North Carolina Symphony Music Director Grant Llewellyn leads the orchestra and featured pianist Clara Yang in "Rhapsody in Blue" in a special Sunday concert during this summer's Rex Healthcare Summerfest Series.
The outdoor concert takes place at Cary's Booth Amphitheatre on Sunday, June 3 at 7:00 p.m. Headlining the program is George Gershwin's jazz-infused masterpiece for piano and orchestra, Rhapsody in Blue, featuring rising star and UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member Clara Yang.
Praised by Peninsula Reviews for her "superb technique and extraordinary musical understanding," Yang has performed in Carnegie Hall and venues across the United States, Netherlands and Australia. She earned first prizes at the Eastman Rachmaninoff Concerto Competition, American Protégé International Competition, San Jose Beethoven Competition and San Francisco Chopin Competition, among others.
Yang joins the Symphony for one of the absolute pinnacles of American music. Premiered in 1924 when Gershwin was just 26-years-old, on a concert program billed as an "Experiment in Modern Music," Rhapsody in Blue was immediately hailed as a breakthrough. In conductor Walter Damrosch's words, Gershwin "made a lady out of jazz," putting a vibrant, quintessentially American stamp on classical music orchestration. The work achieved and still maintains a wide-ranging popularity virtually unmatched by any other American composition.
"I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America," Gershwin said of his writing process, "of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness."
Rhapsody in Blue is not the only taste of Americana in store for Summerfest concertgoers. Audience members will enjoy selections by American composers Leonard Bernstein, Scott Joplin, Percy Grainger and the Symphony's own bass trombone, Morehead City-native Terry Mizesko. They will have the chance to show off their own musical skills with a sing-along to the North Carolina state song, "The Old North State."
These favorites are featured alongside orchestral powerhouses in Johann Strauss's irresistible Accelerations Waltz and the enchanting Largo from Antonín Dvo?ák's "New World" Symphony.
The Symphony's performance of the immensely popular "New World" Symphony in February 2012 was hailed as an "unforgettable" presentation by "THE cultural treasure of our state," in Classical Voice North Carolina. "The Largo was taken very slowly, as slowly as possible, perhaps, and the result was absolutely sublime – a vast and moving expanse, a deep spiritual journey."
The program will be performed without intermission and conclude before 9:00 p.m.
"Rhapsody in Blue" will also be performed on Saturday, June 2 at New Bern's historic Tryon Palace. Complete details on the Symphony's summer "Concerts in Your Community" and its upcoming 80th Anniversary Season can be found online at www.ncsymphony.org.