning prodigious young violinist Esme Arias-Kim.

The New Philharmonic's celebration of Hollywood's Golden Age will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, in the Belushi Performance Hall at the McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd. in Glen Ellyn.


According to Los Angeles writer Chris Heckmann, "The golden age of Hollywood was a period in American filmmaking in which the five major studios, MGM, Paramount, Fox, Warner Bros., and RKO, dominated the production of major motion pictures … Although there's some contention as to when the golden age began and ended, most critics agree that it 'existed' in some capacity from the late 1910s into the early 1960s."

For Erich Korngold, who was born in Austria in 1897 and who had begun as a Mozart-like child prodigy in Vienna, writing music for Hollywood films started as a side gig in the 1930s. However, it didn't only turn him into the first composer of international level to write Hollywood scores, but also saved his life, as the rise of the Nazis was extremely dangerous for this Jewish composer and his family.

Korngold was a noted pianist, conductor and composer of classical music, and his music written for Hollywood films made him one of the most important and influential composers in Hollywood history. His father, famous music critic Julius Korngold, asked Erich to write more serious music. Erich loved his scores for films, so he reworked main themes from his movies and masterfully compiled them together into a beautiful symphonic structure. The "Hollywood Concerto" got its name after one of the New York Times writers called it Korngold's Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35.

It was very important for New Philharmonic to find an outstanding violinist who would join the orchestra to perform "Hollywood Concerto." Maestro Kirk Muspratt made a brilliant choice by inviting an extremely talented 16-year-old violinist, Esme Arias-Kim, to be a guest artist for this performance.

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As Guarneri Hall mentions on its website, Esme began her violin studies at the age of two and a half, made her solo orchestral debut at 10 with the Oistrakh Symphony, and has had solo appearances with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Sinfonia da Camera, Ottawa Chamber Orchestra, Midwest Young Artists Symphony Orchestra, Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra, Accademia d'Archi Arrigoni Orchestra, and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also presented solo recitals at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, the Chicago Cultural Center, 92Y New York and Musikferien am Starnberger See in Germany.

Arias-Kim is currently a Merit Scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago's Academy, a training center for outstanding pre-college students. She is also a fellow of the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative. She is a first-place winner in many prestigious competitions.

During the summer of 2018, she was the only American among the 16 finalists selected to compete in Il Piccolo Violino Magico International Competition in Italy. In 2020, she received the Grand Prize in the Junior division of the Sphinx Competition and was awarded the Overall Open Division Grand Winner and Open Senior Division Overall Winner in the 2020 Walgreens National Concerto Competition. She has even performed a solo recital at Carnegie Hall. Arias-Kim has also appeared on WFMT's "Introductions" and NPR's "From the Top."

Interestingly, "Hollywood Concerto" has already helped Esme get one of her awards. Last year, Esme Arias-Kim was the winner of the 2022 Arthur D. Montzka Young Artists Concerto Competition where she performed Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, by Korngold. Now, the New Philharmonic audience will have a chance to hear Esme play this masterpiece alongside their favorite orchestra.


The concert program will also feature selections from Korngold's scores for the Errol Flynn swashbuckling films "Sea Hawk" and "Captain Blood" as well as Ron Goodwin's "633 Squadron" (1964), Nino Rota's "The Godfather" (1972) and Franz Waxman's "Prince Valiant Suite" (1954). It will also include what may be Romanian composer's George Enesco's best-known work, the ebullient and kinetic "Romanian Rhapsody No. 1."

It's important to note that at the top of this concert program, the Glenbard South H.S. orchestra under the direction of Stephen Govertson will join New Philharmonic for a side-by-side performance of Jean Sibelius' "Finlandia."

This tone poem by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius was written in 1899 for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire and was the last of seven pieces performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history. Contemporary action film fans may recognize this work as being featured in the soundtrack of "Die Hard 2: Die Harder."

Tickets are $53. For students, $10 tickets are available, based on availability.

For more information, visit or call the MAC box office at (630) 942-4000, from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and three hours prior to performance.

Season support for New Philharmonic is provided in part by the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation; Bjarne R. Ullsvik; Brookdale Glen Ellyn; STG Divorce Law; a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency; WDCB 90.9 FM and the College of DuPage Foundation.

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