Posted: January 13, 2014

JoelFan4On Saturday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center, the Helena Symphony Orchestra continues the 2013-2104 Season with internationally acclaimed Pianist Joel Fan performing two immense works.  Hailed by The New York Times, Mr. Fan made his debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 11.  After attending the Juilliard School, Harvard University, and the Peabody Conservatory, Mr. Fan was named a Presidential Scholar by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.  In addition to his appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Mr. Fan has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, and Singapore Symphony.  Most notably, he has collaborated with legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma with the Baltimore Symphony, and Mr. Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble in performances at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and on the television shows, Good Morning America and Late Night with David Letterman.

The Boston Globe declared Mr. Fan a “champion of new music,” as he is passionate about expanding the repertoire for the piano, by embarking on a multi-year commissioning project of several works for solo piano, and for piano and orchestra.  Mr. Fan is consistently acclaimed for his recitals, recordings, and appearances with orchestras throughout the world.  His concerts attract a wide range of audiences, as he has eagerly embraced traditional piano literature as well as an eclectic range of repertoire, including new music commissioned especially for him, world music, and his own transcriptions.

As a recording artist, Mr. Fan’s two consecutive Billboard Top 10 Debuts Recordings, World Keys and West of the Sun have been praised by Gramophone Magazine.   Minnesota Public Radio claimed that Mr. Fan creates programs that reflect a pianist who “takes you inside the music offering a deeper, more rewarding experience.”  He recently completed a tour of South America and East Asia.

Mr. Fan made his debut with the Helena Symphony two years ago, and returns to perform Liszt’s powerful Piano Concerto No. 1 and a percussive piano masterpiece by Polish composer Karol Szymanowski.   

“Very few performing artists have achieved the fame that pianist Franz Liszt did,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott.  “Even by today’s standards of popularity, Franz Liszt would rival the likes of The Beatles or Elvis Presley.  For more than two decades Franz Liszt toured as a concert pianist, playing over 1,000 recitals.  Fans would try to get close to Liszt, so much so that Liszt eventually bought a dog and passed off clips of the dog’s hair as his own to appease those who simply wanted to touch the composer.”  As one of the most provocative and brilliant figures in all of music, Liszt seemed to believe that his compositions should be as colorful and sensational as his own life.

“It is rare and incredible that a soloist will perform two large scale works,” says Director of Artistic Planning Teak Hoiness.  In addition to the Liszt, Mr. Fan will perform Karol Szymanowski’s Symphony No. 4 for Piano & Orchestra.  “Even though Szymanowski is not recognized as part of the main stream of musicians of the twentieth century, he certainly is one of the most intriguing,” explains Maestro Scott.  “Despite the miserable conditions in his life at the time, Szymanowski composed a work that is more powerfully delightful than hopeless, along with an intermittent ritualism.”

The concert begins with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.  “This is one of the few moments in Beethoven’s music where he is light-hearted and playful,” says Maestro Scott.  “He was in love, and he conveys that in the beautiful, fiery, and harmoniously rich Fourth Symphony.”

This concert is also part of the Symphony’s new Young Professionals Concert Series designed for professionals in their 20’s to 40’s.  This three concert mini-series (concerts January, February and one other choice) features a Beethoven symphony, and is designed so young professionals have an opportunity to become part of the Helena arts scene, mingle and network with other young professionals, and experience the Helena Symphony.  The Young Professionals Concert Series costs $50 for all three concerts, and includes several other bonuses such as a pre-concert social with a complimentary drink.

Tickets can be purchased on line at helenasymphony.org, or by calling the Symphony Box Office (406.442.1860), or at the Symphony Box Office located at new offices on the Walking Mall at the Livestock Building (2 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 1) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  S

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