Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

September 29, 2009

Noteworthy: Orchestra marks 20th season

Pianist returns for Beethoven, Grieg

VALDOSTA — Valdosta Symphony Orchestra has a big weekend coming.

The “Celebration” concert marks the start of the orchestra’s 20th season. It honors the late Leona S. Hudson for her donation to the VSO. It marks new conductor Howard Hsu’s first season with the orchestra.

And the concert welcomes the return of pianist Robert Henry, a Georgia native whose performances have earned national and international acclaim.

Henry is scheduled to play Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Beethoven’s Fantasia in C Minor, also known as “Choral Fantasy.” The orchestra is also set to perform Dvorak’s overture “My Home” and Verdi’s “Triumphal March and Ballet” from “Aida.”

The Valdosta Daily Times conducted an e-mail interview with Henry.

THE VALDOSTA DAILY TIMES: Many visiting artists perform one piece with the orchestra. You are performing two. How difficult is preparation for two featured selections during one evening’s performance?

ROBERT HENRY: “Concertos are generally more difficult than most solo repertoire. Composers write them for the artist, not the student, and Beethoven in particular did not care one bit if a performer complained about the difficulty of one of his works. He was interested in music. Despite the technical difficulties, the process of preparing a concerto is in some ways easier than preparing a solo recital. A typical solo recital is 90 minutes, and the soloist is responsible for every second of those 90 minutes. There is a great deal of organization and planning that goes into shaping 90 minutes of sound. It is mentally taxing. However, in collaborative works, the pressure is shared amongst the musicians, and the music just takes flight right there on the stage.

“Another point: Even though the music is written out note for note, it is impossible to show up to a concerto performance with your mind made up about everything; part of the fun is discovering what the conductor and the orchestra members have come up with. So, concertos demand on-the-fly flexibility, much like jazz.”

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