Wednesday, August 11, 2010

LSO's 25th Annual Summer Concert on the Esplanade

One hundred years ago, the Charles River Dam was completed at the mouth of the Charles River. The land that was recovered became Boston's beloved Esplanade. Eighteen years later in 1929, a conductor named Arthur Fiedler conducted the first free open air concert on the Esplanade, a tradition of classical music for the community that has continued to this day.

Every summer, thousands of families pack their picnics, spread their blankets, and head to the Hatch Shell on the banks of the Charles River to hear these free concerts. The season begins with the now legendary and widely broadcast Fourth of July performance by the Boston Pops.

For twenty-five years, Longwood Symphony Orchestra has also been a part of this musical tradition, performing its annual free classical concert on the Esplanade at the end of every summer .

In 1995, as part of its mission of community engagement, Longwood Symphony Orchestra began a remarkably successful collaboration with the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts Summer Music Festival. This Festival offers a unique educational experience for talented young people from Taiwan, China and the United States. The program is the brainchild and passion of Dr. Catherine Chan, whose dedication and vision has brought hundreds of talented Chinese musicians to study in Boston for over twenty years.

For most of these students, the Summer Music Festival at Walnut Hill is their first American experience. They spend three weeks at the Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in Natick with master artist faculty, honing their individual instrumental skills, learning chamber music, and sitting side-by-side in orchestra with the seasoned musicians of the LSO. But they do have a chance to put their instruments down to get to know Boston - from shopping, to Duck Boat Tours to a trip to Tanglewood.

The final highlight of this three-week camp is the chance to perform with the LSO on the Esplanade.

And for the lucky winner of the annual Concerto Competition, it is a the chance to make his/her Boston and often American debut, performing for 9000 people.

The winner of the first such Concerto Competition was a young 12-year old pianist named Lang Lang, who has gone on to a wildly successful international career. This performance was Lang Lang's American debut. Although at that time his feet could barely reach the pedals, even at that tender age, his performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 was riveting and memorable.

On Wednesday August 18, Longwood Symphony will perform its 25th concert at the Hatch Shell, joined by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts students : 6 young violinists, 2 violists, 3 cellists, a bassoonist and clarinetist.

The winner of the 2010 annual Summer Concerto Competition is Rui Zhang, a 21 year old student from Shanghai Conservatory. Ms. Zhang will make her American debut, performing Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. The concert, led by Longwood Symphony Orchestra's Artistic Director and Conductor Jonathan McPhee, will also include On Eagle's Wings by the aptly-named composer Bill Boston, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, opus 60.

Longwood Symphony Orchestra
Wednesday evening August 18 at 7:00 p.m.
"In the Mood" conducted by Artistic Director Jonathan McPhee as part of Boston Landmarks Orchestra's Landmarks Festival at the Shell series. 617-667-1527

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