Pacific Symphony Plays Beethoven's Fifth Under the Stars
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One of the brilliant mainstays of the orchestral literature — Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony — is the centerpiece for Pacific Symphony’s next Summer Festival concert at Irvine’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Heralded for its famous four opening notes — “da-da-da-dum!” — this potent work is paired with two other classical giants: the riveting overture to La forza del destino, a lesser-known opera by the composer of Aida and La traviata, Giuseppe Verdi; plus Grieg’s beautiful Piano Concerto, featuring the remarkable young Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Martinez performs. Led by San Francisco Symphony’s associate conductor, James Gaffigan, this concert promises an emotional roller-coaster ride of music from beginning to end, concluding with a brilliant fireworks display!
“Beethoven’s Fifth is a wonderful piece to introduce to new audience members, and that in turn makes it a great summer series piece,” says Maestro Gaffigan. “I try to conduct it as much as possible, even though it is so well-known—the familiarity never outweighs the joy of performance. There are great rewards in this piece.”
Joining Gaffigan on the stage is pianist and child prodigy Gabriela Martinez, who has already amassed an impressive list of recital, concerto and chamber music performance credits that belies her relative youth. Having made her major orchestral debut at the age of 7, today Martinez is a regular performer with the Simón Bolívar Youth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s new music director. In 2003, Martinez also won first prize at the Anton Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Dresden, and was a semi-finalist at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Martinez has received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music from The Juilliard School of Music, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Germany.
“I had the opportunity to conduct Gabriela Martinez in Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto in San Francisco a year ago,” says Gaffigan. “She is a fantastic performer!”
In 2006, Gaffigan was named associate conductor of one of America’s oldest orchestras, the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). In this role, he serves as artistic director for SFS’s Summer in the Cities series and leads the orchestra in concerts throughout the season. Prior to his San Francisco appointment, Gaffigan was assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, where he acted as music director for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra. A graduate of New England Conservatory and the Shepherd School of Music in Houston, Gaffigan was one of eight conductors chosen by David Zinman to participate as an academy conductor in the inaugural year of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival. He has also studied at the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center, and in 2004, received first prize at the Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition in Frankfurt, Germany.