First, let’s take a detour to classic television. Fans of “M*A*S*H” may remember some of the history behind Maurice Ravel’s “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major.”
In one episode, a concert pianist lost his arm in battle. Maj. Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) tried to convince the man there was still music left to play. Winchester gave him the sheet music to the Ravel.
In real life, the work was commissioned by a pianist, Paul Wittgenstein, who’d lost his right arm during World War I. In the early 1930s, Ravel gave Wittgenstein a second chance to thrill an audience.
“If you close your eyes, you wouldn’t know it was being played with one hand,” said Margaret Anne Murphey, TSO’s president and executive director. “It’s a remarkable piece of music.”
Israeli pianist Yaron Kohlberg will perform the piece. Kohlberg won second place in the 2007 Cleveland International Piano Competition.
“Yaron Kohlberg came across as an eager and ardent musician who makes contact with everything he touches,” Donald Rosenberg reported in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The pianist also will play Ravel’s “Piano Concerto in G Major.” It incorporates jazz themes and will have a lighter tone than the concerto that was popularized on “M*A*S*H.”
The symphony will get a second chance to make a first impression in Mississippi.
The Ford Foundation’s Made in America program united orchestras in 50 states and Puerto Rico to commission a work by Joseph Schwantner. “Chasing Light” was supposed to make its Mississippi premiere in March.
“It’s a very difficult piece,” Murphey said. “The executive decision was made to play the first movement last time. They’re going to play the entire work during this concert.”
Since it’s a new piece, TSO Musical Director Steven Byess will provide the audience with a set of guideposts to listen for during the performance.
“We’re the only orchestra in the state that can perform it right now,” Murphey said. “It’s always invigorating and interesting to hear a world premiere. That’s what ‘Chasing Light’ is.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.