October 22, 2004



Portland, Ore. … Fierce Cossacks, fiery violinists and an array of close friends are portrayed in “Musical Personalities,” a Classical series concert that features Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” and Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” with guest conductor Michael Stern leading the Oregon Symphony and pianist Alexander Korsantia on Nov. 20, 21 and 22 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Media support is provided by The Oregonian. Lufthansa is the exclusive airline sponsor for the Symphony’s Classical series.

Stern, the founding director of the IRIS Chamber Orchestra, will lead the Symphony in Elgar’s best-known work, the “Enigma Variations,” which musically represents twelve of Elgar’s friends, including a rambunctious bulldog, as well as his wife Alice and a revealing self-portrait. Korsantia, who won the gold medal at the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, will join Stern and the Symphony to perform Rachmaninoff’s homage to Paganini with the ever-popular “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” whose romantic 18 th variation is one of the most passionate melodies of the twentieth century. The concert opens with Janáček’s dramatic orchestral tone poem “Taras Bulba,” a portrayal of the fierce and ruthless Cossack warrior determined to save his country from invaders.

Oregon Symphony Classical concerts regularly include additional opportunities for listeners to learn more about the music and the orchestra. These activities include:

Concert Conversations: Bob Kingston and KBPS host Patrick McElroy will lead a discussion one hour before the concert of the works to be performed. Media support for “Pre-Concert Talks” is provided by Classical Millennium.

Saturday: Guest conductor Michael Stern will speak briefly from the podium in “Saturday Interactive.” Media support for “Saturday Interactive” is provided by KINKfm102.

Performances are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Tickets range in price from $18 to $80 and may be purchased at the Oregon Symphony Ticket Office (923 S.W. Washington), Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or charged by phone at (503) 228-1353 or (800) 228-7343. Tickets also may be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets (503-790-ARTS) or through Ticketmaster Online, via the Symphony’s Web site at www.orsymphony.org. Service fees may apply.

Michael Stern

Michael Stern is the founding Music Director of The IRIS Chamber Orchestra, which is now concluding its fourth season. Under Stern’s direction the orchestra has been unanimously heralded for its varied programming, with special emphasis on American contemporary music, and for its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. Dedicated to revitalizing all aspects of the concert experience, IRIS has embraced as a central part of its mission a deep commitment to furthering American composers, and has commissioned works by Stephen Hartke, Richard Danielpour, Edgar Meyer, Jonathan Leshnoff and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

In 2000 Mr. Stern concluded his tenure as chief conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra. The first American Chief Conductor in the orchestra’s history, he was offered the post almost immediately after making his debut with them in March 1996. In addition to their work in concert, for broadcast and on tour, he and the orchestra made recordings which include a disc of Henry Cowell’s works as well as a series devoted to the music of Charles Ives, including a live recorded performance of the “Universe” Symphony and the first recording of the reconstructed “Emerson” piano concerto.

In September 1991, he was appointed Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for four years. He has also appeared with the national orchestras of Paris, Bordeaux, Lille and Toulouse. Elsewhere, Mr. Stern has led such orchestras as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Bergen Symphony, the Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn, the Deutsche Symphoniker (DSO) in Berlin, the Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich and the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne. In the United Kingdom he has appeared with the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony (London) and the English Chamber Orchestra. In the Far East, Mr. Stern has appeared with such orchestras as the National Symphony of Taiwan, the Singapore Symphony and Tokyo’s NHK Symphony, and in September 2001 he led the Vienna Radio Symphony on a tour of China. He has also been a frequent guest conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, with which he has recorded for Denon Records, including a disc of orchestral works by Stravinsky and Prokofiev’s Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 with Boris Belkin. He and Mr. Belkin have also recorded works by Tchaikovsky and Dvorák with the London Philharmonic.

In North America, he has conducted the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., among many others. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival, and has served on the faculty of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. From 1986 to 1991, Mr. Stern was the Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. In September 1986, he made his New York Philharmonic debut as one of three young conductors invited by Leonard Bernstein to participate in a conducting workshop that culminated in two concerts at Avery Fisher Hall.

Mr. Stern received his degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf (whose famous textbook, “The Grammar of Conducting,” Mr. Stern co-edited for its third edition.) He has also edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence, published in January 2002 by Pendragon Press. His studies have included two summers at the Pierre Monteux Memorial School in Hancock, Maine, under the tutelage of Charles Bruck. Born in 1959, Mr. Stern is a graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American History in 1981. He is married to oboist Jeannette Bittar.

Alexander Korsantia

Pianist Alexander Korsantia has received tremendous critical acclaim for his versatility, power and the unique sincerity of his playing.

Today Korsantia can be heard in all of the major concert halls around the globe, including Avery Fisher hall and Carnegie hall in New York, Orchestra Hall and Ravinia Pavilion in Chicago, Herculessaal in Munich, Schauspielhaus in Berlin, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Concergebau in Amsterdam, Metropolitan Hall in Tokyo, the Mann Auditorium in Tel-Aviv, Rudolphinum in Prague and the Marinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

Some of the world-renowned conductors with whom he has collaborated include Valery Gergiev, Christoph Eschenbach, Paavo Jarvi, Zdenec Macal, Gianadrea Noseda and Sakari Oramo.

Born in Tbilisi, Georgia (the former Soviet Union), Korsantia moved his family to the US in 1992 to join the well-known piano studio of his fellow countryman Alexander Toradze at Indiana State University in South Bend, Indiana. Alexander’s mother, Svetlana Korsantia, and Georgia’s foremost pianist-teacher, Tengiz Amiredjibi, were also among his mentors.

Mr. Korsantia’s biography is highlighted with such awards and accolades as the first prize (gold medal)and the “Audience Favorite” selection at the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition and the first prize at the Sydney International Piano Competition where he was also awarded two special concerto prizes. In 1999, for his contributions to Georgian arts, Mr. Korsantia was awarded the Georgian Medal of Honor, one of the highest national citations, established by Georgian president Edward Shevarnadze.

Korsantia’s busy international career includes solo and chamber music recitals with such notable musicians as Vadim Repin and Yuri Bashmet, among others, as well as concert appearances with major orchestras throughout North America, Europe, Israel, Asia and South America. His recent and forthcoming engagements include a televised performance of Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto at the “White Nights Festival” in St. Petersburg, international festivals such as the Stressa festival in Italy, the Newport, Tanglewood, Vancouver and Gilmore festivals in the USA, performances with orchestras such as the Kirov Orchestra with conductor Valery Gergiev, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with conductor Sakari Oramo and many others. A full-length documentary on his career is currently in the making by a Georgian TV production company, due to be released in spring 2003.

Alexander Korsantia’s recordings include releases by the Audiophone label and recordings of Mozart and Shostakovich compositions due to be released in 2003. Currently he is about to launch the project of recording all of Prokofiev's sonatas & Sonatinas for the CBC label, to be released in the summer of 2004.

After completing four years as a music faculty professor at Indiana State University in South Bend, Indiana in September 2001, Korsantia’s family settled in Vancouver , Canada, where he has joined the music faculty at the University of British Columbia. Mr. Korsantia has recently signed an agreement as a Steinway artist/endorser.

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