RELEASE: A Masterworks Finale: Tchaikovsky 4 and a World Premiere
Dynamic violinist Lara St. John joins Maestro Bahl and the Omaha Symphony for a world premiere of Martin Kennedy’s Violin Concerto
The program closes out with Tchaikovsky’s stirring Symphony No. 4
OMAHA, Neb., May. 20, 2022— In the final Masterworks program of the season, Maestro Ankush Kumar Bahl is joined by Canadian-born violin soloist Lara St. John who was hailed as “something of a phenomenon” by The Strad and “a high-powered soloist” by The New York Times. Together with the Omaha Symphony, they will unveil the world premiere of Martin Kennedy’s Violin Concerto. Flanked by Wagner’s Overture to Tannhäuser conducted by Assistant Conductor Deanna Tham and closing with Tchaikovsky’s tumultuous and Romantic Symphony No. 4 in F minor, this promises to be an unforgettable evening.
When asked to describe the newly composed concerto, St. John paints an enthralling picture of a work on the cusp of great popularity: “I think this will become a staple of the American violin repertoire. It is a unique tour de force for the violinist, especially the first movement, where he takes some typical Bluegrass string crossings and grooves and transforms them into a whirlwind which settles down occasionally only to take off again. The second has a beautiful, almost haunting melody and is just gorgeous - which goes into a long cadenza (eventually joined by the concertmaster) to bring us into the last - a joyful yet slightly dark waltz.”
Following Friday night’s performance, Maestro Bahl will be joined by Lara St. John and Martin Kennedy for the final After Hours of the 2021-22 season. This series, which began its inaugural run this year, allows patrons to experience musical offerings and engage with world-class guest artists in a more casual setting. “Over the course of the current and future seasons we will collaborate with a host of partners around Omaha to present similar events—we are looking forward to seeing this concept grow,” said Music Director Ankush Kumar Bahl.
Performances will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 20-21 at the Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall. Tickets are on sale now at omahasymphony.org.
Friday-Saturday, May 20-21 at 7:30 p.m.
Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall
Ankush Kumar Bahl, conductor
Deanna Tham, conductor
Lara St. John, violin
Martin Kennedy, composer
WAGNER: Overture to Tannhäuser
MARTIN KENNEDY: Violin Concerto (World Premiere)*
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36
After Hours III - Lara St. John and Martin Kennedy
Friday, May 20, immediately following the “Tchaikovsky 4 with Maestro Bahl” performance
Holland Performing Arts Center - Orchestra Level Lobby
Ankush Kumar Bahl
Lara St. John
Following the evening's performance of Tchaikovsky 4 with Maestro Bahl, patrons are invited to gather in the orchestra level lobby for an engaging performance by world-renowned violinist Lara St. John and composer and pianist Martin Kennedy. Admission is free with a ticket to the Masterworks performance. Cash bar available.
About Lara St. John
Canadian-born violinist Lara St. John boasts an impressive and multi-faceted career. She’s a world-renowned performer, owns her own record label, Ancalagon, which she founded in 1999, and has earned multiple accolades for her recordings. The Los Angeles Times wrote, “Lara St. John happens to be a volcanic violinist with a huge, fabulous tone that pours out of her like molten lava. She has technique to burn and plays at a constant high heat.”
St. John has appeared as orchestral soloist with Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and the Boston Pops. Among her international engagements are solo appearances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Symphony, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, Camerata Ireland, Belgrade Symphony, Amsterdam Symphony, and the Akbank Chamber Orchestra in Turkey, Auckland Philharmonia, Tokyo Symphony, Kyoto Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, China Philharmonic, Hangzhou Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, the São Paulo Symphony, Rio de Janeiro’s Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira, and many others.
Her recording of Bach: The Six Sonatas & Partitas for Violin Solo was the best-selling double album on iTunes in 2007. Her 2008 world premiere recording of Matthew Hindson’s Violin Concerto prompted Gramophone to write, “It’s the sort of work that should get audiences running, not walking, back to concert halls on new-music nights.”
In 2014, her Schubert album with Berlin Philharmonic principal harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet, principal cellist Ludwig Quandt and soprano Anna Prohaska was chosen as one of “the best CDs of spring” by Der Tagsesspiegel, and MDR Figaro recommended it for its “boundless enchantment.”
Her 2016 release of Shiksa, an album of reimagined folk music, with pianist Matt Herskowitz, received a five-star review from All About Jazz: “Music like this is beyond imagination and talent. It exists only in the loosely-held molecules found on the razor’s edge of Creation.” Her Key of A recording of sonatas by Beethoven and Franck in 2019 prompted Audiophile Audition to write, “You will want this disc; you need this disc, and it provides an hour of exceptional pleasure and illuminating insight into the worlds of two very different composers.”
St. John has been playing the violin since she was two years old and made her first appearance as soloist with an orchestra at the age of four. Her European debut took place with the Gulbenkian Orchestra when she was ten years old. Throughout her career, she’s been featured in People, US News and World Report, on CNN's Showbiz Today, NPR's All Things Considered, CBC, BBC, a Bravo! Special: Live at the Rehearsal Hall and twice on the cover of Strings.
