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USC Symphony Orchestra opens season with guest artist Natasha Paremski

The September 15 concert includes music of Tchaikovsky and Sibelius

Natasha ParemskiThe University of South Carolina’s premier orchestra ensemble, led by acclaimed music director Donald Portnoy, receives accolades for its fine performances and guest artists. The first concert of the 2015-2016 season brings guest artist pianist Natasha Paremski, called “empress of the keyboard” by the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The San Francisco Classical Voice wrote Paremski, “… has a real feeling for lush romantic music, the ability to handle blazingly rapid passagework, beautifully executed trills, and all made to look very easy.” Paremski will play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor.

The concert takes place at the Koger Center for the Arts on Tuesday, September 15 at 7:30 p.m.

The Concerto nearly brought the composer and his friend Nikolay Rubinstein to blows. The work was met by harsh criticism from his friend, whom he had asked for advice. The suggested changes did not sit well with Tchaikovsky and were not made. Tchaikovsky dedicated the work, not to Rubenstein as was first intended, but to Hans von Bülow, the famous German pianist and conductor who already liked Tchaikovsky’s music.

Ironically, it was Rubinstein who eventually showed the Concerto off to its best advantage, admitting he had been wrong about it several years later. The eccentricities of the First Piano Concerto, some of which may have caused Rubinstein’s disparagement, are now considered some of its greatest charms.

Also on the September program is Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 in D major, his most popular symphony. The symphony, associated with the Finnish landscape and a patriotic program, was a work the composer actually conceived in Italy.

The symphony was begun in winter 1901 in Rapallo, Italy, finished in Finland in 1902 and first performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Society in March 1902. Finland was undergoing turmoil at the turn of the 20th century and was experiencing a nationalistic fervor against the oppression of its Russian occupiers. Although the composer claimed no patriotic intent was inherent in the work, Helsinki audiences had understood the new symphony to be an overt expression of the political conflict reigning over Finland.

Tickets now on sale

Single concert tickets are $30 general public; Discounts: $25 senior citizens, USC faculty and staff; $8 students. Call 803-777-7500 or Koger Box Office, corner of Greene and Park Streets (M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or Online.

Save with a season subscription

Save with a season subscription (6 concerts) and enjoy the best seats in the house: $150 general public; Discounts: $110 senior citizens, USC faculty and staff; $45 students. Buy online.

See the season’s details.

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