* Naumburg Orchestral Concerts
Naumburg Orchestral Concerts Naumburg Orchestral Concerts
Naumburg Orchestra
Place & Time
Naumburg Bandshell
Central Park
New York NY
August 5, 2008
Naumburg Orchestra
Maxim Eshkenazy, Conductor
Ashu, Saxophone

* * *

Bela Bartok (1881-1945)
Rumanian Folk Dances (1915)

Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)
Serenade for Strings in E Major, Op. 22 (1875)

Jacques Ibert (1890-1962)
Concertino da Camera (1935)

Astor Piazzolla (1921-92) (arr. Ashu)
Two Tangos: Tanti Anni Prima (1984) &
Liber Tango

Jules A. E. Demersseman (1833-66) (orch. Ashu)
Fantaisie sur un theme original (1862)
Additional Information
Maxim Eshkenazy, conductor
Considered a rising star among today's youngest generation of conductors, Bulgarian native Maxim Eshkenazy has been described as a musician of "vigor and intelligence..." who conducts with "complete assuredness and insight..." The Los Angeles Times calls him "charismatic and exciting."

Maxim Eshkenazy has just been appointed assistant conductor of the Pacific Symphony affective July 2008. His current conducting appointments include Music Director of the Bakersfield Youth Orchestra and Assistant Conductor at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Previously he was associated with the Pasadena Youth Symphony as its Music Director, and served as Music Director of the Music of Changes Chamber Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the American Youth Symphony, and Assistant Conductor of the Herbert Zipper Chamber Orchestra.

He regularly guest conducts Bulgaria's major orchestras, including the Sofia Philharmonic, Classic FM Orchestra, Pleven Opera-Philharmonic Association, Bourgas Opera-Philharmonic Association. Committed to the promotion of new music, Eshkenazy is frequently involved in performing the music of contemporary composers.

During the 2007/08 season, Eshkenazy shares the concert stage with noted violinist Shlomo Mintz in celebration of the State of Israel Independence Day. He also makes his conducting debut with the Varna Opera-Philharmonic Society Orchestra and returns to the Bourgas Opera-Philharmonic Society and Classic FM Orchestra.

Among last season's highlights was a concert with violin virtuoso Pinchas Zukerman and the Classic FM Orchestra, which received nation-wide attention and was broadcast on Bulgarian National Television.

Maxim Eshkenazy received his early musical training at the Sofia Conservatory before moving to the United States to pursue a double Master of Music degree in Conducting and Violin Performance at the University of Southern California.

He is an alumnus of several world-class conducting schools and workshops including the Pierre Monteux School in Maine, and was awarded a coveted Conductor's Fellowship to the newly established American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival in the summer of 2000.

An avid sportsman and licensed pilot, Eshkenazy makes his home in Southern California.

Ashu, saxophone soloist
Concert saxophonist Ashu, age 26, has continually defied conventions winning major international and national competitions traditionally won by pianists and violinists. He made his recital debut at Carnegie Hall's, Weill Recital Hall. in New York and, at age 16, made his concerto debut at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Since then, performances have taken him throughout the USA and Europe, including such locations as Norway, Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Portugal, and the French West Indies.

With a dynamic style that captivates audiences, and a repertoire ranging from original soprano and alto saxophone works by Debussy, Ibert, and Villa-Lobos to his own arrangements of Morricone, Rachmaninoff, and Piazzolla, Ashu has shown that the concert saxophone can reach beyond stylistic categorization and to a large diversity of people. His playing has been described as "Riveting...Brilliant...Pizzazz to burn!" (National Public Radio Performance Today host) and "...just as much fun to watch him as it is to listen to him." (Dallas Morning News).

Born and raised in California, Ashu began playing the saxophone at age 10. His love for performing quickly became apparent and he began entering various competitions. Ashu has won First Prizes at the International Heida Hermanns Competition, International Kingsville Wind Instrumentalist Competition, National Federation of Music Clubs Competition, National Midland-Odessa Competition, National Lennox/RSO Competition, National George S. Howard Competition, and National Alliance for Excellence Competition. In addition, he has been overall winner of the Houston Symphony, Keweenaw Symphony, Skokie Valley Symphony, and Northwestern University Concerto Competitions. Others awards include overall winner of the American Opera Society Competition, First Prize winner of the WAFA Concerto Competition, winner of the Interlochen Governor's Scholarship, and Grand Prize winner of the Houston Symphony Flores-Smith Competition.

Ashu has toured as concerto soloist with symphony orchestras throughout the world (Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Metropolitan Orchestra of Lisbon, etc.) and has been presented on numerous prestigious recital series, with recent venues including the Vienna Konzerthaus, Kravis Center, and La Jolla Music Society Series. Upcoming engagements include concert tours and performances at music festivals throughout Europe, New Zealand, Australia, the Baltic, and the USA. Ashu received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in saxophone performance from Northwestern University and is currently based in the Chicago area. For more information on Ashu, please visit his website at www.ashuonline.com.

Program Notes
By Ashu

Jacques Ibert (1890-1962)
Jacques Ibert was born in Paris and attended the Paris Conservatory. His career was interrupted due to a brief service in the war, but after being demobilized, he wrote one of his most successful works, Escales (Ports of Call) for orchestra. Importantly, Ibert began studying the dramatic arts before turning to music. He believed that music was closely linked to the other arts, and it was simply part of a larger emotional response to all aspects of experience. He considered music to be the "expression of an interior adventure," and never mere pattern-making. He employed the moods and techniques of Impressionism along with the structure of neo-Classicism. Ibert also wrote incidental music for radio and films, including music for Orson Welles' film Macbeth (1948), and the circus scene for Gene Kelly's Invitation to the Dance (1952). In 1935, Ibert composed his Concertino Da Camera for alto saxophone, which is often considered one of the greatest works in the saxophone repertoire.

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
Astor Piazzolla is the single most important figure in the history of the tango. He took an earthy, sensual, often disgraceful folk music and elevated it into a sophisticated form of art music. Piazzolla was also a virtuosic performer with unparalleled mastery of the bandoneon (a large button accordion). Born in Mar del Plate to Italian parents and raised in New York, his blend of styles reflects his many cultural influences growing up. He began his career playing the bandoneon on the radio in New York and later in the cabarets of Buenos Aires. Becoming bored with traditional tango, he went to Paris in 1954 to study classical composition with Nadia Boulanger who urged him to use his Argentinean roots in finding his own voice. He returned to Buenos Aires and began performing his newly dubbed "nuevo tango" style with his own ensembles - reworking the traditional tango rhythms and forms, infusing them with often harsh dissonances as well as classical and jazz elements, and eliminating the dancers and vocalists typically part of the tango. While his music earned him ruthless criticism from the tango purists of Argentina for his abandonment of tradition, his new style found an enthusiastic audience amongst young Argentines, a craze which quickly spread through his recordings and concerts during the 70' and 80's, bringing him enormous international acclaim throughout Europe and Latin America, and eventually the rest of the world.

Jules Demersseman (1833-1866)
Jules Demersseman was a very well know French composer during his time, though he lived a short life. He was born in the Netherlands and attended the Paris Conservatory at the age of just 11, receiving his "Premier Prix" at the mere age of 12. He was known as a flute virtuoso and composed in a style that demanded extreme virtuosity from the performer. He often used operatic arias as themes for his compositions. His Fantaisie sur un thème original for alto saxophone and piano is one of the earliest known works written for the saxophone and a piece that he was so particularly fond of that he later arranged it for flute and piano.
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