Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Heather Cowper, all creative commons / heatheronhertravels.com

Gustav Mahler famously said, "A symphony should be like the world. It must contain everything." As it turns out, most musicians crave the chance to return to Mahler's world-building music. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Julian Kuerti, the music director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, introduces listeners to Das Lied von der Erde, or "The Song of the Earth."


Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra resident conductor Daniel Brier and Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus director Chris Ludwa join Cara Lieurance to preview Sounds of the Season, the symphony's annual holiday concert, which will be held at 8 pm Friday, Dec 13 at Chenery Auditorium. Brier and Ludwa talk about their two groups teaming up to perform part 1 of Johann Sebastian Bach's  Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, a joyous work which includes three soloists, chorus, and orchestra. 

After the oratorio, the program becomes a variety pack of holiday music and special guests, including the 2019 KSO Youth Soloist competition winner, Alyssa Waswick. The alto saxophonist will be featured in a movement of Glazunov's Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Strings. The Kalamazoo Children's Chorus will join the orchestra for carols like Little Drummer Boy and maestro Kuerti's own arrangement of Coventry Carol. 


Ludwig van Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony is a testament to hope and personal expression, yet he wrote it at the worst time of the composer's life, says conductor Julian Kuerti, who will conduct the symphony at 8 pm on Saturday, Nov 23 in Chenery Auditorium. Joining Kuerti in an interview with Cara Lieurance are soloists Jun-Ching Lin, the KSO's principal violinist/concertmaster, and Igor Cetkovic, KSO principal cellist, who will perform the Concerto for Violin and Cello, "Double," by Johannes Brahms. Cetkovic says their solo parts seem equal to each other, like two friends having a conversation. The third work on the program, Oliver Knussen's Music for a Puppet Court, is a piece that will delight puzzle lovers - a reference that will be explained by Kuerti during the concert.


courtesy of the artist

Kevin Cole is a friend of a friend of George Gershwin. Several friends, in fact. Prior to his appearance with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Cole tells Cara Lieurance that as a teenager growing up in Bay City, Michigan, he introduced himself to Gershwin's friend and biographer, Edward Jablonski.

Viktor Hartmann

Music director Julian Kuerti and soloist Leticia Moreno, a Spanish violinist, join Cara Lieurance to talk about how three different composers (and one orchestrator) put vivid, personal touches in their music to evoke images and stories. The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra will open its 2019-2020 season with Gunther Schuller's 7 Studies on Themes of Paul Klee, Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2, and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, which was orchestrated by Maurice Ravel in 1933.

In the case of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2, Moreno says the composer was already thinking in the sound-world of his ballet Romeo & Juliet when he was writing this work. She puts herself in a mind-set that brings back her first memories of performing the concerto, as well as young Juliet's passion, when she plays this piece.

Kuerti made a choice to give the musicians of the KSO a chance to show their virtuosity in Schuller's specific, modernist music that can sometimes swing. He says Pictures is fascinating in its original piano version, but as an orchestral showpiece, it excels at extremes.

The concert begins at 8 pm on Friday, Sep 20, at Miller Auditorium. A Prelude talk begins at 7 pm, and the audience is invited to AfterWords, a post-concert visit with the maestro and soloist in the mezzanine.


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