Two phenoms, at 19 and 29, team up with Monterey Symphony.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
People could understandably consider 29-year-old piano virtuoso Josu De Solaun a young prodigy – just maybe not at this Monterey Symphony performance, where he’ll share the bill with a 19-year-old composer.
Gabrielle Haigh was already a student of music by the time most children are still enthralled with sand boxes – at 5, she was playing piano, cello and studying music composition. A little over a decade later, she composed a symphony. At age 16. Conductor Max Bragado-Darman discovered that work on the recommendation of a decorated colleague in Cleveland, where Haigh grew up.
“Every composer has his or her own syntax, a way of expressing musical language,” Bragado-Darman says. “Her music is very direct. It is rather descriptive, but uses a medium of melodies, harmonies and rhythms that are very personal and unique. That’s what attracted me. She was writing not to please anybody, [but] to write what she really felt.”
That composition, Symphony No. 1, will be making its world premiere here.
Haigh, who says she was inspired to write it after reading Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, calls it the story of an inventor looking to cure his existential malaise.
“Rand described industry as such a beautiful, living thing, an image that contrasted violently with some of the silent factories and empty warehouses in downtown Cleveland,” she says. “That troubled me. Her description of politicians, on the other hand, is awfully cynical, but the image of them squabbling over minutia was a vivid and exciting one, something I could easily turn into music. This part of the music is definitely inspired by sections of Stravinsky’s Petrushka.”
Haigh, who is studying Greek and Latin Classics at Cambridge, doesn’t have a favorite part of the symphony, but if she plays a movement for her friends, she picks the last movement for its rock-inspired rhythm and dramatic energy.
De Solaun will perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor, Op.30. A native of Valencia, Spain, he has performed everywhere from New York to Japan, and was named the best European pianist last year at the I European Union Piano Competition in Prague.
“He is one of the top soloists in this world,” says Bragado-Darman. “To do Rachmaninoff, you have to be a pianist and a poet at the piano.”
Bragado-Darman hopes the young talents help attract young fans.
“This is a way of assuring youngsters that it is possible to reach the stars,” he says. “It would be an exemplary situation if they come to the concert to see what can be done with work and enthusiasm.”
MONTEREY SYMPHONY happens 2pm (final rehearsal, $15) and 7pm ($20-$39) Saturday, Jan. 22 at Sherwood Hall, 411 Central Ave., Salinas; 3pm Sunday, Jan. 23, and 8pm Monday, Jan. 24, ($38-$78) at Sunset Theater, San Carlos and Ninth, Carmel. 646-8511, www.montereysymphony.org.