Long Beach Symphony Orchestra’s Classics Season Concludes With Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

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Canadian piano virtuoso Ian Parker joins Maestro Enrique Arturo Diemecke and the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra to conclude its 2012-2013 Classics Season on Saturday, June 1, with three monumental works of the 20th century: Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” (Variations), his classic piano piece “Rhapsody in Blue,” and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.

Parker, who performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto with LBSO in 2011, captivates audiences wherever he goes. He has appeared with orchestras throughout the U.S. and Canada, and has won top prizes at numerous piano competitions, including the 2001 CBC National Radio Competition, Canadian National Music Festival, the Corpus Christie International Competition, and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Competition. Heard regularly on CBC Radio, Mr. Parker has also appeared live on WQXR in New York.

The evening’s program begins with Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” variations, originally composed in 1930 for the musical Girl Crazy with lyrics by brother Ira. The piece has since become a jazz standard and is often a basis for new compositions and improvisations known to jazz musicians as the “Rhythm changes.”

Parker takes center stage for Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Written in 1924, the piece established Gershwin’s reputation as a serious composer and has since become one of the most popular of all American concert works. It was commissioned by jazz bandleader Paul Whiteman and conceived to convey “a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness…”

Concluding the concert is Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2. In Finland, this popular work with its grandiose finale was connected by some with the struggle for Finland’s independence, even being popularly dubbed the “Symphony of Independence,” as it was written at a time of Russian sanctions on Finnish language and culture.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.. Concertgoers are invited to stay for a post-concert reception with the musicians on the Terrace Theater Plaza.

Tickets to the concert are $20 to $89. Student rush tickets are available for $10 with valid I.D., 90 minutes prior to the performance. Group discounts are also available. For more information, call (562) 436-3203, or visit LBSO.org.

All LBSO Classics Concerts take place at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center in the Terrace Theater, 300 East Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach. Doors open at 6 p.m. Concertgoers are invited to enjoy live entertainment from a local music ensemble in the lobby prior to the concert, as well as a discussion of the evening’s works with CSULB music professor Roger Hickman at 6:30pm.

Music Director Enrique Arturo Diemecke brings an electrifying balance of passion, intellect and technique to his performances. Warmth, pulse, and spontaneity are all hallmarks of his conducting – conducting that has earned him an international reputation for performances that are riveting in their sweep and dynamism.

Read Maestro Diemecke’s full bio on the LBSO website.

Established in 1935, the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra began its 78th season in October 2012. Each year LBSO draws loyal audiences from the greater metro-coastal area to its six Classics concerts in the Terrace Theater, five Orchestra POPS! events in the Long Beach Arena and a holiday celebration concert in the Terrace Theater, plus intimate chamber music concerts at various locations in Long Beach. The Orchestra works with the Long Beach Unified School District to provide sequential, curriculum-based music education opportunities throughout the year. Through its comprehensive music education programs—including professional ensembles in elementary and middle schools and widely acclaimed Miller Foundation Symphony Concerts for Young People – the LBSO reaches more than 25,000 students a year.

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