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Mendelssohn’s “Italian”


Mendelssohn’s “Italian”


Saturday | March 9, 2019 | 7:30 PM
Sunday | March 10, 2019 | 2:00 PM
Monday | March 11, 2019 | 7:30 PM
Arlene Schnitzer Hall

1037 SW Broadway
Portland OR 97205

Mendelssohn’s “Italian”

Mendelssohn’s radiant “Italian” Symphony remains one of the most elegant works ever written. Vaughan Williams’ ethereal “pastoral romance” bursts with lush lyricism for solo violin, eloquently performed by our own virtuosic concertmaster, Sarah Kwak. Classical Series Concert

Carlos Kalmar, conductor
• Sarah Kwak, violin
* The Percussion Collective Robert van Sice (Ji Hye Jung, Matthew Keown, Svet Stoyanov, Sam Um), percussion

Wagner: The Flying Dutchman Overture
* Christopher Theofanidis: Drum Circles (World premiere)
• Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4, “Italian” 

Read program notes


Carlos Kalmar

Music Director

Carlos Kalmar is in his 16th season as music director of the Oregon Symphony. He is also the artistic director and principal conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago.

In May 2011 he made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall with the Oregon Symphony as part of the inaugural Spring for Music festival. Both his imaginative program, Music for a Time of War, and the performance itself were hailed by critics in The New York TimesNew Yorker magazine and Musical America, and the concert was recorded and released on the PentaTone label, subsequently earning two Grammy nominations (Best Orchestral Performance and Best Engineered). Under Kalmar’s guidance the orchestra has recorded subsequent CDs on the PentaTone label – This England, featuring works by Britten, Vaughan Williams, and Elgar; The Spirit of the American Range, with works by Copland, Piston, and Antheil, which received another Best Orchestral Performance Grammy nomination; and Haydn Symphonies.

New Yorker magazine critic Alex Ross called the Oregon Symphony’s Carnegie Hall performance under Kalmar “the highlight of the festival and one of the most gripping events of the current season.” That verdict was echoed by Sedgwick Clark, writing for Musical America, who described the performance of Vaughan Williams’ Fourth Symphony as “positively searing… with fearless edge-of-seat tempos… breathtakingly negotiated by all…”

A regular guest conductor with major orchestras in America, Europe, and Asia, Kalmar recently made his subscription series debuts with three of America’s most prestigious orchestras: those of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. Past engagements have seen him on the podium with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the New World Symphony, as well as the orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, Seattle, and St. Louis.

Carlos Kalmar, born in Uruguay to Austrian parents, showed an early interest in music and began violin studies at the age of six. By the time he was 15, his musical promise was such that his family moved back to Austria in order for him to study conducting with Karl Osterreicher at the Vienna Academy of Music. He has previously served as the chief conductor and artistic director of the Spanish Radio/Television Orchestra and Choir in Madrid as well as the music director for the Hamburg Symphony, the Stuttgart Philharmonic, Vienna’s Tonnkunsterorchester, and the Anhaltisches Theater in Dessau, Germany. He lives in Portland with his wife, Raffaela, and sons Luca and Claudio.


Sarah Kwak


The Oregon Symphony welcomed Concertmaster Sarah Kwak to the orchestra in August 2012, when she performed as soloist on Carlos Gardel’s Tango on the annual Waterfront Park Bowl concert program. Since then, she has performed to critical acclaim throughout Oregon. Hailed as a “world-class soloist,” Kwak is renowned for her “lyrical depth, thoughtful phrasing, myriad shadings of tone, and easy technical prowess.” After her concerto debut with the Oregon Symphony, the Oregonian said she “tore it up in a performance as dazzling as any recent star guest soloist.”

Sarah joined the Oregon Symphony after serving as first associate concertmaster in the Minnesota Orchestra from 1988 to 2012 and as that orchestra’s acting concertmaster from January 2010 to September 2011. Kwak, a 2008 McKnight Artist Fellowship winner, has been soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Houston Symphony, and Curtis Chamber Orchestra, and she has toured internationally with the Casa Verde Trio, including a three-and-a-half-week tour of China. She was a founding member of the Rosalyra String Quartet, which made its New York debut in 1996 and was awarded a McKnight Artist Fellowship in 2000. The first artist ever to capture all three memorial awards at the Washington International Competition, Kwak also won the 1989 WAMSO Young Artist Competition. She has served on the faculty of Princeton University and at the University of Nevada at Reno.

She has participated in the Marlboro Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest Winter Festival, Portland Piano International Summer Festival, Pensacola Festival, Pittsburgh Summerfest, Bargemusic of New York, Festival Mozart in France, and the Siletz Bay and Astoria festivals. She is the concertmaster of the Oregon Bach Festival and has toured with Asia Philharmonic Orchestra under Myung-Whun Chung. In addition, she has served as guest concertmaster with the Utah Symphony.

Born in Boston and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, Kwak entered Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute at 12, studied briefly at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik, and graduated from Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music in 1983. Among her teachers were Joseph Sivo, Ivan Galamian, and Szymon Goldberg.

Kwak is a founding member of Classical Up Close, a non-profit organization whose mission is to present free chamber music concerts in neighborhoods around the metro area and to make classical music accessible to all.


The Percussion Collective Robert van Sice


With this concert, The Percussion Collective Robert van Sice makes their debut with the Oregon Symphony.

At the pinnacle of his legendary career, performer and pedagogue Robert van Sice has assembled a stunning collection of young artists who are reinventing the concert experience. The Percussion Collective transcends the medium of percussion through uncommon performance experiences that surprise and engage audiences at a profound emotional level. The hallmarks of van Sice’s musical approach – precise execution, sonic refinement, and dynamic onstage communication – are all on display in the most vivid manner to date. Drawing from an incomparably rich bouquet of talent, The Percussion Collective flexes in size offering exquisitely curated programs for an array of venues and settings. The fabulously successful ten-concert inaugural tour of the United States in the spring of 2018 featured the first performances of the newly commissioned Seaborne, an immersive multimedia work by Emmy Award-winning composer Garth Neustadter and videographer Kjell van Sice that celebrates the beauty of our world’s oceans.

The 2018/19 season began with the group’s first tour to China, featuring a performance of Seaborne in the new Shanghai Symphony Hall. Other highlights will include performances of the first orchestral showcase for The Collective, Drum Circles by Christopher Theofanidis. The work was commissioned by a consortium including the Aspen Music Festival, Baltimore Symphony, Colorado Symphony, and the Oregon Symphony. The Percussion Collective will also be presented by the Yellow Barn Music Festival in Dallas, performing Martin Bresnick's Caprichos Enfaticos, based on Francisco Goya's etchings depicting the horrors of war.

The roster of The Percussion Collective includes some of the world’s most esteemed and dynamic young voices in the art form. Featuring players from Europe, Asia, and the US, this new generation of virtuosi represent the leading edge of innovation in concert conception and performance.