Get to Know Guest Conductor Ludovic Morlot

Ludovic MorlotSeattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot appears as guest conductor of the Kansas City Symphony this weekend, Jan. 20-22 in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The program includes Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring guest pianist George Li, as well as Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6. Tickets start at $25. To secure your seats, call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or select seats online here.

Can you tell us about the program that now includes Beethoven’s “Pastoral”?
This is a program of great Romantic nature, from the gorgeous melodies and harmonies of Chopin to Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony, which is all about feelings. Beethoven’s genius is to create in us a journey of emotions as we awake feelings that we associate with situations and landscapes that we have been exposed to in the past. This brings back nostalgic memories, moments of tenderness and smiles, but also dark and fearful thoughts. The Symphony invites us to explore the widest range of emotions within us and to connect them with our own experiences.

Have you conducted the Kansas City Symphony in Helzberg Hall before, or will this be your first time?
This is my debut with the Kansas City Symphony, and my first visit to Kansas City.

When did you first start studying music? When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? Did you always want to become a conductor or did you have plans to become a professional violinist?
I started playing violin at age 6 and was quite fond of ensemble playing from an early age. Orchestra, chamber music, new music ensembles. This is what led me to contemplate conducting as I would always study the scores to understand the role I played with the violin part. My love for architecture also made me curious about analyzing musical scores and understanding the form of a piece of music.

I believe the real moment I realized I wanted to be a professional musician came around the age of 12 when I started attending more and more concert and opera performances.

What advice do you give to aspiring music students?
Be exposed to as many different mentors and ideas as possible in order to find your own voice. Then, believe in that voice and spread your musical stories with great passion.

After Kansas City, what’s next in your schedule? What are other upcoming highlights for you this season — both guest conducting and with Seattle Symphony?
I will fly back to Seattle to perform Ives’ New England Holidays Symphony alongside Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with Emanuel Ax, as well as continuing a recording project of the music of George Perle. Then, I travel to Paris for concerts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

There are many highlights coming up: Ravel’s opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges, Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony, Ligeti’s Requiem, as well as concerts in Minnesota, Helsinki and Istanbul.

When you’re not traveling, preparing for upcoming concerts or the like, do you have pastimes you enjoy in your down time?
I love playing tennis and boating, and there’s almost always a book in my hands. And of course, spending time with my family.

Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s a pleasure and privilege to be sharing music with the Kansas City Symphony this week! I’m very curious to get to know the city.


Ludovic MorlotGuest conductor Ludovic Morlot leads the Kansas City Symphony in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (featuring guest pianist George Li) and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral” this weekend, Jan. 20-22. To secure tickets, contact the Symphony Box Office weekdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at (816) 471-0400 or select seats online here.

 

 

 

 

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Get to Know Guest Pianist George Li

George LiGeorge Li performs as soloist alongside the Kansas City Symphony in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (Jan. 20-22). To secure tickets, contact the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or visit kcsymphony.org. Also on the program, led by guest conductor Ludovic Morlot, is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral.”

Tell us about yourself. When did you start playing the piano? When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician?

I have lived all my life in Massachusetts, so I guess I’m a Boston boy through and through! My parents originated from China, so I was raised in a hybrid of sorts from American and Chinese culture. I started playing the piano when I was 4 and a half, and my passion for music was ignited before that, partly because I was exposed to classical music a lot. Neither of my parents play an instrument, but I had grown used to my sister practicing the piano, and in addition, my mom would take us to concerts in Boston, and turn on the classical music radio station before going to bed.

I started wanting to become a professional musician after I played a concert with orchestra, performing Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto. Somehow, I felt differently playing on stage that day, as if I had entered a different world. After the performance, many people came up to me to say how affected they were by my playing. I had no idea music could be so powerful, and from then on, I wanted to continue making music for people.  

You’ll be performing Chopin’s First Piano Concerto with the Kansas City Symphony. What do you love about the work?

The piece is indeed very dear to me, as I’m sure it is for everyone else as well! There is of course the element of the many beautiful arching and singing melodies, but for me, I love the piece especially because of its depth. It shows that Chopin is much more than a composer who creates beautifully sweet and soothing melodies; granted, he does this with ease, but there is also the passionate, stormy and tragic side to him. There is so much nuance and finesse to his music, and hopefully I’ll be able to show that this weekend!

Beyond Chopin, who are your other favorite composers and why?

This is a tough question for me, because I try to form a solid relationship with every composer that I play and every piece that I’m working on. Very often, I learn to love the piece and the composer that I play, but I feel a stronger bond with composers like Beethoven, Schumann and Rachmaninoff — all geniuses in their own right.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to read, and am a sports fanatic! The first sport I felt passionate about was — and still is — baseball, and now my interest in sports has grown to soccer, football and basketball as well. I only play soccer nowadays, and just in small groups to avoid any injuries.

What are other highlights of your 2016-17 season?

I played with Maestro Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic at the opening gala, and also made my orchestral debut in the Berlin Philharmonie, both of which were really exciting. Coming up, I will make my debuts with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

Where are you headed next after Kansas City?

I will go to Barcelona next to play Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Maestro Gergiev.


George Li
George Li

To hear George Li perform Chopin’s First Piano Concerto with the Kansas City Symphony on the Jan. 20-22 concerts, select seats online or call the Symphony Box Office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays at (816) 471-0400.

Kansas City Symphony Announces Guest Conductor, Repertoire Change for Jan. 20-22 Concerts

Ludovic Morlot. Photo credit Lisa-Marie Mazzucco.
Ludovic Morlot. Photo credit Lisa-Marie Mazzucco.

Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot to replace guest conductor Asher Fisch and the Symphony will perform Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony in place of Brahms and Wagner

Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot will step in for guest conductor Asher Fisch for the Kansas City Symphony’s upcoming Classical Series concerts on Jan. 20-22. Additionally, the new program is:

CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring pianist George Li
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral”

Morlot has served as music mirector at the Seattle Symphony since 2011, and he is a frequent guest conductor as top orchestras around the world. Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London and then at the Royal College of Music as recipient of the Norman del Mar Conducting Fellowship. He chairs the orchestra conducting studies at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle.

Tickets for “Chopin with Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’” start at $25 and are available from kcsymphony.org or by calling the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.