About Martin Kennedy
Composer-In-Residence at the Alabama Symphony, Martin Kennedy, is a sought-after composer, pianist, and collaborator who has received commissions from distinguished artists such as countertenor Ryland Angel, Parthenia Viol Consort, flutist Thomas Robertello, The Trombones of the St. Louis Symphony, and violinist Lara St. John, with whom he has enjoyed a long collaboration, both as a composer and pianist.
Kennedy has been featured by such ensembles as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra Teatro Comunale di Bologna, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Symphony in C, and the Omaha Symphony.
He is the recipient of several prestigious prizes, including the ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize for Best Orchestral Work, the ‘2 Agosto’ International Composition Prize, five ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the BMI Student Composer Award, the Suzanne and Lee Ettleson prize, fellowships at the MacDowell and Yaddo Artist Colonies, and twice awarded the Indiana University Dean’s Prize in Composition.
A passionate teacher and mentor, Kennedy is highly active in the development of young composers. He has served as an adjudicator for the ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, National Association for Music Education, as well as administrator for both the Washington State Music Teachers Association Composition Competition and the Washington State Young Composers Project.
Kennedy has served on the faculties of Washington University in St. Louis and Central Washington University. His music is published by Theodore Presser Company and G. Schirmer Inc.
About Ankush Kumar Bahl
Ankush Kumar Bahl is currently the 13th Music Director in the Omaha Symphony's 101-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.
About Deanna Tham
Powerfully compelling, Deanna Tham is known for her captivating and tenacious spirit on and off the podium. Newly appointed Associated conductor of the Oregon Symphony and Omaha Symphony’s Assistant Conductor in the 2021/22 season, Tham began her inaugural season as Music Director with the Union Symphony Orchestra (Monroe, N.C.) in 2020-2021, a season that also marked her fourth as Assistant Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony and Principal Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras.
As recently as 2019, Tham has performed at the Proms in Royal Albert Hall, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, and Seiji Ozawa Hall at the Tanglewood Music Center working with Maestros James Ross, Joseph Young, and Sir Antonio Pappano, as well as renowned artists Isobel Leonard and Joyce DiDonato. Highlights of the 2019-2020 season also included leading the Jacksonville Symphony’s first educational Martin Luther King Jr. tribute concert and the Union Symphony’s first city-community Pops on the Plaza collaboration of Latin American pop and classical music. Additional recent engagements include Assistant Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra (NYO-USA and NYO2) and Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Sinfonietta with Maestro Mei-Ann Chen. Tham has also regularly guest conducted with the Boise Philharmonic and Ballet Idaho and worked with soloists including Melissa White.
Tham is also equally at home with a variety of musical genres. These projects include full-feature blockbuster movie scores, collaborations with Cirque Musica and pops groups like Cherish the Ladies and Jeans ’n’ Classics, and independent artists like Silent Film Score connoisseur and composer, Ben Model.
Tham is a staunch advocate of music education from school education engagement and youth orchestral performing opportunities to lifelong learning. In 2018, Tham and the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras made their debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California. Previously, she has worked with the Louisville Youth Orchestras and the Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Tham has also created and presented educational concert series in a variety of formats. She has written original school-curriculum-based programs and collaborated with organizations including Really Inventive Stuff, the Louisville Ballet Academy, and the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute.
Tham is a second-place winner in the Youth Orchestra Conductor division of the American Prize. Tham was invited as a scholarship participant to the 2015 Conductors Guild Conductor/Composer Training Workshop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music working with renowned conductors Marin Alsop and James Ross. Additionally, she was the recipient of the 2015 Wintergreen Summer Music Academy Conductor’s Guild Scholarship where she worked with Master Teacher Victor Yampolsky. In 2013, Tham made her debut with the National Music Festival. Her work with the festival has been featured on National Public Radio as well as American Public Media. She has also made appearances at the Cadaques Orchestra International Conducting Competition.
Previously, Tham was the Music Director of the American Chamber Orchestra. Her work with the company includes a groundbreaking semi-staged version of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, staged in English for the South Chicago community. During her time with the company, she worked with many talented musicians, including those who sing with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She made great strides making the company a strong presence in the Chicago area and has sold recordings of her work with the company on iTunes.
Tham holds a Professional Studies Certificate from the Cleveland Institute of Music in Orchestral Conducting studying with Maestro Carl Topilow. She received her Master of Music in conducting with conducting program honors from Northwestern University studying with Dr. Mallory Thompson. There, she additionally worked with Dr. Robert Harris, Victor Yampolsky, and Dr. Robert Hasty, making her equally at home in wind, orchestral, and vocal settings. Tham received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in horn performance studying with Dennis Abelson, Zachary Smith, Bob Lauver, and Steven Kostyniak at Carnegie Mellon University.
Tickets for Tchaikovsky 4 with Maestro Bahl start at $20. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Thank you to our Masterworks Series sponsor Omaha Steaks and our May concert sponsors Streck and CHI 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.
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