Esteemed orchestras from Lithuania and Shanghai converge on Bangkok this autumn
During Bangkok’s 19th International Festival of Dance & Music, two remarkable orchestras will take the stage at the Thailand Cultural Centre – the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra on September 24 and October 14 the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, also on October 14.
Neither of these highly regarded orchestras has performed in Bangkok before, making this is a rare opportunity for local fans of the classics.
The Shanghai Philharmonic will be bringing acclaimed violinist Siqing Lu, one of China’s most in-demand musicians.
The first Asian to win the prestigious Paganini International Violin Competition in Italy, in 1987, Siqing has performed in more than 40 countries and shared the stage with many of the world’s leading musicians while collaborating with renowned orchestras.
With over 20 CDs and video recordings to his credit, Siqing is a talent not to be missed. His recording of “The Butterfly Lovers” concerto, the most famous Chinese violin work, sold better than a million copies worldwide.
Siqing has been honoured by the US Congress, the state of New Jersey and the California Senate and was Montblanc’s Outstanding Artist and among China Youth magazine’s “100 Most Influential Young People of 21st-century China”. The California city of Millbrae declared a “Siqing Lu Day” in 2006.
The programme is an intoxicating mix: “Overture to Candide” by Leonard Bernstein, “The Butterfly Lovers” Violin Concerto by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, and Symphony No 9 in E minor (“From the New World”) by Antonin Dvorak.
“Overture to Candide” from the Broadway musical based on Voltaire’s novella is a buoyant melange of some of the most memorable tunes from the show. “The Butterfly Lovers”, written in the traditional five-note (pentatonic) scale, uses Chinese melodies, chord structures and patterns, and yet remains strictly Western in spirit.
And, with his Ninth Symphony, Dvorak was taking a dramatic look back from the US to his native Bohemia.
One of the top five orchestras in China, the Shanghai Philharmonic is greatly admired and has collaborated with Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, YoYo Ma, Tamas Vasary and Boris Berman.
A regular at many international music festivals, it tours often and has performed Australia, Switzerland, Slovakia and Hungary, among many other places. It is partnered with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
In 2008 Liang Zhang was appointed its conductor, and he also serves as its deputy director. Liang, known for his precise and delicate conducting, will be leading the orchestra.
Named an Extraordinary Cultural Individual at the Fourth of May Youth Awards in China, Liang studied at the Shanghai Conservatory and has led the Vienna Ambassade, Vienna Webern and Macao orchestra and the Czech National Symphony.
He has collaborated with Peter Lukas Graf, Paul BaduraSkoda, Ryu Goto, Sumi Jo, Wolfgang Schulz, Lynn Harrell, Jerome Rose and Eduardus Halim. An esteemed pianist, he has given concerts in Germany, Austria, France, Mexico and Spain.
The Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra will on the evening of October 14 be presenting Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 in C sharp minor, Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite” and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No 4 in E minor, Opus 98.
Composer-conductor-pianist Balys Dvarionas founded the orchestra in 1940. The current artistic director and principal conductor is Modestas Pitrenas, who took over in 2015.
The orchestra gives around 50 concerts annually, from Europe to Japan and South Africa to South Korea. It has made its mark at demanding venues such as the Musikverein in Vienna, philharmonic halls in Cologne and Berlin, the Barbican Centre in London and Alte Oper in Frankfurt.
Pitrenas is the recipient of the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Prize and has served as principal conductor for the Latvian National Opera, Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, and Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted in Cologne, Helsinki, Warsaw and Moscow.
With more than 15 recordings of choral and symphonic music to his credit, Pitrenas is also a jury member in international competitions and still finds time to teach conducting at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.
Under his baton, Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody” is played with absolute mastery. Homage to Hungary using folk melodies, it is deeply passionate. It was arranged for orchestra by the flute virtuoso and composer Franz Doppler.
Next the LNSO tackles foremost Norwegian romantic composer Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite”, one of his most popular and striking compositions.
The evening ends with Brahms’ Symphony No 4, called one of his “most profound opuses” and filled with striking complexities.
The festival is supported by the Crown Property Bureau, Bangkok Bank, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, BMW Thailand, B Grimm Group, Dusit Thani Bangkok, Indorama Ventures, Ministry of Culture, Nation Group, PTT, Singha Corp, Thai Airways International and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
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