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The Spokane Symphony's "Masterworks 9: Stravinsky's Firebird" concert

Conducting candidate Jingqi Zhu, Spokane Symphony Music Director James Lowe and violinist Benjamin Beilman (L–R) in the SPR lobby
Savanna Rothe
/
Spokane Public Radio
Conducting candidate Jingqi Zhu, Spokane Symphony Music Director James Lowe and violinist Benjamin Beilman (L–R) in the SPR lobby

James Lowe, Benjamin Beilman and Jingqi Zhu preview a Hungarian-inspired program

Violinist Benjamin Beilman, Spokane Symphony Music Director James Lowe and conducting candidate Jingqi Zhu joined E.J. Iannelli in the KPBX studio to offer more detail on this weekend's Masterworks 9 concert.

The program features a variety of works with a Hungarian connection, including Béla Bartók's Hungarian Sketches and György Ligeti's Concert Românesc (both Hungarian composers) as well as Johannes Brahms’ Violin Concerto, which was dedicated to the superstar Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim. The sole exception is actually the concert's title piece, The Firebird suite (1919 version), a popular yet ambitious work by Igor Stravinsky.

All three guests talked about the contrasts and commonalities among the works on the program. As the featured guest soloist, Beilman described what he felt was noteworthy about the Brahms concerto. He also briefly discussed a contemporary piece he played recently, sanguineum by the Seattle-based composer Gabriella Smith.

Zhu had participated in the symphony's recent conducting masterclass and returned this week to shadow Lowe in some of his day-to-day duties.

Lowe also gave a preview of some of the organization's summer events and what audiences can expect early on in the 2023–24 season — not least of which is an appearance by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The Spokane Symphony offers two performances of "Masterworks 9: Stravinsky's Firebird" this weekend—one on Saturday, May 13; the other on Sunday, May 14—at the Fox Theater in downtown Spokane.

Tickets and more information are at the Fox Theater's website or by calling the box office on (509) 624-1200.

E.J. Iannelli is Spokane Public Radio's Arts and Music Director
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