WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (JANUARY 31, 2019) – The Winston-Salem Symphony’s 2018–2019 season promises to be thrilling as five brilliant conductors vie for the role of Music Director. On Sunday, March 3 and Tuesday, March 5, 2019, George Jackson, a dynamic, young conductor from London, will lead the symphony in György Ligeti’s jovial Concert Românesc (Romanian Concerto), Antonin Dvořák’s spectacular Symphony No. 8 in G Major, op. 88, B. 163, as well as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s majestic Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503 featuring exciting guest pianist Clara Yang. Jackson, whose conducting has been described as “enthralling from first bar to last,” rocked the international scene recently after stepping in on short notice with both the London Symphony and the Orchestre de Paris.
“Our thrilling “American Idol™”-like, season-long search for your Winston-Salem Symphony’s next Music Director continues on with a bit of a British invasion,” said E. Merritt Vale, Winston-Salem Symphony President & CEO. “Our final two candidates hale from England. The first of the two remaining conductors is George Jackson and we hope everyone will take advantage of the many opportunities to interact with him during his visit to Winston-Salem. And, of course, come see him on the podium! We really want your feedback. It will be invaluable in helping us make a well-informed decision about your next Music Director. You can find out more about all the ways to meet the candidates on our website and on Facebook.”
Under the baton of Jackson, the concerts will take place on Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m. and Tuesday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Stevens Center of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, 405 West Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem. Tickets begin at $20 and are available in advance by calling the Symphony Box Office at 336-464-0145 or online at WSsymphony.org.
Music Lovers’ Luncheon, a fun and informative pre-concert event, will occur the Friday before each 2018–2019 Classics Concert and will give attendees a chance to get to know the five Music Director finalists and the renowned guest artists. The Music Lovers’ Luncheons will take place at Forsyth Country Club at 3101 Country Club Road in Winston-Salem. The next luncheon is Friday, March 1 from 12–1:30 p.m. This intimate afternoon event will include an enlightening discussion led by Music Director candidate George Jackson and guest pianist Clara Yang. Music Lovers’ Luncheons are an opportunity to gain insights on the music presented and learn more about the performers personally. Advanced registration is required and can be made by calling 336.464.0145. The luncheon is $25 per person.
There will be two other opportunities to interact with Jackson outside the concert hall. On Monday, March 4 at 5:30 p.m. enjoy a Happy Hour at the Katharine Brasserie and Bar at 401 N Main Street in downtown Winston-Salem. This will be a fun mix and mingle with Jackson and other guests. Attendees’ first house wine or beer is complimentary. On Tuesday, March 5 at 10 a.m., Jackson will be at Coffee & Conversations at Footnote, which is located at 634 W 4th Street, Suite 120, in downtown Winston-Salem. Attendees can enjoy a cup of coffee (the first cup is on the Symphony) and lighthearted interaction with Jackson.
For their Classics Concert series, each Music Director candidate was assigned two main pieces to conduct and given the opportunity to pick an overture of their choice. Jackson opted to open the concert series with Concert Românesc (Romanian Concerto), by György Ligeti. Although perhaps not a household name, Ligeti’s music will be familiar to those who have seen Stanley Kubrick’s films 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Concert Românesc was composed in 1951–1952 but was not performed until 1971. Like the music of Dvořák, Concert Românesc references folk-like elements from Eastern Europe. In addition, like both the other pieces on the program (Dvořák and Mozart), this piece makes great use of the horn section. Joyful and energetic, Ligeti’s piece will be a lively and upbeat opening to this concert.
The concert continues with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, which will highlight the artistry of guest artist Clara Yang. Majestic and thrilling, this concert offers many opportunities for Yang to shine. Among Mozart’s piano concertos, this one stands out as being especially noble in character and vast in its symphonic scope due to heavier than usual orchestration. The opening movement sets the tone with a sense of formality and grandeur.
