Acclaimed pianist Awadagin Pratt will join the 2014 American Prize-winning Valdosta Symphony Orchestra (VSO) for Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58, on Saturday, Nov. 15. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.
“There are several members of the VSO who have previously performed with Awadagin Pratt, and they all raved about what a fantastic musician he is,” noted Dr. Howard Hsu, conductor and VSO music director. “Back when a conducting career was a distant dream of mine and I was working in public relations, I had an assignment to send press releases promoting a recital by a hot newcomer in the classical world …. I’ve known Mr. Pratt since that moment and am thrilled that I will soon get to perform with him.”
Praised for his musical insight and intensely involving performances in recital and with symphony orchestras, the Pittsburgh, Pa.-born Pratt began studying piano at the age of 6; he picked up the violin three years later after his family moved to Normal, Ill. At the age of 16 he entered the University of Illinois where he studied piano, violin, and conducting. He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he became the first student in the school’s history to receive diplomas in three performance areas. He received the 2008 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Johns Hopkins University. He won the prestigious Walter W. Naumburg Foundation Inc. International Piano Competition in 1992 and was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant two years later.
Pratt has played numerous recitals throughout the United States, including performances at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif., and Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Ill. His many orchestral performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic and Minnesota Orchestra, as well as the Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, National, Detroit and New Jersey symphonies, among others. He has conducted the National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center; the Toledo, New Mexico, Vancouver, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe, and Prince George County symphonies; and the Northwest Sinfonietta, the Concertante di Chicago, and several orchestras in Japan. He has toured Japan four times and performed in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Isreal, Colombia, and South Africa.
Pratt is a favorite on college and university campuses and considered a strong advocate of music education; he typically participates in residency and outreach activities wherever he appears. He is also a preferred performer, conductor, and instructor at summer festivals across the country and abroad. He was one of four artists selected to perform at a November 2009 White House classical music event that included student workshops hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama; he also performed two times at the White House during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
A Yamaha artist, Pratt is currently professor of piano and chairman of the Piano Department at the College Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. He is also the artistic director of the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati, as well as the artistic director of the Art of the Piano Festival at CCM.
Saturday’s concert, themed “Majestic Mastery,” marks the VSO’s second of the 2014-2015 season. The program lineup also features Beethoven’s “Fidelio” Overture, Op. 72c, and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, Op. 38 in B-flat Major, “Spring.”
Hsu first studied and rehearsed the Schumann piece when he was a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, pursuing a Master of Music (M.M.) degree. His classmate conducted the Beethoven overture.
“My teacher admitted that he was a little jealous watching me learn the Schumann for the first time,” he recalled. “He called this beautiful work a ‘young man’s symphony,’ and I think it captures the intoxicating sensation of being in love. Schumann’s music has the knack of going straight to the listener’s heart.”
Tickets for Saturday’s performance, which is sponsored by Stifel Nicolaus, are $27 for adults and $10 for students. Senior, military, and VSU faculty and staff discounts are available. The concert will be held in Valdosta State University’s Whitehead Auditorium, which is located on the first floor of the Fine Arts Building at the intersection of Oak Street and Brookwood Drive.
Visit www.valdostasymphony.org or contact Sarah Alexander with VSU’s College of Arts Outreach Office at (229) 333-2150 or firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve tickets or learn more. Tickets are also available at the Box Office before each event.
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About the VSO:
Created in 1990, the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra serves both the cultural life of Valdosta and the regional academic mission of Valdosta State University. The high standard of performance of the orchestra enables it to attract guest soloists of national and international renown to the Valdosta community. The orchestra’s membership is a unique blend of resident artist-faculty, students studying professional music disciplines, talented community performers, and carefully selected professionals from a five-state region. Supported by an Advisory Board of Directors, the Valdosta Symphony Guild, Valdosta State University, corporate sponsors, and hundreds of individual patrons, the orchestra has become an important part of the cultural life of the entire region.
Jessica R. Pope