One of the today’s leading pianists, Stephen Hough has played in concert halls all over the world and has been a West Michigan audience favorite through the years. Hough makes his fourth appearance with the Grand Rapids Symphony in two performances, Friday, Feb. 1 and Saturday, Feb. 2, at 8:00 p.m. in DeVos Performance Hall. Music Director David Lockington leads the concert, titled “Hough Plays Liszt,” which pairs Liszt’s skillfully composed second piano concerto and the powerful seventh symphony from Bruckner. These concerts are part of the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series.
The program showcases core orchestral works from the “new music” movement of the 19th century. “It’s a wonderful pairing,” said Lockington. “The 19th century is all about the explosion of sonority, the explosion of emotion, the breaking up of old forms.”
Lockington added that the program reflects very opposite musical personalities within the same 19th century movement. “Liszt so fiery and virtuosic, and Bruckner so stayed and studied. But I think the two pieces together will be a great foil for each other.”
The concert begins with a performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2. As a virtuosic pianist and dynamic performer, Liszt often inspired hysterical reactions from his audience. Concertgoers, overtaken by “Lisztomania,” would swarm the stage as they tried to steal Liszt’s personal belongings. Adored by fans and occasionally criticized by his fellow composers, Liszt’s compositions are challenging and exciting. Liszt’s second piano concerto features a simple melody that goes on an “adventure,” transforming from major to minor, quiet to loud, and lyrical to forceful. Pianist Stephen Hough will lend his unique interpretation to this technically demanding work.
“Stephen Hough is perhaps my favorite pianist in the world,” said Lockington. “I am just delighted that he feels a certain loyalty or allegiance to Grand Rapids. He comes here regularly, and he enjoys coming here, fitting us in between all his high-powered dates everywhere else.”
Bruckner was a composer that faced mixed reactions from his peers. Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 was the first of his symphonies to receive unanimous public acclaim. Greatly inspired by Wagner, many believe Symphony No. 7 is Bruckner’s tribute to the late maestro.
“Bruckner’s seventh symphony has sort of gotten under my skin,” said Lockington. “There is grandeur to his music that will be great for the orchestra to play and I think for the audience to listen to as well.”
Tickets start at $18 and are available at the Symphony office, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 300 Ottawa NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder), or by calling 616/454-9451, Ext. 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.) Tickets are available at the DeVos Place Box Office, weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster, 800/982-2787, online at www.grsymphony.org, or in person at Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Stores and Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster service fee. This is a Student Passport concert.
About Stephen Hough
Named by The Economist as one of 20 Living Polymaths, British pianist Stephen Hough is a rare renaissance man of our time. Over the course of a long and distinguished career as one of the world’s leading concert pianists, he has also excelled as a writer and composer. Hough’s compositions include chamber, choral, symphonic, instrumental and solo piano works. As a writer, he has had pieces published in London’s “The Guardian” and “The Times.” Currently a resident of London, Hough is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester. Hough has received numerous awards and accolades; in 2001 Hough became the first classical performing artist to win a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He was awarded the 2008 Northwestern University’s Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano and went on to win the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award in 2010. He has appeared with almost all the major European and American orchestras and plays recitals regularly in halls and concert series around the world. Hough boasts a discography of more than fifty recordings.
About the Grand Rapids Symphony
The Grammy-nominated Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. Led by Music Director David Lockington, nine concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are presented each year, touching the lives of some 170,000. Nearly half of those who benefit are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities reached through extensive education and community service programs. The Symphony sponsors the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses, and also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit www.grsymphony.org.
These concerts are made possible with support from the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.