Conductor Allen Gross
I recently came across an idea that seems very appropriate to the beginning of the Santa Monica Symphony season: re-enchantment. One definition of the word "enchant" means "to influence by charms and incantation" (and the latter of course comes from cantare, "to sing"); it also means "to thrill, to enrapture". We hope to thrill you, to enrapture you, to delight you, and to put you under the spell of music once again this season. Perhaps also to challenge you, possibly (although I hope not) to irritate you - but most importantly, to engage you.
This year we are bringing back soloists who have enchanted and delighted you in past seasons. Bryan Pezzone, who performed the Gershwin Piano Concerto a few seasons ago, whill be playing Ode to Liberace, a delightful piece by the extraordinary American composer Michael Daugherty (we won't promise a white piano and candelabra however!). Chet Swiatkowski, who performed the Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major with us, will also be back, to open the season with his pianist wife, Hak Soon, to perform Mozart's elegant Concerto for Two Pianos. And on our final concert, cellist Armen Ksajikian will be the soloist in Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto. If you were at our concert last March and heard Shostakovich's Symphony No. 15, you probably have not been able to forget Armen's poignant playing of the great cello solo in the second movement. One of my earliest thoughts for this season was to ask him back to solo in the Cello Concerto and he thankfully accepted!
We are also performing "Seventh Symphonies" by Beethoven, Dvorák, and Schubert (yes, the "Unfinished" Symphony is really his seventh, but we still call it "No. 8"!), Mahler's First, and the magnificent "Mathis der Maler" symphony by Paul Hindemith.
The Orchestra and I do hope that you will indeed be "re-enchanted" with our music-making this year. Enjoy the season!
Allen Robert Gross
Music Director and Conductor
Music Director/Conductor of the Santa Monica Symphony since 1991, Allen Gross continues to delight the public with enthusiastic and well-prepared performances of a challenging and diverse repertory that embraces the new and the old, the familiar and the unfamiliar. A native New Yorker, he studied with Pierre Monteux, Walter Susskind, Sandor Salgo and Hans Swarowsky, beginning at Queens College and UC/Berkeley before earning his doctorate at Stanford and continuing at the Vienna Music Academy and the American Institute of Orchestra Conducting. From 1972-1978, he directed the Heidelberg Castle Festival, also serving as conductor of the Junges Kammerorchester Heidelberg and in the opera houses of Freiburg and Aachen. Back in the United States, Gross directed the orchestra and opera programs at the University of Louisville before joining the music faculty at Occidental College in 1983 to serve as Director of the Occidental-Caltech Symphony Orchestra. He has since served as Music Director/Conductor of the Pasadena Young Musicians Orchestra and the Pasadena Summer Youth Chamber Orchestra and has appeared with the Los Angeles Monday Evening Concerts, the Minnesota Composers Forum, broadcast concerts from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and honors orchestras in California and Nevada. Last Season, Mr. Gross returned from China, where he conducted a concert with the orchestra of the Shenwang Conservatory of Music. The past two summers, he has traveled and concertized in Italy, the Czech Republic and other Eastern European countries with members of the Santa Monica Symphony.
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