NEWARK—On the final weekend of October, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jacques Lacombe leads the Orchestra in “Russian Tales,” a captivating program featuring Prokofiev’s dramatic Symphony No. 5 and Rachmaninoff’s lyrical Second Piano Concerto, performed by dynamic young pianist Dudana Mazmanishvili.
In a twist, the program opens with Roger Sessions’ The Black Maskers Suite; the late Princeton University professor’s work appears as part of the NJSO’s innovative New Jersey Roots Project, which highlights composers who were born in New Jersey or whose time in the Garden State influenced their artistic identity. Sessions’ suite ties in perfectly with the concert program’s Russian theme, as the work is based on a Russian play written at the turn of the 20th century.
Performances take place on Thursday, Oct. 28 (1:30 p.m.), and Friday, Oct. 29 (8 p.m.) at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark; Saturday, Oct. 30 (8 p.m.), at the State Theatre in New Brunswick and Sunday, Oct. 31 (3 p.m.), at the Community Theatre in Morristown. Classical Conversations begin one hour before the performances on Oct. 29 and 31; they are free to all ticket holders.
“I found The Black Maskers Suite intriguing because I like to craft concert programs around a unifying theme,” Lacombe says. “It’s not always necessary, but it can be nice to create a conceptual link between diverse works on a program. The fact that this piece is based on a Russian play made it perfect for the Russian Tales concert.
“When we decided to initiate the New Jersey Roots Project, Roger Sessions rose to the very top of the list. It’s interesting to realize that he is rarely played in the States—he is a very important man in New Jersey, especially in Princeton, and it was clear to me that we should include his work in the Project’s first season.”
Rachmaninoff also provides a connection between Russia and New Jersey—the prolific Russian composer moved to the Garden State in the 1920s. Mazmanishvili joins the NJSO to bring his brilliant second concerto to life.
“New Jersey audiences have not had the chance to hear Dudana before,” Lacombe says of the Georgian pianist, who has already garnered several international prizes. “I got to know her in Berlin last year, where she performed the Rachmaninoff for me. She is such a wonderful musician with such energy and passion—it is going to be a very moving performance.”
For more information on the New Jersey Roots Project, visit www.njsymphony.org/NJroots.
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey is a presenting sponsor of the Morristown Series.
Tickets range in price from $20 to $82 and are available for purchase online at www.njsymphony.org or by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476).
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