The Gilmore

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

Rafal Blechacz

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.

Michel Legrand

Michel Legrand

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.

  • How did you enjoy the concert? What are your thoughts on Michel Legrand’s new composition? Share your thoughts!

    • Norman Carlson

      I liked the first movement especially; hope it becomes part of the standard orchestral repertoire.

  • Charles McNinch

    For some reason (getting too old I guess) I misread the date of the concert and thought it was Sunday night. I bought the tickets for my wife’s birthday (which is Monday). This morning I surprised her with breakfast out, where, over coffee I made the announcement that her gift this year would be going to hear M. Legrand introduce a new piece of music at the finale of the Gilmore this evening. Ha! Imagine my surprise when she politely informed me that the final concert was last night. “Maybe you better let me make the on-line purchases from now on” – she said to ease my chagrin.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that, Charles! What a thoughtful gift!

  • Denise Clegg

    The festival finale was wonderful. We had seen Rafal Blechacz bring a piece to life at his Master Class when he played a piece that a student played just moments before turning it into a winding path, a musical adventure. I felt that Rafal played the finale selection very well, however I felt that another piece may have displayed his talent better.

    Michel Legrand was wonderful! I felt like I was flying in the clouds with angels one moment, in the middle of a science fiction experiment the next. It literally carried me away to a new world. Bravo! Monsieur Legrand, you’ve created a modern masterpiece. Thank you.

    • Beautifully written comment. Thank you, Denise!

  • Anne Petersen

    We and especially our guests enjoyed the concert enormously! Great finale to a spectacular Gilmore Festival!

  • Helen McCauslin

    Thank you for the most grand finale and all that went before!
    Please bring Rafal back again soon. We need to hear more of his sensitivity and grace on the piano.

  • Marijke Guerin

    Was it my imagination or was the quality of the Gilmore 2016 higher than in the past? We have thoroughly enjoyed the performances we attended. Outstanding memories from the recitals by Yefim Bronfman and Daniel Hsu (there’s someone to watch!) fun with Anderson and Roe and of course the finale. Many more exciting and worthwhile events. Can’t wait for the next one!

    • We certainly strive to raise the bar higher each Festival. Thank you, Marijke!

  • Frank Silva

    Congratulations to Maria Schneider on another successful Festival! I don’t think people realize how instrumental you in creating a the smooth running and spectacular two and a half weeks of concerts!