RELEASE: Bulgarian Conductor Stilian Kirov Conducts William Grant Still’s “Mother and Child”
The Omaha Symphony’s Christi Zuniga Shines in Piston’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra
Program Features Eric Ewazen’s “Symphony in Brass” and Haydn Symphony No. 104
OMAHA, Neb., Feb. 25, 2021—Bulgarian conductor Stilian Kirov takes the helm of the Omaha Symphony as guest conductor for a program featuring a range of beloved orchestral works. The concert begins with a celebratory brass feature from living composer Eric Ewazen, “Symphony in Brass.” Then, Omaha Symphony Principal Keyboardist Christi Zuniga takes center stage for her performance of Walter Piston’s cutting-edge Neo-Classical work, Concertino for Piano and Orchestra. The performance continues with a lesser-known work by “The Dean of Afro-American Composers,” William Grant Still’s “Mother and Child.” Finally, the performance culminates with a Haydn favorite, Symphony No. 104 in D Major, “London.”
Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6 at the Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall.
“I’m thrilled to be performing Piston’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra with the Omaha Symphony,” said Principal Keyboardist Christi Zuniga. “I celebrated 20 years with the Omaha Symphony last year, and it’s always a special honor to appear as a guest artist with the ensemble. I’m also excited to introduce audiences to this very energetic and joyous piece that features lots of sparkling passagework, interesting chords and beautiful melodies throughout.”
Friday, March 5 at 7:30
Saturday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall
Stilian Kirov, conductor
Christi Zuniga, piano
ERIC EWAZEN: “Symphony in Brass”
PISTON: Concertino for Piano and Orchestra
STILL: “Mother & Child”
HAYDN: Symphony No. 104 in D Major, "London"
Cleveland, Ohio native Eric Ewazen was commissioned to write his “Symphony in Brass” by the Detroit Chamber Winds in 1991. The engaging and celebratory work has been performed many times throughout the United States and Europe – alert listeners may recognize the music of the third movement from its use on NPR’s political entries. A work in three movements, it features the brass musicians of the Omaha Symphony, along with select percussion.
Walter Piston’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra takes after the Neo-Classical forms of Stravinsky, containing both contemplative and lovely string writing as well as biting and acerbic sonorities in the solo piano line. This will be Christi Zuniga’s first appearance a soloist with the Omaha Symphony since 2013, when she performed Haydn’s Harpsichord Concerto in D Major.
Often described as “The Dean of Afro-American Composers,” William Grant Still is one of many Black composers whose deep catalogue of work for the symphony orchestra is happily seeing a rich re-emergence. “Mother and Child,” however, is a work that is less often performed. It originally appeared as the second movement of the composer’s Suite for Violin and Piano, and was a favorite of Still’s – the composer said that “Mother and Child” reminded him of his own mother, the music a sort of tone poem portraying the sweetness and rigidity of her character.
The concert comes to a close with a favorite of many: Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in D Major, “London.” England made it a habit of importing composers from the European continent to the island to supplement what was a perceived inability to produce native-born composers of a certain level. Haydn’s two extended voyages to London were a result of this, and his symphonies 93-104 were a result of these voyages. This final symphony, aptly nicknamed “London,” epitomizes the flowering of the late-classical style.
About Stilian Kirov
Bulgarian conductor Stilian Kirov is Music Director of the Illinois Philharmonic in Chicago’s Southland, the Bakersfield Symphony in California and New Jersey’s Symphony in C. A 2017 and 2016 recipient of the Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, Mr. Kirov has proven to be not only a dynamic artistic director, but also an enthusiastic educator and community leader, continuing to build upon his previous successes as Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony and Associate Conductor of the Memphis Symphony.
Stilian Kirov is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including an Emmy for the Memphis Symphony’s Soundtrack Project, the Orchestra Preference Award, and Third Prize at the 2010 Mitropoulos Conducting Competition, as well as Juilliard’s Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship and the Charles Schiff Conducting Award for outstanding achievement. He is also the recipient of France’s 2010 ADAMI Conducting Prize, culminating in a showcase concert at the Salle Gaveau with the Orchestre Colonne. Following the performance, Mr. Kirov was invited to conduct the orchestra’s opening concerts of the 2011/2012 season in Paris.
Worldwide, Kirov has appeared with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Leopolis Chamber Orchestra/Ukraine, Orchestra of Colors/Athens, Orchestre Colonne/Paris, Sofia Festival Orchestra, State Hermitage Orchestra/St. Petersburg, Thüringen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Zagreb Philharmonic, the Musical Olympus. Kirov is a graduate of The Juilliard School in orchestral conducting, where he was a student of James DePreist. He holds a Master of Music degree in conducting from the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, where he studied with Dominique Rouits.
About Christi Zuniga
Christi Zuniga has been Principal Keyboardist with the Omaha Symphony since 2000. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Clayton State College in Georgia and received a Master of Music degree in Chamber Music and Accompanying from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
In addition to her full-time position with the Omaha Symphony, Ms. Zuniga teaches piano privately and accompanies musicians in and around Omaha for various concerts and competitions. She has collaborated with many visiting artists, including Joseph Alessi, Thomas Bacon, and Peter Verhoyen.
Christi Zuniga resides in Ralston, Nebraska with her husband and their chihuahuas.
Tickets for Stilian Kirov Conducts William Grant Still 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. 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
Performances at the Holland Performing Arts Center feature physically distanced seating and will only be seated at a maximum of 30 percent capacity. 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. The following changes have been implemented within the venue:
- Enhanced Cleaning & Sanitation - Electrostatic technology disinfecting large common areas, enhanced sanitizing of high touch surfaces with hospital grade disinfectant and hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue
- Heating and Cooling System – Upgrades to air handling units includes bipolar ionization filtering out viruses through ventilation
- Staff Precautions – Staff and volunteers are required to complete a health screening upon entrance to the building, wear face masks and receive temperature checks.
- Touchless Experience – Tickets are accessible via the Ticket Omaha app. Tickets can also be printed at Will Call. Program notes will be delivered digitally.
Find the most up to date public health information at omahasymphony.org/public-health.
This performance is sponsored by Omaha Steaks.
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.