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18-19 Spring
Conductor Alastair Willis
Guest Artist Alexander Hersh, Cello
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Saturday, March 9, 2019 (7:30 pm)

Location: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

Mason Bates: Mothership
Dmitry Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 107 in E flat
with Guest Artist Alexander Hersh
Serge Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet, Selections from Suites 1 and 2

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Boldt Symphony Series
Lead Season Sponsor: Thrivent Financial
Community Partner: Community First Credit Union


Program Notes

Conductor Alastair Willis

Grammy nominated conductor Alastair Willis is currently the Music Director of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. In past seasons, Willis has guest conducted orchestras around the world including the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Mexico City Philharmonic, Orquestra Sinfonica de Rio de Janeiro, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonic, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, China National Orchestra (Beijing), and Silk Road Ensemble (with Yo-Yo Ma) among others. His recording of Ravel’s “L’Enfant et les Sortileges” with Nashville Symphony and Opera for Naxos was Grammy nominated for Best Classical Album in 2009.

Last season Willis was re-engaged by the Seattle Symphony, Gyor Philharmonic, Symphonia Boca Raton, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Orchestra Seattle/Seattle Chamber Singers, and made his debut with the Philharmonie Südwestfalen. This season he returns to the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, Victoria Symphony B.C., Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boca Raton Symphonia, and makes his debuts with Peninsula Music Festival, Fox Valley Symphony, La Porte County Symphony, Salute to Vienna, and Seattle’s Music of Remembrance.

Previous positions include Music Director of the Illinois Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor with the Florida Orchestra’s Coffee Concert series, Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony, Assistant Conductor with the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, and Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Born in Acton, Massachusetts, Willis lived with his family in Moscow for five years before settling in Surrey, England. He received his bachelor’s degree with honors from England’s Bristol University, an Education degree from Kingston University, and a Masters of Music degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

Willis currently resides in Seattle.

Guest Artist Alexander Hersh

Since making his Symphony Hall debut with the Boston Pops in 2015, cellist Alexander Hersh has quickly established himself as a rising young talent. Season highlights include his Carnegie Weill Hall recital debut, a “Three-generation” Hersh Trio performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto for the opening night of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra’s 40th anniversary season, a performance of the Brahms Double Concerto with the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, as well as recitals and chamber music appearances in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Blonay, and Berlin.

Alexander Hersh performs frequently throughout the US, Canada, and across Europe. He has received numerous awards both as a soloist and as a chamber musician, including first prizes at the: 2017 New York International Artists Association Competition, 2017 Luminarts Classical Music Fellowship, 2017 Borromeo String Quartet Guest Artist Award, the 2016 Schadt String Competition, 2016 Jefferson Symphony International Young Artists Competition, the 2016 Hellam Young Artist Competition, 2015 Boston Pops/New England Conservatory Competition, Society of American Musicians, the Saint Paul String Quartet Competition, the Jules M. Laser National Chamber Music Competition, the Chicago National Chamber Music Competition, and is a three time winner of the New England Conservatory Honors Competition.

In June of 2017, he curated his very own chamber music concert at the 53rd Street New York Public Library, “Alexander Hersh and Friends” featuring great masterpieces performed alongside other rising young artists. In August of 2018, Hersh will launch the inaugural season of Nexus Chamber Music Chicago, a festival dedicated to the mission of deconstructing the traditional barrier between audience and performer.

Raised in Chicago, Alexander Hersh began playing the cello at the age of 5. He studied with Steve Balderston and Hans Jørgen Jensen, and attended the Academy at the Music Institute of Chicago. Hersh received his B.M. from New England Conservatory with academic honors where he was a student of Laurence Lesser and recipient of the Clara M. Friedlaender Scholarship. In May of 2017, he received his M.M. from New England Conservatory where he studied under the tutelage of Paul Katz and Kim Kashkashian. Hersh is a recipient of the Frank Huntington Beebe fund for studies in Berlin during the 2017 - 2018 academic year. He plays a G.B. Rogeri cello on generous loan from a sponsor through Darnton & Hersh Fine Violins in Chicago, IL.

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