RELEASE: Dvořák, Walker, & Schumann is an exploration of the orchestra
Maestro Bahl takes audiences on a tour of the sections of the ensemble
Program features works by American composers Michael Tilson Thomas and George Walker
OMAHA, Neb., Dec. 28, 2021—In the fourth Symphony Joslyn series concert of the 2021/22 season, audiences can come along on a journey through the different sections of the orchestra via repertoire from Michael Tilson Thomas, Antonin Dvořák, George Walker and Robert Schumann. Beginning with a work for symphonic brass by living American composer Tilson Thomas, the program moves through Dvořák’s Serenade for Wind Instruments and Walker’s Lyric for Strings. The orchestra comes together for Schumann’s emotional Symphony No. 2 in C Major, a work that pulled the composer out of a deep depression and back into lockstep with his identity as a serious artist and Romantic-era composer.
Dvořák, Walker & Schumann will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9 at the Joslyn Art Museum Witherspoon Concert Hall. Ticket holders are invited to arrive early for the Joslyn Art Museum curator-led pre-concert talk at 1 p.m. and 1:25 p.m. A string quartet featuring Omaha Conservatory of Music students Pauline Lee, Jasmine Palikhya, Libby Meade and Nathan Evans will perform in the Storz Fountain Courtyard ahead of the concert at 1:10 p.m.
“This program was quite exciting to build out artistically and acts a microcosm of my larger vision for the 2021/22 season,” said Maestro Ankush Kumar Bahl. “It lends us a unique opportunity to admire an incredible living American composer in Michael Tilson Thomas as well as an undercelebrated legacy American composer in George Walker; audiences will also hear their favorites from the canon while getting to experience each section of the orchestra separately and then together for Schumann’s Second Symphony in the very special and intimate space the Joslyn’s Witherspoon Concert Hall has to offer.”
Sunday, Jan. 9 at 2 p.m.
Joslyn Art Museum Witherspoon Concert Hall
Pre-concert gallery talk at 1 and 1:25 p.m.
Ankush Kumar Bahl, conductor
MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Street Song
DVORAK: Serenade for Wind Instruments, Op. 44
WALKER: Lyric for Strings
SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61
Tilson Thomas, Dvořák, Walker, Schumann
American composer Michael Tilson Thomas is perhaps best known for his long tenure as esteemed music director of the San Francisco Symphony, a position he held from 1995 to 2020. Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein proclaimed that Tilson Thomas “has shaped American music and musical institutions for the 21st century.” Tilson Thomas’ Street Song was composed in 1988 for the ensemble Empire Brass. It is a work that marries varying styles from Medieval to contemporary dance. “Street Song is a work in three continuous parts—an interweaving of three songs,” the composer said of his showcase for brass. The work explores “starting and stopping, the moments of suspension always leading somewhere else.”
The Serenade for Wind Instruments saw Antonin Dvořák emerge from a deep depression after the loss of both of his children. The work served as his triumphant emergence from a dark time after finding artistic and financial support from Viennese music critic Edouard Hanslick and composer Johannes Brahms. Both lent the young Czech composer considerable influence as he sought to make himself a name in Europe—and that he did. His Serenade for Wind Instruments harkens back to Mozartian serenades in that it is an entertaining romp showcasing the wind instruments of the orchestra with virtuosic runs and playful themes.
American composer George Walker showed musical aptitude from a very young age; after beginning piano lessons with his mother, he rose in the ranks giving his first recital at Howard University when he was just 14 years old. He continued on to study at some of the country’s most prestigious musical institutions including Oberlin College and the Curtis Institute. In 1946, Walker’s Lyric for Strings became the most frequently performed orchestral work by a living composer and in 1996 he became the first Black composer to win a Pulitzer Prize.
Robert Schumann is known in music history for his tortured genius; scholars speculate that he suffered from what was most likely bipolar disorder, composing vast amounts of work in bursts of mania. The mid 1840s saw Schumann suffering from a particularly challenging self-doubt spell brought on via a massively successful Russian tour by his wife and one of the greatest pianists of the era, Clara Schumann. His Second Symphony is a journey from despair to triumph as the composer re-established his footing in self-confidence after completing the work.
About Ankush Kumar Bahl
Ankush Kumar Bahl is currently the 13th Music Director in the Omaha Symphony's 100-year history. He is recognized today by orchestras and audiences alike for his impressive conducting technique, thoughtful interpretations and engaging podium presence. In concert, he has left The Washington Post “wanting to hear more” and has been praised by The New York Times for his “clear authority and enthusiasm” and ability to “inspire.” His recent guest conducting highlights include performances with the New York Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Orchestre National de France, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México, the Richmond Symphony, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C.). Summer festival engagements include the Copenhagen Philharmonic at Tivoli, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institute and at Wolf Trap with the NSO.
A protégé of former New York Philharmonic Music Director Kurt Masur, Bahl served as his assistant conductor at the Orchestre National de France from 2008-2011. From 2011-2015, he served as the assistant conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. In addition to Maestro Masur, Bahl is fortunate to count Jaap van Zweden, Zdenek Macal, Christoph Eschenbach, David Zinman and Gianandrea Noseda among his mentors.
Tickets for Dvořák, Walker & Schumann start at $35. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.omahasymphony.org, through the Ticket Omaha app, or by calling Ticket Omaha at 402.345.0606. Student rush tickets are $10 and can be purchased one hour before the performance. Performance dates are subject to change. In the event of performance changes or cancellations, the Omaha Symphony will email ticket holders to inform them of new dates and ticketing options. Patrons with questions may email email@example.com. The Omaha Symphony also regularly posts performance updates at omahasymphony.org, along with the Omaha Symphony’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Patrons can sign up for the latest updates at omahasymphony.org.
Public Health Information
The safety of our patrons, musicians, staff, and community is the Omaha Symphony’s priority. The Omaha Symphony continues to work closely with the Douglas County Department of Health and our partners at Omaha Performing Arts and UNMC to ensure the safety of all involved in the Omaha Symphony’s return to live performances. All patrons will be required to complete a health screening questionnaire prior to accessing their mobile tickets via the Ticket Omaha app. Masks are required at indoor Omaha Symphony performances.
Find the most up-to-date public health information at omahasymphony.org/public-health.
The Omaha Symphony is a non-profit organization that presents more than 100 live orchestral performances from September through June. In addition to Masterworks, Symphony Pops, Symphony Rocks, Movies, Symphony Joslyn, and Family series concerts, the Omaha Symphony’s nationally recognized education and community engagement programs touch the lives of more than 40,000 people each year. For tickets or information regarding the Omaha Symphony, call 402-345-0606 or visit omahasymphony.org. Programs, artists, dates, times, prices, and availability are subject to change.