Thursday, April 10, 2008

April 10 & 13, 2008

This week on GPB Radio, meet conductor Kwame Ryan. He was born while his Trinidadian parents were visiting Toronto. They moved to Africa when he was an infant and eventually fled Idi Amin's Uganda. Kwame grew up back in Trinidad. He knew from age 6 that he wanted to be a conductor, however, and since Trinidad didn't offer enough opportunities, he left at 14 for boarding school in England.

Now Kwame Ryan has built a conducting career in Europe - he's in his first season leading orchestra in Bordeaux, France - and he's starting to guest conduct in America too. In November he led the Atlanta Symphony for the first time, and that's the concert we hear.

As Ryan explains, Robert Schumann was recovering from a mental breakdown when he wrote his Symphony No. 2, and the piece itself reflects struggle back to health and hope. That's the first half of the program.

In the second half, violinist Leila Josefowicz joins the Atlanta Symphony for Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Josefowicz is a gutsy player, and a down-to-earth person. She explains what makes the piece so challenging, why she wrote timpani accents into her new cadenzas, and how thrilled her son was to learn that Mozartwas a potty-mouth.

Join Sarah Zaslaw for The ASO on GPB, Thursday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 10 p.m.

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