Two Rising Stars Join Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky Concertos, July 10 and 17
15-year-olds Sirena Huang and Conrad Tao make BSO debuts
Baltimore, Md -- Two gifted young soloists—violinist Sirena Huang and pianist Conrad Tao—both only 15 years old, will make their BSO debuts on Saturday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, July 17 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore.
Led by conductor and BSO Assistant Principal Viola Christian Colberg, this all-Tchaikovsky program opens with the composer’s summer fantasia, Capriccio italien, and features these young performers in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Piano Concerto No. 1.
Internationally renowned British violinist Vanessa-Mae described Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto as a “complex mixture of dynamic orchestral fireworks.” In 1878, Tchaikovsky struggled to find a soloist who could keep up with his rapid scale passages and treacherous double-stops. Violinist Sirena Huang will take on Tchaikovsky’s challenge. "Her musical imagination is boundless," said Juilliard Dean Stephen Clapp, who described her as "a musical artist with qualities of maturity far beyond her age."
Piano Concerto No. 1 was met with harsh criticism in 1847 from the Director of the Moscow Conservatory, Nicholi Rubinstein. Tchaikovsky performed this piece for him, hoping to hear criticism about the mechanical details. Instead, Rubinstein gave him a lot more than he bargained for. He kept quiet throughout the entire concerto and when Tchaikovsky finished, he seemed disgusted with what he had just heard. Rubinstein described the piece as “trivial and vulgar.” Tchaikovsky was enraged but he made no changes to his original piece. This risk has led Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto to be internationally acclaimed and widely popular. Pianist Conrad Tao, who will perform Tchaikovsky’s concerto, has been deemed a prodigy and been commended on “his onstage demeanor,” described as “refreshingly free of willful tempo changes, distracting theatrical gestures and other prodigy personality excesses” (Barbara Jepson, The Wall Street Journal). According to critic James Bash from Northwest Reverb, Tao has “never overstated his playing” and yet he can still “keep the audience fully engaged.”
Sirena Huang, violin
Sirena Huang earned the first prize gold medal of the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in 2009. She is a scholarship student studying with Stephen Clapp and Sylvia Rosenberg at The Juilliard School Pre-College division. She began her violin lessons at age 4 years old with Mrs. Linda Fiore at the Hartt School. She made her orchestra solo debut with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra at age 9. Three weeks later, she played with the internationally acclaimed Staatskapelle Weimar in Germany. Other orchestra solo performances include The Russian Symphony Orchestra, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, Greenwich Symphony Orchestra, Park Avenue Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Sinfonia, Long Island Philharmonic, Roanoke Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in New Jersey, The Juilliard Pre-College Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Blaeu Amsterdam and Modus Chamber Ensemble in New York City. She has been invited as a guest soloist at the Aspen Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival and also has given solo recitals in the Simsbury Chamber Music Festival and Usdan Center Concert Series. In addition, she has appeared regularly in “The Great Music for a Great City” series in New York City. Her concerts have been held at major venues such as Lincoln Center, Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, Tilles Center, Kimmel Center and National Concert Hall (Taiwan). In March 2005, she played her solo recital at Bushnell Center to benefit “Fund for Access,” a scholarship program that assists children from low-income families to pursue music study.
Conrad Tao, piano
Hailed by renowned music critic Harris Goldsmith as "the most exciting prodigy to ever come my way" (Musical America), 15-year-old American pianist Conrad Tao was found playing children’s songs on the piano at about 18 months old. He was born in Urbana, Illinois, starting violin lessons at age 3 and formal piano lessons at 3 ˝. He gave his first piano recital at age 4 and at age 8, he made his concerto debut with the Utah Chamber Music Festival Orchestra performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A Major, K. 414. At age 10, Conrad was featured on the national radio program “From the Top” as both pianist and composer, and in 2007 he was featured again on PBS’s “From the Top?Live from Carnegie Hall” TV series as violinist, pianist and composer. His 2006 recital at Juilliard’s Paul Hall has been featured on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.” He was the winner of Juilliard Pre-College’s Gina Bachauer Piano Competition and the Prokofiev Concerto Competition in 2006. In 2008, he was named a Davidson Fellow Laureate by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, commending his efforts to make classical music relevant to the current generation.
Tickets range from $19 to $55 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000, 877.BSO.1444 or BSOmusic.org.