Britt's 2013 Classical Festival

Left to right: Mei-Ann Chen, Teddy Abrams and David Danzmayr audition for musical director and conductor of the Britt Orchestra.Photos courtesy of Britt Festivals

Music conductors Mei-Ann Chen, Teddy Abrams and David Danzmayr will audition for the position of music director and conductor during Britt's annual Classical Festival, to be held Friday, Aug. 2, through Sunday, Aug. 18.

The three were chosen from a national search that attracted more than 130 applicants, and each one will conduct two concerts with the Britt Orchestra. The finalist will replace the long-standing Peter Bay, who directed the orchestra for 20 years.

concert schedule

All concerts will be held at the Britt Pavilion, 350 First St., Jacksonville, unless otherwise noted.

  • 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2-3 — Pianist Jon Kimura Parker and the Britt Orchestra will perform Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony and Beethoven's Seventh Symphony on Aug. 2 in the auditorium at South Medford High School, 1771 Cunningham Way. The Aug. 3 concert will feature Lutoslawski's Variation on a Theme of Paganini and will be presented at the Britt Pavilion. Mei-Ann Chen conducts.

  • 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 9-10 — Pianist Uja Wang and the Britt Orchestra will present Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. The Aug. 9 concert will include Gershwin's Concerto in F, and the Aug. 10 concert will feature violinist Augustin Hadelich playing Stravinsky's Violin Concerto. Teddy Abrams conducts.

  • 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11 — Members of the Britt Orchestra will perform chamber music at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2000 Oakwood Drive, Medford. Admission is free.
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14 — Members of the Britt Orchestra will perform chamber music at Schmidt Family Vineyards, 330 Kubli Road, Grants Pass. Admission is free.
  • 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15 — Project Trio will perform at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Green Show.
  • 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16-17 — Pianist Lisa Smirnova and the Britt Orchestra will perform Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story Symphonic Dances. The Aug. 17 concert will feature violinist Jennifer Koh and the orchestra in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto and Dvorak's Symphony No. 8. David Danzmayr conducts.
  • 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 — Project Trio: Beyond the Page will perform at the Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland. Admission is free.
  • 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18 — The Britt Orchestra will present Symphony Pops, featuring Project Trio. Wes Schulz conducts. Tickets cost $5.

Tickets for the orchestra concerts cost $42 for reserved seats; $30 for lawn seating. Ages 60 and older pay $40 for reserved seats; $28 for lawn seats. See www.brittfest.org or call 541-773-6077.

The Britt Orchestra first performed in 1963, according to Donna Briggs, Britt's executive director. Fifty years later, it is a first-rate ensemble that draws 90 musicians from top orchestras across the country.

This year, standout soloists will include pianists Jon Kimura Parker, Ian Parker, Yuja Wang and Lisa Smirnova, along with violinists Augustin Hadelich and Jennifer Koh.

Chen will conduct the opening-night concert featuring Parker, who will perform Sergei Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Paganini. Symphonies by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Ludwig van Beethoven also will be showcased.

Chen is music director of the Memphis Symphony and the Chicago Sinfonietta. Earlier in her career, she served as music director of the Portland Youth Philharmonic and assistant conductor for the Oregon Symphony. The Rocky Mountain News called her "passionate and committed, yet on the money with cues and pacing" in a review of her performance with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Chen's Aug. 2 show will include pianist Parker performing Witold Lutoslawski's arrangement of Variations on a Theme of Paganini.

Abrams conducts the Aug. 9 and 10 concerts, featuring a Bela Bartok concerto and a symphony by Dmitri Shostakovich. Wang will play George Gershwin's Concerto in F for piano and orchestra on Friday, and violinist Hadelich will play Igor Stravinsky's Violin Concerto on Saturday.

Abrams is assistant conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and a resident conductor with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. He's conducted the New World Symphony, a fellowship that prepares top graduates of music schools for leadership positions in orchestras and ensembles around the world. He's also an accomplished clarinetist, pianist and composer. He founded the Sixth Floor Trio in 2008 with two other graduates of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Danzmayr, of Austria, will conduct Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story Symphonic Dances and pianist Smirnova's solo of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 on Aug. 16. On Aug, 17, he'll conduct a symphony by Antonin Dvorak and Koh's performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.

Danzmayr is music director of the Illinois Philharmonic in Chicago and music director designate of the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio. He also served for three years as assistant conductor for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

This year's classical music camp for ages 8 through 18 will be led by Project Trio, a chamber music group based in New York City. The trio's versatile repertoire includes compositions and arrangements that bridge classical, jazz, hip-hop, rock Americana and bluegrass. The trio has arranged pieces by Charlie Mingus, Dave Brubeck, Jethro Tull and Guns n' Roses, as well as Tchaikovsky and other classical composers.

The camp will run Aug. 12-17 and culminate with an Aug. 17 performance at the Unitarian Fellowship in Ashland. Applications are available at www.brittfest.org/projectbeyond.

The 2013 classical season at Britt Festivals will end with a Symphony Pops concert on Sunday, Aug. 18. The Britt Orchestra will perform a selection of audience favorites and feature Project Trio. Wes Schulz, assistant conductor for the Britt Orchestra, directs.

— Laurie Heuston


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