Bringing the 2016 Festival to a suitably festive conclusion, our final concert features 2014 Gilmore Artist Rafal Blechacz in a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. The evening will conclude with the world premiere of the newly-commissioned Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by composer Michel Legrand, who will perform the work with the KSO, closing the Festival in memorable fashion!
A pre-concert talk by Raymond Harvey, Conductor of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, will be held from 7 to 7:45 PM in the Chenery Auditorium Reception Room preceding the concert. Free to ticket holders.
|BEETHOVEN||Leonore Overture No. 2, Op. 72|
|Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 19|
|LEGRAND||Concerto for Piano and Orchestra|
2014 Gilmore Artist Rafal Blechacz has been praised as “one of the pianistic giants of our time” (The Sunday Times). This Polish pianist has been recognized for his intelligent and expressive interpretations of Chopin’s works, his abundant virtuosity and profound musicianship have incited equal acclaim for his performances of works by an increasingly wide range of composers, from Bach to Szymanowski.
In 2005, Blechacz was named the uncontested winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition – the first Polish musician to win the competition in 30 years. He has performed in Europe, Japan and North America, building critical acclaim and a huge following among piano aficionados.
Tearing down the barriers between jazz, classical music and easy listening, Michel Legrand is at home in any musical situation. Michel Legrand was born in 1932 to a musical family in France. When he was ten, he entered the Paris Conservatory, which proved to be an unexpected revelation. “Until then, my childhood had been flat and unhappy,” he relates. “Suddenly, when I joined Lucette Descaves’ music theory class, I discovered a world that belonged to me, people who spoke my language. From then on, I felt that life had something exciting and motivating to offer.”
After studying under the iron rule of Nadia Boulanger, Henri Challan and Noël Gallon for several years, Legrand left the Conservatory with top honors in harmony, piano, fugue and counterpoint. He immediately gravitated to the world of song, working as an accompanist musical director to Maurice Chevalier. At 22, he released his instrumental LP I Love Paris and rose to the top of the US charts. He began composing music for the artists he accompanied and eventually began scoring films, beginning with Les Amants du Tage by Henri Verneuil. He became one of the most important composer of film scores throughout the era of French New Wave cinema, collaborating with Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, François Reichenbach, and Jacques Demy – his creative alter ego, with whom Legrand invented a new genre of film musical.
Legrand began dividing his time between France and Hollywood, building a composition repertoire with a filmography that included names like Orson Welles, Marcel Carné, Clint Eastwood, Norman Jewison, Louis Malle, Andrezej Wajda, Richard Lester and Claude Lelouch, to name a few. After three Oscar wins, he began to perform his songs himself. Legrand worked on his voice and focused in particular on building up a repertoire with two writers of his choice: Eddy Marnay ( Les Moulins de mon coeur, Quand on s’aime, Les enfants qui pleurent ) and Jean Dréjac ( Comme elle est longue à mourir majeunesse, Oum le Dauphin, L’été ’42 ). He subsequently had the chance to put music to lyrics by Jean-Loup Dubadie, Boris Bergman, Françoise Sagan and Jean Guidoni and, in 1981, he himself wrote the words for his album Attendre, which he also performed and composed.
After more than 50 years of composing, Legrand is more versatile than ever. He is currently completing his 80th Birthday Tour of the World, which has seen him perform concerts in Canada, USA, Oman, Russia, Armenia, UK, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Korea and Japan.