Monday, August 11, 2008

The ASO on GPB, August 14 & 17 - Season Finale

Eastern European roots nourish the final concert of the Atlanta Symphony's 2007-2008 season, recorded in June. Music director Robert Spano conducts.

Clarinetist Todd Palmer plays five different-sized instruments as soloist in The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind. Argentinian-born composer and ASO favorite Osvaldo Golijov draws on Jewish High Holiday liturgy as well as the dancing and keening sides of East European klezmer music in this soulful showcase for clarinet. "Isaac the Blind" is another name for kabbalist rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572).

And the season concludes with a thrilling performance of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird, based on Russian folklore about a magical, flame-colored bird. This is the piece that catapulted young Stravinsky to fame: his first collaboration with ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev, it paved the way for Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. The ASO plays the entire ballet in its full original orchestration - three harps, the works!

Please join host Sarah Zaslaw for the last of this season's 24 episodes of The ASO on GPB, Thursday, August 14 at 8 p.m. and Sunday the 17th at 10 p.m. on GPB radio stations and Please send any comments or questions to Thanks for listening!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The ASO on GPB, August 7 & 10

A Persian-accented world premiere. In June, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra gave the first performances of the Piano Concerto by Behzad Ranjbaran. In this sweeping, grand new work, Ranjbaran was inspired partly by the ancient springtime festivities of Persepolis and the sound of massed Persian alpine horns.

Ranjbaran was born in Iran in 1955, entered the Tehran Conservatory at age 9, and came to the States to study at Indiana University and the Juilliard School of Music. He now is on the faculty at Juilliard. He has written music for violinist Joshua Bell and soprano Renee Fleming to perform, and now for Jean-Yves Thibaudet as well. This piece was commissioned by the ASO, at Thibaudet's request.

The concert opens with Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 - with ASO principal players Cecylia Arzewski, Christina Smith, Elizabeth Koch and Tom Hooten as soloists on the violin, flute, oboe and trumpet - and ends with Rachmaninoff's Third Symphony, making three for three Rachmaninoff symphonies this season.

Host Sarah Zaslaw speaks with music director Robert Spano about updating orchestral dress codes and the accuracy of his entry in Wikipedia (and about music too). Spano himself interviews composer Behzad Ranjbaran and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet about the Piano Concerto they've collectively just brought into the world - like a new baby.

Tune in Thursday, August 7 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, August 10 at 10 p.m. over most of these GPB stations and

(Next week: The season finale! Todd Palmer plays five clarinets, albeit not at once, as soloist in the soulful, klezmer-inflected Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind by Osvaldo Golijov, and Roberto Spano and the ASO close out the season with the complete Firebird ballet music by Igor Stravinsky.)