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Savannah Philharmonic Closes Season with “Brahms, Wagner & Strauss”

Savannah Morning News; DoSavannah
Written By: Joshua Peacock

Read original article here.

The Savannah Philharmonic will close out its sixth season with a program that features some of the most beautiful orchestral music written, highlighting the breadth of Savannah’s premier orchestra and the largest ensemble they’ve put together yet.

German composers have placed an indelible stamp on Western tonal music. From the three B’s (Bach, Brahms and Beethoven) to their contemporaries and those who followed, Deutschland helped formed the foundation of European and subsequently American music.

The Savannah Philharmonic will feature the work of three great German composers in one night, with a unique grouping of music you might not get anywhere else in this country.

“We wanted a piece that really showcases the orchestra in the finale,” said artistic director and conductor Peter Shannon. “It’s the largest orchestra we’ve had on stage since the inception.”

The finale will feature somewhere between 80 and 90 professional musicians. They’ve doubled the orchestra in most places, with more horns and an expanded woodwind section. Somewhere around 26 violins and 10 to 12 cellos will help make up the string section.

The night will open with “Piano Concerto No. 1” by the most wonderful Johannes Brahms. Joining the Philharmonic is an up-and-coming Israeli pianist working in the United States, whose resume already boasts work with some of America’s greatest orchestras.

The second half of the finale show has coupled two shorter pieces together that will showcase this grand orchestra with some absolutely stunning music. They will play the overture to Richard Wagner’s “Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen” and close with Richard Strauss’ “Rosenkavalier Suite” from the opera “Der Rosenkavalier.”

“Wagner overtures aren’t played too often in America,” Shannon said. “The Rienzi overture is rarely played in America and I don’t know why. It’s an incredible piece of music. The orchestra is really looking forward to this concert. There’s wonderful, wonderful moments for the strings in all the pieces. I think there’s going to be a lot of excitement on stage to show how good the orchestra is.”

Originally, the Savannah Philharmonic had scheduled German pianist Michael Hauber to play the finale show. However, due to some issues with his Visa — through no fault of his own or the Philharmonic — he was unable to make the performance.

Through connections in the world of classical music, Shannon was able to secure Alon Goldstein for the finale. Goldstein is a relatively young pianist who has already played with the Israel, London, Radio France and Los Angeles philharmonic orchestras, as well as the Philadelphia, San Francisco, Baltimore, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston and Vancouver symphonies.

“This guy’s career is really skyrocketing,” Shannon said of Goldstein. “All the stars kind of aligned in this unfortunate event.”

After six seasons, the Savannah Philharmonic has grown exponentially and is now receiving national attention. A reluctant beginning has given way to several years of growth. The budget has improved from $400,000 to $1.3 million and subscriptions have tripled, according to Shannon.

This past year, they joined Savannah VOICE Festival to premiere the first opera at the annual event. Just this month, they were featured in the spring issue of Symphony magazine (a publication for the League of American Orchestras) as one of the rising orchestras in the nation.

“The narrative around the country is that audiences are getting older and they are starting to fade,” Shannon said. “The orchestras are not able to connect in their community. They are not connecting with outreach, and education programs aren’t having any traction in the community and audiences are dwindling. What is all this due to?

“The opposite is the case in Savannah and that is what it’s getting national attention.”