Originally Published: May 5, 2014 6 a.m.
The Phoenix Symphony will be making its last appearance of the season in Prescott on Sunday, May 11, at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center.
The concert will be presented by the Yavapai Symphony Association and will beging at 3 p.m., with a pre-concert lecture about the performance starting at 2 p.m..
The concert will feature 25-year-old American pianist Sean Chen. In 2013 Chen won the American Pianists Association's DeHaan Classical Fellowship, one of the most lucrative and significant prizes available to an American pianist. He also won third prize at the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, becoming the first American to reach the finals since 1997.
Chen has appeared as soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under Gerard Schwarz, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Suwon City Philharmonic, New West Symphony, and the Juilliard Orchestra.
Growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of Oak Park, California, Chen's impressive achievements before college included receiving an NFAA ARTSweek award, a prize at the California International Young Artist Competition, the Los Angeles Music Center's Spotlight Award. These honors won him offers of acceptance by MIT, Harvard, and the Juilliard School. Deciding to study music, Chen earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at Juilliard, where he won the 2010 Gina Bachauer Piano Competition, and first prize at the 2008 Julliard Piano Competition. Today, in addition to performing all over the world, he is pursuing his artist diploma at the Yale School of Music.
Chen and the Phoenix Symphony will be performing "Four Sea Interludes" from Peter Grimes, op.33a, a tragic opera about a Suffolk fisherman, written by Benjamin Britten, a 20th century English composer. That will be followed by Edvard Grieg's "Concerto in A Minor for Piano and Orchestra," which coincidentally he composed when he, too, was 25 - the same age as Chen.
The concert's finale will be Mozart's popular "Symphony No. 41 in C Major," also known as the "Jupiter Symphony." The "Jupiter" was completed in 1788 and was Mozart's last symphony, and it is uncertain whether the work was performed during the composer's lifetime. It is the largest and most complex of all of his symphonies. Although at moments jovial, it generally carries a serious spirit - especially in the first and fourth movements - that hints at the grand romantic symphonies. The authoritative opening movement is followed by a more subdued second movement, with a lyrical mixture of themes in major and minor keys. The third movement is a stately minuet, and the fourth and final movement is bold and brisk, with a strident fugal coda that is a hallmark of the piece.
Guest conductor for this performance will be British-born James Judd. The former musical director for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, he led the symphony on their first world tour throughout Europe.
"I can't think of a better way to end our 2013-14 season than with the Jupiter Symphony as a finale," said Arlon Inman, president of the Yavapai Symphony Association. "And Mother's Day is the perfect occasion to show our moms some appreciation by taking them to what promises to be a most enjoyable concert."
Tickets for the concert, ranging in price from $28 to $39, are available only from the Yavapai Symphony Association. YSA's office, 228 N. Alarcon St., is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and the Friday before each Sunday concert, for patrons wishing to purchase tickets in person. Tickets also may be purchased by phone, (928) 776-4255, for pickup at will call, or be purchased directly at Yavapai College's Performing Arts Center beginning at 1:30 p.m. on the day of the concert. Full-time college students can purchase any available concert ticket for just $10 and elementary or secondary students and an accompanying adult can receive complimentary tickets to concerts as long as row A orchestra seats remain available.