Closing out this concert series is Dvořák’s spectacular Symphony No. 8 in G Major, one of the Czech master’s most popular pieces. Lyrical and intricate, this remarkable piece is both moving and exuberant. Composed in 1889, this symphony (as well as his seventh and ninth symphonies), was written at a time when the composer felt fully free to integrate folk idiom into the structural rigors of symphonic composition.
Winner of the 2015 Aspen Conducting Prize, London-born conductor George Jackson came to international attention after stepping in at short notice with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducting the Austrian premiere of Michael Jarrell’s Ombres. Jackson has conducted, among others, the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, the Haydn Orchestra di Bolzano e Trento, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2010, Jackson founded the Vienna-based Speculum Musicae Opera Company, conducting new productions of Pergolesi La serva padrona and Charpentier David et Jonathas. Jackson participated in international master classes, where his teachers included Bernard Haitink, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kurt Masur, and David Robertson. An alumnus of the conservatories of Vienna, Weimar, and Trinity College Dublin, George furthered his studies at the Lucerne Festival Academy, Dartington Festival, Bayreuth Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival.
Praised by Fanfare as “a first-rate pianist who isn’t afraid of challenges,” Chinese-American pianist Clara Yang has performed in notable venues such as Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing), Remonstrantse Kerk (The Netherlands), the Seymour Centre (Sydney, Australia), the Barclay Theater (Irvine, California), Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theater (Rochester, New York), the Sunset Center (Carmel, California), Memorial Hall (Chapel Hill, North Carolina), Meymandi Concert Hall (Raleigh, North Carolina), and in series such as Carolina Performing Arts, Dame Myra Hess (Chicago Cultural Center), and Mas i Mas at the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain). She is currently Associate Professor of Piano at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Besides performing the traditional repertoire, Yang is also an avid contemporary and new music interpreter. The distinguished composer Chen Yi composed the piano concerto Four Spirits for her in 2016. Yang performed the U.S. premiere of the concerto with the distinguished conductor Maestro Long Yu leading the China Philharmonic Orchestra December 2016. She performed the world premiere of this work with Maestro Huang Yi conducting the China Philharmonic in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. In addition, she performed Phillip Glass’s etudes along with the composer himself, Timo Andres, and other renowned artists in the Glass at 80 festival in 2017. Yang received her D.M.A. in piano performance at the Eastman School of Music. She studied with Claude Frank at the Yale School of Music (M.M., Artist Diploma) and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California. For full artist biographies, please visit WSsymphony.org.
This concert and the Winston-Salem Symphony are sponsored by Season Presenting Sponsors Bell, Davis, & Pitt, P.A. and BB&T; Music Director Search Presenting Sponsor Mrs. Charles M. Howell; Music Director Candidate Sponsor Arbor Acres; Hospitality Sponsor Leonard Ryden Burr; Classics Media Sponsors Fox 8 WGHP and 89.9 FM WDAV Classical Public Radio; as well as the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and the North Carolina Arts Council.
About the Winston-Salem Symphony
The Winston-Salem Symphony, one of the Southeast’s most highly regarded regional orchestras, began its 72nd season in October 2018. The season will include performances featuring the five finalists for the Music Director position. Each candidate will conduct a pair of Classics Series concerts, and attendees will have a chance to play a role in the selection process. In addition, the 2018–2019 season will include a Plugged-In Pops series, Discovery Concerts for Kids series, an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah, the Concert for Community featuring Winston-Salem Symphony and Youth Symphony musicians, holiday concerts, three youth orchestra ensembles, and a multitude of educational and community engagement programs, including the newest offering, the P.L.A.Y. (Piedmont Learning Academy for Youth) Music program providing, primarily to under-served youth, instrumental music instruction and more. The Symphony is supported by Season Presenting Sponsors BB&T and Bell, Davis & Pitt, P.A., as well as generous funding from the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, the North Carolina Arts Council, and other dedicated sponsors. For more information, visit WSsymphony.org.
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