The performance, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Empire Arts Center, will present classical music at it most approachable, and should be welcome entertainment after a prolonged winter that’s been tough on all of us, said the symphony’s musical director, Alexander Platt.
“At least we’ll give people some spring in their step,” Platt joked on Tuesday.
The music of George Gershwin will be the centerpiece of the concert, which will feature pianist and Gershwin enthusiast Hyperion Knight, who has recorded two CDs devoted to unique arrangements of Gershwin’s music. Knight frequently performs “Rhapsody in Blue,” most recently with the Santa Fe, Long Beach, Tennessee, St. Joseph, New Mexico and New Jersey symphony orchestras, said a news release.
Knight is a pianist equally at home in serious classics and popular standards with recordings that range from Beethoven to the Beatles. Born in Berkeley, Calif., Knight was 19 when he graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. By 22, he had received both a Master’s degree and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and was awarded the Arthur Loesser Prize, named for the Cleveland Institute of Music faculty member and classical pianist.
Knight, who lives in New York, specializes in virtuoso piano transcriptions in the tradition of Liszt and Horowitz. The publication Stereophile said he performed “with marvelous verve and spectacular confidence” on his recording of “Gershwin by Knight.”
Saturday night’s program will feature music from Gershwin’s operatic “Porgy and Bess” as well as songbook selections, which Knight will play and talk about for the audience.
Also on the program: “Hungarian Dance No. 5,” by Johannes Brahms; “Roses from the South,” Johann Strauss; “Barcarolle” from “Tales of Hoffman” and “Orpheus in the Underworld” by Jacques Offenbach; and “Clair de Lune,” by Claude DeBussy.
This will be the GGFSO’s second to last concert of the season. It’s season finale will be May 11 featuring Alejandro Drago on Brahms’ “Violin Concerto.”