National Philharmonic Performs Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 With Award-Winning Chinese Pianist Haochen Zhang And Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major Both Conducted by Renowned Maestro Piotr Gajewski
Bethesda, MD (January 3, 2017)—The National Philharmonic’s 2016-2017 season at The Music Center at Strathmore continues on the Chinese New Year with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Chinese gold medal pianist Haochen Zhang and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major. Both will be led by Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski. Zhang and Gajewski are both former child prodigies. Since his gold medal win at the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the 26-year-old pianist has captivated audiences in the United States, Europe and Asia, with a unique combination of deep musical sensitivity, fearless imagination and spectacular virtuosity. The double performance will be held Saturday, January 28 at 8 pm. and Sunday, January 29 at 3 pm in the Concert Hall. There will be an audience question and answer session with Zhang and Gajewski after each performance. Ticket prices are $23-$78 and are free for children age 7-17. Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call 301.760.4403
Zhang performed Bach’s two-part inventions at the Shanghai Music Hall at the age of 5, became the youngest and first Chinese competitor to win the gold medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009. Gajewski also began his musical career by playing piano at the age of 4 and by the age of 14, he was conducting orchestras. At the age of 17, he conducted RimskyKorsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“Back then, I thought that young performers could just get by on talent, but soon I realized that hard work and dedication is much more important in building a career,” said Gajewski. “Zhang brings all of these qualities to his playing and I am pleased to be able to present him with the Philharmonic at Strathmore. I very much look forward to working with him again.”
A popular guest soloist for many orchestras in his native China, Zhang made his debut in Munich with the Munich Philharmonic and the late maestro Lorin Maazel in 2013. He has also toured in China with the Sydney Symphony and David Robertson, in Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai with the NDR Hamburg.
The 2015 Washington Post review of Zhang’s earlier performance with the National Philharmonic included, “Zhang’s dazzling playing is without gimmick or ostentation. His imagination is what keeps you on the edge of your seat and breathless to hear what comes next.”
Gajewski is one of a select group of American conductors equally at home in nearly all musical genres. He is the Music Director & Conductor of the National Philharmonicat the Music Center at Strathmore and a sought after guest conductor (the Principal Guest Conductor of the Silesian Philharmonic (Katowice, Poland). He was a student and disciple of the late Leonard Bernstein, and is described by The Washington Post as an “immensely talented and insightful conductor, whose standards, taste and sensitivity are impeccable.”
Few openings in the piano concerto repertoire can equal the mounting tension at the beginning of Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto, a piece that established the composer’s fame. Often described as the greatest piano concerto ever written, the piece is known for its beauty and complexity. Rachmaninoff finished the piece is 1901, and it is credited for saving his career, which had earlier suffered at the failed attempt of his Concerto No. 1.
Inspired by the countryside in which he wrote it, Dvořák’s G Major Symphony is his most bucolic, and differs from many of his other works in its tone. Remarkably, the composition took less than a month to write, and the orchestration took only another six weeks.
Russian-born Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) is one of the most famous Romantic composers of the 20th century. By the time he had graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1892, Rachmaninoff had already composed piano and orchestral pieces. Rachmaninoff and his family left Russia after the revolution, settling in New York City, where he performed until his California retirement in 1943.
Bohemian composer Dvořák (1841-1904) is credited for turning folk material into what would soon become the Romantic movement. Born north of Prague to a butcher’s family, he spent his early years studying harmony, piano and organ, and writing polkas. Inspired by famous musicians Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert and, later, Richard Wagner, Dvořák eventually took his music throughout Europe and the United States, befriending and working with contemporary musicians Johannes Brahms and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Led by Maestro Gajewski, the National Philharmonic is known for performances that are “powerful,” “impeccable,” and “thrilling” (The Washington Post). In July 2003, the National Chamber Orchestra and Masterworks Chorus merged to create the National Philharmonic, an ensemble with more than 50 years of combined history, bringing high caliber musical performances to the Washington area. The National Philharmonic took up residence at the stateof-the-art Music Center at Strathmore upon its opening in February 2005. Now, more than 250 performances later, and with far-reaching educational programming, the National Philharmonic is the largest and most active professional orchestra based in Montgomery County.
The National Philharmonic boasts a long-standing tradition of reasonably priced tickets and free admission to all young people age 7-17, assuring its place as an accessible and enriching component in Montgomery County and the greater Washington, D.C., area. As the Music Center at Strathmore’s orchestra-in-residence, the National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists in time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Gajewski, with additional conducting by Associate Conductor Victoria Gau, and monumental choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson.
To purchase tickets for the performances and for a complete schedule, please visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org or call the Strathmore Ticket Office at 301.581-5100. Tickets are $23-$78; young people 7-17 are free through the ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME program. ALL KIDS tickets must be purchased in person or by phone. Complimentary parking is available.