West Michigan Symphony brings piano virtuoso Charlie Albright to Muskegon

Muskegon, Michigan, April 16, 2015 – Friday, May 15, piano virtuoso Charlie Albright will appear as a guest artist with the West Michigan Symphony (WMS) in a concert that features Nordic composers, and May 16 the famous pianist will give a solo recital at The Block.

The Friday evening concert titled Following the Nordic Sun, features Nordic composers and the immensely talented American pianist Charlie Albright, playing the Grieg Piano Concerto.

The first half of the concert travels from darkness into light, beginning with the Helios Overture, op.17, by Nielsen, conducted by Andrew Koehler. The piece is named after the Greek sun-god, Helios, who was conceived as a charioteer driving east to west across the sky each day. It was this ride across the sky that attracted Carl Nielsen as the perfect subject for the overture.

The next piece, conducted my WMS music director Scott Speck is the Symphony no. 5, op. 82 in E-flat major, by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Influenced by the sounds of forest and lakes surrounding his home near Helsinki, the Symphony no. 5 ends with one of the most triumphant sunrise scenes in all of music.

When asked about the “Nordic Sun” theme, Music Director Speck commented, “Every piece on this program makes a journey from darkness into light. The Helios Overture actually follows the sun on a whole day’s journey across the sky. As in many of his symphonies, Sibelius here makes the transition from obscure uncertainty into a blazing white light, and the climax is all the more glorious because we had to wait for it. Grieg’s piano concerto vividly depicts a stark Norwegian winter giving way to a bright and joyous spring.”

The Grieg Piano Concerto, op. 16 in A minor, featured in the second half of the concert, showcases the talent of piano virtuoso Charlie Albright. Hailed as “among the most gifted musicians of his generation” by The Washington Post, Albright has been praised for his “jaw-dropping technique and virtuosity meshed with a distinctive musicality” by The New York Times. Albright was the recipient of the prestigious 2014 Avery Fisher Career Grant, 2010 Gilmore Young Artist Award, winner in the 2009 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and recipient of the 2013 Arthur W. Foote Award.

Speck had this praise for guest artist Albright, “The fact that Charlie Albright’s name perfectly fits the theme of our program is pure coincidence…or is it? He is gaining attention around the world for his glowing, brilliant, shimmering performances. A former Gilmore artist, he makes his West Michigan Symphony debut in this program.”

The Friday, May 15, WMS concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $18 to $48, students tickets are $7 and can be purchased by calling the WMS ticket office at 231.726.3231 ext. 223, in person at 360 W. Western Avenue or online at westmichigansymphony.org.

Saturday evening fans will get a second chance to hear Charlie Albright in a solo recital at the Symphony’s smaller performance space, The Block, in downtown Muskegon. Albright will perform pieces by Beethoven, Strauss and Chopin, along with some improvisational stylings of his own. Doors open at 6:30 and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the Saturday, May 16, performance at The Block are $25 and available at the West Michigan Symphony ticket office at 360 W. Western Ave. in Muskegon. Patrons may also call 231.726.3231 ext. 223 or purchase tickets online at westmichigansymphony.org.

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts