The Aiken Symphony Orchestra will continue its 2018-19 season with a concert featuring the works of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Antonin Dvorak.
The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, in the Etherredge Center at USC Aiken at 471 University Parkway. For tickets, visit aikensymphonyorchestra.com. Tickets also are available at the Etherredge Center box office and online at the center's website at Etherredge.usca.edu.
The program will feature violinist Paul Huang, the recipient of the prestigious 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the 2017 Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists, according to a news release from the orchestra.
Huang gained attention for his eloquent music making, distinctive sound and effortless virtuosity, according to the release. He is making his 2018 recital debut at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland and will embark on a tour in La Jolla, Chicago, Toronto, Palm Desert, Taiwan (Taipei Hsinchiu, Tainan) and New York. The tour will culminate at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Pyotr Ilyic Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the romantic period, some of whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire., according to the release. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearance as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States.
Tchaikovsky was honored in 1884 by Emperor Alexander III and awarded a lifetime pension.
Tchaikovsky, whose life was punctuated by personal crisis and depression, died at the age of 53 of cholera. His music has remained popular among audiences and has been lauded for offering music that transcended stereotypes of Russian classical music, according to the release.
The “Violin Concerto in D Major” was written in 1878 in a Swiss resort on the shores of Lake Geneva, where Tchaikovsky had gone to recover from the depression of a disastrous marriage and failed suicide attempt. Inspired by a young violinist he met there, the composer completed the entire work in less than a month. The piece is in three movements: Allegro moderato (D major), Canzonette (G minor) and Finale: Allegro vivacissimo (D major).
Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s “From the New World” is considered one of the most popular of all symphonies, according to the release. Astronaut Neil Armstrong carried the cassette into space during the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.
Dvorak displayed his musical gifts at any early age, being an apt violin student from age 6.
The first public appearances of his works were in Prague in 1872 at age 31. In 1874 he submitted two symphonies and other works to the Austrian State Prize for Composition.
Johannes Brahms was the leading member of the jury and was highly impressed. Dvorak was awarded the prize and recommended by Brahms to his publisher, Simrock. Soon afterward, the “Slavonic Dances, Op 46” were commissioned.
In 1892, Dvorak moved to the United States and became the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City. While in the United States, he wrote his two most successful orchestral works: the symphony “From the New World” and his “Cello Concerto.” He also wrote his most appreciated piece of chamber music, the “American String Quartet,” during this time.
He frequently employed rhythms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia as well as Native American rhythms and African-American spirituals that he heard in America.
Shortfalls in payment of his salary, along with an increasing recognition in Europe and homesickness, led him to return to Bohemia in 1895.
The Aiken Symphony Orchestra, conceived by conductor Dr. Donald Portnoy and formed in 2015, comprises professional musicians from the region.
Tom Hofstetter, the former Aiken Performing Arts Group president, and the Aiken Symphony Guild were pivotal in the nonprofit’s start and its continued success.
In addition to the its classical and pops concerts, the orchestra is presented by the Aiken Symphony Guild at youth concerts in February each year.
Portnoy received the Columbia University’s 2004 Ditson Conductor’s Award for his commitment to the performance of works by American composers. The S.C. Arts Commission named him winner of the 2015 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Ward for the Arts in the individual category.
In 2017, Portnoy received South Carolina’s highest honor, the Order of the Palmetto, for extraordinary lifetime service and achievements of national or statewide significance.