For its grand season finale, Symphony New Brunswick welcomes the triumphal return of Saint John native pianist Philip Thomson. From the sarcasm of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.2 in F major, to the exuberance of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.4, this program encapsulates a vast range of emotions. The concert will also feature a delightful Romance for Violin and Strings by Dvorak as well as Mendelssohn’s beloved Hebrides Overture. This concert will be conducted by principal conductor Michael Newnham.

 

There is no doubt that Shostakovich was a quintessential Russian composer. One can hear influences from all the major Russian music figures in his work, from Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky to Rachmaninoff. However, in the concerto medium, particularly in this Piano Concerto No.2, Shostakovich tended to move as far away from the Russian models as he could. Compared to the Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky piano concertos, it seems unfathomable to think that Shostakovich’s concerto belongs to the same genre. Shostakovich’s piece is thin in orchestration, rarely using the full spectrum of sound that we often hear in his Symphonies. Shostakovich juxtaposes playfulness and glee with strident, jarringly dissonant sections, highlighting his affinity for dry humor and sarcasm in his music.

 

Philip Thomson will be the pianist featured in this atypical Russian concerto. Originally from Saint John, he studied piano at the University of Toronto and at the Juilliard School. Currently on the piano faculty of the School of Music at the University of Akron, he is renowned internationally as a pianist, a Naxos recording artist, and a researcher. Besides his coast-to-coast Canadian concertizing, Mr. Thomson has also performed in the United States, England, Ireland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Italy, and China.

 

Also on the program will be Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.4, otherwise known as “Italian”.  It was written when Mendelssohn was only 21. After his parents encouraged him to see and learn from the wider world in order to become a well-rounded adult, Mendelssohn set out to “examine the various countries closely. He made the rounds of Venice, Rome, Naples and Milan. Whilst there, he composed this Symphony, and Mendelssohn wrote to his sister “It will be the jolliest piece I have ever done, especially the last movement”. It is an ebullient, joyous work, and is reflective of “the loveliest time of the year in Italy”.

This concert will be a wonderful way to end the season, with ample jubilant music to celebrate the arrival of summer.

“Keys to the Hometown” Concert details :

May 14 in Moncton at the Capitol Theatre at 7:30 pm

May 15 in Fredericton at the Playhouse at 7:30

May 16 in Saint John at the Imperial Theatre at 7:30

Pre-concert talks at 6:30

Concert tickets are available at the door or at the Box Offices in each city

Moncton, Capitol Theatre (506) 856-4379, capitol.nb.ca

Fredericton, The Playhouse (506) 458-8344, theplayhouse.ca

Saint John, Imperial Theatre (506) 647-4100, imperialtheatre.nb.