On Saturday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center, world renowned pianist and acclaimed recording artist Joel Fan will perform with the Helena Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Fan’s appearance last season was one of the most attended concerts. “As part of the Symphony’s 60th Anniversary Season, we have been featuring some of the most exciting soloists and music, and Mr. Fan certainly remains one of the most popular guest artists with the Helena community,” says Director of Artistic Planning Teak Schummer.
Mr. Fan returns this month to perform Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, which has been used in numerous films (such as the award-winning Shine), and is hailed as one of the most virtuosic piano concertos, as only a few pianists attempt the masterpiece. Most concertgoers of any regularity know the basket-case-to-icon story of Sergei Rachmaninoff. The universally admired pianist, but controversial composer, suffered a nervous breakdown in the aftermath of the disastrous premiere of his First Symphony. He was revived, so to speak, by a hypnotherapist, who uttered the famous words, “You will write again, and the work will be excellent.” Rachmaninoff then had a decade of splendid musical accomplishment, beginning with the luscious Piano Concerto No. 2 (1901), and culminating in the Third Piano Concerto, completed in 1909, on the eve of Rachmaninoff’s first American concert tour.
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 has performed around the world on performance tours, and recently released his new recording Dance for Piano & Orchestra. Mr. Fan made his debut with the Helena Symphony in 2012, and returned last season to perform Liszt’s powerful Piano Concerto No. 1.
The concert opens with another popular masterwork – Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet Overture & Fantasy. “In addition to being Tchaikovsky’s first major work and success, Romeo & Juliet is a mirror into the composer’s own view of life and love,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott. “The center of the work is an idea that plagued Tchaikovsky all his life – love as ideal purity and beauty, which is often crushed by hostile fate, continued melancholy, insecurity, and depression. It is a wonderful poetic abstraction of the drama, and is a 20 minute musical synopsis of the entire Shakespeare drama.”
The concert continues with Paul Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis. While Hindemith is remembered more by musicians than audiences, his Symphonic Metamorphosis (composed in 1943) is an exciting musical journey loosely based on music of Carl Maria Weber. “Within a brief 20 minutes, Hindemith gives us music that transitions from powerful and aggressive, to witty, playful, and dream-like,” explains Maestro Scott.
Tickets are available on line 24 hours a day at helenasymphony.org, or by calling the Symphony Box Office (406.442.1860), or at the Symphony Box Office located on the Walking Mall at the Livestock Building (2 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 1) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets range from $52 to $12.
Please contact the Helena Symphony for interviews with Music Director Allan R. Scott and Pianist Joel Fan.