Piano Superstar Emanuel Ax joins The Orlando Philharmonic


The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by seven-time Grammy winner and piano superstar Emanuel Ax (pictured above) on December 3 at 8 p.m. and December 4 at 2 p.m. Both concerts will be lead by Music Director Eric Jacobsen and will be held at Bob Carr Theater, 401 W. Livingston Street, Orlando, Florida.

This will be Emanuel Ax’s first time performing with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for audience members to hear a performance from a world-class musician of his caliber. Ax will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Philharmonic. He has also performed numerous times with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman and is currently on tour in Europe.

“There is no greater ambassador of the piano than the soulful, virtuosic, brilliant and joyous Emanuel Ax,” said Music Director Eric Jacobsen. “To hear him play is to smile and cry and live. I think my favorite facet of Ax’s playing is his humane empathy. He feels, so we feel! The Orlando Philharmonic can’t wait to make music with such a world-renowned artist!”


This concert will also feature the Philharmonic in the world premiere of American composer Lisa Bielawa’s Drama/Self Pity for orchestra. Bielawa (pictured above) is a composer-vocalist and is an active participant in the New York music scene. She and Jacobsen worked together on her latest album, The Lay of the Love, released on Innova in June 2015.

“I’ve had the honor and pleasure of collaborating with Eric Jacobsen in many fulfilling musical contexts over the course of more than 10 years, but this opportunity to enter into the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra community for the first time, with a world premiere, is especially exciting,” said Bielawa. “I’ve created a work for this concert that is playful and bold, to honor both the lighthearted and the dramatic sensibilities of the composers whose works we will hear in this program, and to celebrate this musical friendship – and extend it to a new musical family!”

Single tickets are available online at orlandophil.org, by calling (407) 770-0071, or in person at the Box Office, located at The Plaza Live (425 N. Bumby Avenue, Orlando). The Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Ticket prices subject to change.)

Now in its 24th season, The Orlando Philharmonic is Central Florida’s professional orchestra, comprised of accomplished musicians recruited from around the world. Presenting over 125 events each year, the orchestra provides captivating musical experiences and education programs to people of all ages, and is committed to building a rich, sustainable future for symphonic music in Central Florida. Learn more at OrlandoPhil.org.

About the Artist:

Emanuel Ax, Pianist: Born in Lvov, Poland, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. His studies at the Juilliard School were supported by the sponsorship of the Epstein Scholarship Program of the Boys Clubs of America, and he subsequently won the Young Concert Artists Award. Additionally, he attended Columbia University where he majored in French. Mr. Ax made his New York debut in the Young Concert Artists Series, and captured public attention in 1974 when he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists followed four years later by the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.


Three prominent duo collaborations will be carried through Mr. Ax’s current season. Beginning with the release of sonatas by Fauré and Strauss  on the Deutsche Grammophon label, Mr. Ax will partner with long-time friend and colleague Itzhak Perlman for concerts in Kansas City, Ravinia, Dallas, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and La Jolla in the first half of the season. A return visit to Japan will be followed by concerts in Paris, Berlin, Rome, Tel Aviv and Amsterdam. As an annual guest with the New York Philharmonic he will play Brahms with Alan Gilbert in addition to return visits to orchestras in Houston, Chicago, and Pittsburgh as well as duos in Philadelphia and New York with violinist Pamela Frank in a program of Mozart sonatas. Long-standing partner Yo-Yo Ma will join him in Norfolk, VA, Washington, DC and Carnegie Hall where they will program all the Beethoven sonatas for cello and piano. Solo recitals in Tokyo, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Boston will culminate in Carnegie Hall as part of the hall’s 125th anniversary celebrations in May.


Two projects were featured  in the second half of the 2014-15 season for Mr. Ax, the first being a two week “Celebrate the Piano” festival with the Toronto Symphony that he curated, which encompassed performances by multiple pianists, including Mr. Ax, exploring the many facets of the piano. The second was a European  tour with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin that began with a joint appearance in Carnegie Hall. Throughout the season he returned to the orchestras of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, St. Louis, Montreal and Ottawa. Recitals took him to Vancouver, San Francisco and the mid-west ending in Lincoln Center’s Tully Hall. In Europe, he returned to the Berlin Philharmonic followed by a tour to Vienna, Salzburg, Graz and London performing Winterreise with Simon Keenlyside as well as both Brahms Concerti in Amsterdam and Paris with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Sir Bernard Haitink. Other European orchestras last season featured the London Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Tonhalle Zurich and the National Orchestras of Toulouse and Lyon.


A Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987, recent releases include Mendelssohn Trios with Yo-Yo- Ma and Itzhak Perlman, Strauss’s Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart, and discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman. Mr. Ax has received GRAMMY® Awards for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn’s piano sonatas. He has also made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with cellist Yo-Yo Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. His other recordings include the concertos of Liszt and Schoenberg, three solo Brahms albums, an album of tangos by Astor Piazzolla, and the premiere recording of John Adams’ Century Rolls with the Cleveland Orchestra for Nonesuch. In the 2004/05 season Mr. Ax also contributed to an International EMMY® Award-Winning BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In 2013, Mr. Ax’s recording Variations received the Echo Klassik Award for Solo Recording of the Year (19th century music)/Piano.


In recent years, Mr. Ax has turned his attention toward the music of 20th-century composers, premiering works by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and Melinda Wagner. Mr. Ax is also devoted to chamber music, and has worked regularly with such artists as Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Mr. Ma, Edgar Meyer, Peter Serkin, Jaime Laredo, and the late Isaac Stern.


Mr. Ax resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki. They have two children together, Joseph and Sarah. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Yale and Columbia Universities. For more information about Mr. Ax’s career, please visit www.EmanuelAx.com.


Drama/Self Pity for orchestra is a five-minute piece adapted from a movement of my work Chance Encounter, a dramatic piece comprising songs and arias constructed of speech overheard in transient public spaces, which was premiered by soprano Susan Narucki and The Knights in Lower Manhattan’s Seward Park. A project of Creative Capital, the 35-minute work has since been performed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, in Vancouver, Venice, and in Rome on the banks of the Tiber River in partnership with urban placemaker Robert Hammond, a founder of The High Line in New York. In the orchestral version, commissioned and premiered by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, I have cast the orchestra as a disgruntled urban populace, led by two trumpeters with escalating, competing complaints.


The overheard snippets that inspired Drama/Self Pity were collected and culled together on the basis of their whining nature: “I’m always on the wrong side”; “It’s not my fault”; “I missed the announcement”; and my favorite, overheard by Eric Jacobsen and texted to me while I was composing: “Do you solve everything by crying?” In the end, this short piece invites a playfully cathartic response to the many small irritants of modern life that we all share, grudgingly.

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