Symphony celebrates 20th year
Three-week series highlighted by Midori
By ADAM TANOUS
Express Arts Editor
To see the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in
its present glory—with 111 world-class musicians, throngs of music lovers under
an enormous and acoustically modified symphony tent on the Sun Valley
Esplanade—it is hard to even imagine the symphony in its infancy 20 years ago.
That is when Carl Eberl, professor emeritus of Queens College of the City
University of New York, founded the Elkhorn Music Festival with 20 musicians.
Celebrating his 80th birthday this year,
Eberl will return to conduct "It Happened in Sun Valley" during the opening
night concert 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1.
And what a homecoming it will be, with
performances by violinists Midori and Leila Josefowicz, tenor Anthony Dean
Griffey and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet throughout the 11-concert series.
For chamber music enthusiasts, the Edgar
M. Bronfman three-concert series that runs prior to the regular season,
continues tonight with works by Brahms and Shostakovich. Jeremy Constant, Paul
Brancato, Christina King and Steven Honigberg will perform Brahms’ String
Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51, No. 1. Constant, Honigberg and Kathryn Brake will
play Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67.
The chamber group will tackle Danielpour’s
A Child’s Reliquary for Piano Trio and Beethoven’s String Quartet in F Major on
Friday, July 30. All concerts are at 6:30 p.m.
Returning for his 10th year to conduct the
regular symphony season is Alasdair Neale, music director of the Marin Symphony
and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Orchestra.
And Neale, according to Jaci Wilkins,
executive director of the SVSS, is one of the main reasons the symphony has
enjoyed so much success.
"The symphony really does get better every
year. The principals in each chair are principals in major symphonies across the
country. Alasdair, with his network and connections brings in such high caliber
What few people likely realize about the
symphony is that each performance is done with one rehearsal.
"Alasdair is unique in being able to do
everything with just one rehearsal. Not every conductor can pull that off. He
has a unique rapport with musicians," Wilkins said.
Generally Neale sets the musical program
in December. The artists are invited around the beginning of the year—a process
that is more complicated than it sounds. With the high caliber of musicians
comes a logistical puzzle in working around all of their schedules. And for
musicians who are in such high demand—like Midori—the planning starts a year or
two before they are scheduled to perform.
What also sets the SVSS off from virtually
every other top-notch symphony is the fact that all of its concerts are offered
free of charge. Given the caliber and size of the orchestra, that is no small
Wilkins attributes this to two factors.
"Without the generosity of our donors or our housing hosts (musicians stay in
private homes during the concert season), we could never do this."
Included in the series this year are 11
full concerts, a gala benefit scheduled for Aug. 4 and a family festival Aug.
6—a daylong event featuring children’s activities and performances by students
of the Sun Valley Summer Music Workshops.
Following opening night, Neale will
conduct soloist Leila Josefowicz Monday, Aug. 2. The works on tap for that
concert are Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Beethoven’s Concerto in D
Major for Violin.
Other highlights of the three-week series
include Americana Night at the Pops Aug. 9, soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet on Aug.
10 and the finale concert Aug. 16 when the orchestra will perform the
notoriously difficult Mahler Symphony No. 1 in D Major.
For this last concert, Wilkins relayed
that Neale conceded they would actually need two rehearsals.