Rhodes serves up a musical variety

Kevin Rhodes
SPRINGFIELD Springfield Symphony Orchestra Maestro Kevin Rhodes will have a lot on his plate at the Jan. 20 concert in Symphony Hall as he serves up a variety of classical music, from a reprise of his first concert in Springfield seven years ago, to a New England premiere by world famous composer Lowell Lieberman.

Guest artist pianist Jeffrey Biegel will take front and center in the newly commissioned Liebermann work, "Piano Concerto No.3."

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. after Rhodes holds an informal half-hour discussion, in the hall open to ticket holders, at 7 p.m. called "Classical Conversations, about the evening's performance."

"I find that returning to a great piece of music is like seeing an old friend again. On Jan. 20th the orchestra and I will be revisiting the very first work we played together, Tchaikovsky's 'Symphony No. 4.' I can't describe how exciting this will be for me personally, as it was with this work that I was introduced to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra musicians and the wonderfully appreciative audiences here in Springfield," Rhodes said.

Rhodes said the symphony joined a consortium of 18 orchestras nationally to commission Liebermann, a New York City native, to use his skills to compose a piano concerto. The Jan. 20 concert will be the first time the concerto is heard New England.

It was premiered last May in Milwaukee, with pianist Biegel and the Milwaukee Symphony conducted by Andreas Delfs. The music can best be described as accessible and melodic. Jeffrey Biegel has established himself as a most versatile artist said Rhodes.

"He consistently amazes audiences and critics throughout the world with his electrifying technique, elegant pianism, warmth and artistic maturity," Rhodes said.

Unable to neither hear nor speak until the age of 3, until corrected by surgery, Biegel had dedicated his life to music after only being able to hear vibrations in his formative years. Biegel is currently on the piano faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, at the City University of New York

For his part, Liebermann is a prolific composer. In May 1996, Liebermann's opera, based on Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray," was premiered at the L'Op ra de Monte-Carlo to great popular and critical acclaim, marking the first commission and premiere of a work by an American composer in the history of the company. James Oestreich of the "New York Times" commented, "Musically and dramatically, Mr. Liebermann's work is effective; as a first opera, it is remarkable."

Rhodes predicted that audiences will enjoy another of his favorites.

"In the form of the 'Thieving Magpie,' the orchestra and I will be performing one of our favorite types of pieces with which to begin a concert, a Gioacchino Rossini overture. There is nothing that can top the sheer joy and fun of Rossini's famous curtain raisers," he said.

The audience is invited to meet Maestro Rhodes and Jeffrey Biegel following the concert in the Mahogany Room.

The concert is sponsored by United Personnel Services. The media sponsor is ABC 40. MassMutual Financial Group is the official season sponsor.

All concert tickets may be purchased from the Springfield Symphony Box Office, 1350 Main Street, downtown Springfield, charged (VISA, MasterCard American Express or Discover) by calling 733-2291 or on-line at SpringfieldSymphony.org.

Tickets range from $16 to $54 with secure free parking. Tickets for youth age four to 17 are half price. A discount of 25 percent is available for groups of 10 or more. Visit the SSO Web site at www.SpringfieldSymphony.org.