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November brings classical greats to Krannert Center

November at Urbana’s Krannert Center for the Performing Arts features not only world class classical ensembles, but also musicians and maestros of rock star status. It all starts November 7 with the Irish Chamber Orchestra then continues on November 15 with the San Francisco Symphony in that majestically resonant masterpiece of acoustics, the Foellinger Great Hall. 

The Irish Chamber Orchestra was founded in the early 1970s in Dublin, and the respected group struggled for years to keep its top players from being grabbed off by other orchestras. At the time, regardless of the fine reputation of the ensemble, other orchestras offered more money and better concert venues. So, in 1995, John Kelly, the CEO of the Irish Chamber Orchestra, negotiated a deal unique in the modern age of classical ensembles, arranging to move the orchestra to Limerick, on Ireland’s west coast. The Irish Chamber Orchestra then became the orchestra-in-residence at the University of Limerick; and, with government subsidies and the promise of a new performing arts venue, the orchestra flourished under this unique set of circumstances.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra’s U.S. tour not only includes a November 7 concert at the Krannert Center, but also three major star attractions of the classical music world. Brooklyn-born maestro JoAnn Falletta will be on the podium—temporarily away from her duties at the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Ulster Orchestra—to lead The Irish Chamber Orchestra. She is one of the rising superstars in the world of classical music with over 70 recordings, ten Grammy nominations, and two Grammy Awards.

The featured soloists for this event are among the legends of the classical flute. The world-famous Sir James Galway and his American-born wife, Jeanne, are both scheduled to perform solos. Classical flute music has an unfortunate elitist label, but consider the fact that, in his fifty year career, Sir James Galway has sold over 30 million recordings. The Mozart Concerto for Flute. K. 314 just may take on a sound you have never imagined possible with such forces behind it. 

Also on the bill that evening are:  Sir Hamilton Harty’s “In Ireland,” Mendelssohn’s Symphony #3, the Scottish, and a lesser known piece by a Belfast-born composer, Philip Hammond’s Carolan Variations. 

Only eight days later, the Foellinger Great Hall will welcome one of the truly great symphony orchestras, The San Francisco Symphony, led by the legendary Michael Tilson Thomas.  Maestro Thomas has been San Francisco’s Music Director since 1995 and has brought this already fine ensemble into world class status.  

Maestro Thomas will perform some well-established staples of the concertrepertoire. Beethoven’s Leonore’s Overture #3, one of the master’s most dramatic works, will open; a Mozart piano concerto will follow that, with Copland’s Symphonic Ode to round out the program.

In between, some of the best rising talent in classical music will be showcased. The piano soloist is none other than Jeremy Denk, who is one of the truly brilliant young keyboard masters. Plus, young compositional talent will be on display with a performance of Steven Mackey’s 1993 opus, Eating Greens.

For lovers of large and small ensembles, for lovers of established talent, for lovers of rising stars, or if you just love great music, Urbana’s Krannert Center has a couple of truly splendid offerings this November.  Check out the Krannert Center website for further information, or call the Krannert box office at 217-333-6280.

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