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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

The last major work of a genius gets its premiere by the Kalamazoo Symphony in 100th season celebration

Andre Previn
Lilian Birnbaum
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IMG Artists
Andre Previn

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra music director Julian Kuerti lays out Andre Previn's spectacular career in conducting, composing, piano performance and film in a conversation with Cara Lieurance on the eve of an historic event: at 7:30 pm on Saturday, June 4, he'll lead the KSO in the world premiere of Previn's last major work, the Concerto for Orchestra, written for the KSO's 100th birthday.

To conduct a new work for the first time can bring surprises, says Kuerti. One is how the music changes when it's played by the orchestra versus rehearsed in the conductor's mind. Kuerti has studied the score for over 3 years, but this week was his first chance to hear it played.

Kuerti says it's a strong, serious final statement from Previn. Previn acknowledges other works in the Concerto for Orchestra, like Bartok's groundbreaking 1945 work of the same name. Kuerti says it also quotes music from Previn's own Violin Concerto No. 1, which he wrote as a love letter to his future wife.

James Ehnes, a top-level violinist from Canada, will join the orchestra in Brahms' Violin Concerto No. 1 for the first half of the concert.

Cara Lieurance covers local music with live morning interviews, and produces WMUK's Let's Hear It weekday mornings at 10 am Mon-Fri, showcasing local interviews and performances. She also produces The Pure Drop, an hour of Celtic music, with musician Dave Marlatt.