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17-18 Russian Masters
Professor Wen-Lei Gu
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Saturday, October 7, 2017 (7:30 pm)

Location: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Overture to Voyevoda, Op. 3, TH 1
Dmitry Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 77, A minor
Wen-Lei Gu, violin
Modest Mussorgsky / arr. Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition

We start our season with the emotionally challenging and technically brilliant Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1, played by Lawrence University’s professor Wen Lei Gu. This award-winning and internationally popular soloist is a great friend of Maestro Groner, and we are delighted to welcome her back to our stage. We finish this all-Russian program with Pictures at an Exhibition, selected to showcase our amazing orchestra.

Notes from Maestro Groner:
I doubt that many of us have heard the overture which begins this final season of my tenure with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, Voyevoda (A Dream on the Volga). Tchaikovsky destroyed its score a few years after its creation, and subsequently pirated many of its best ideas in creating another, later opera. The overture starts out as only Tchaikovsky can, somehow mysteriously letting everyone know that something is going to happen. And happen it does. You don’t have long to wait until he breaks forth into his typical flamboyant style.

Few of us need an introduction to the phenomenal Wen Lei Gu. I was first introduced to her with a letter sent to me by her notable teacher, Miriam Freid. A formal letter of introduction is such a sophisticated, old school way of introducing your protégé to a colleague. I was charmed at having received it and I still have the letter in my files. When I got the chance to hear Dr. Gu play, I was charmed yet again. I listened to her rehearse the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Lawrence orchestra and I was blown away. Her playing was (and remains) so elegant and so sophisticated. It has been my distinct privilege to work with her on almost ten different occasions.

For our final piece, we have Pictures at an Exhibition. The FVS has performed this massive work several times during my tenure. It is my hope that we use this performance as a way to hear how the orchestra has grown, and celebrate the musicians who have made this growth possible.

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