Guest conductor and piano virtuoso present night of Russian favorites at Utah Symphony

Published: Saturday, Oct. 15 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY – Garry Walker may hail from Scotland, but the guest conductor will take Utah Symphony patrons to the musical landscapes of Russia in a concert featuring Russian native Denis Kozhukhin as a soloist in Abravanel Hall on Oct. 21 and 22 at 8 p.m.

This will be Walker's debut with the Utah Symphony. The conductor has appeared with all of the BBC orchestras and a variety of other orchestras throughout the United Kingdom from the London Sinfonietta to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Outside of the U.K., he’s appeared with the likes of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg. He is also experienced in conducting operas, working with the English National Opera, among others.

The concert will begin with Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony No. 1. The dynamic composer is still known especially for his compositions for ballet, including “The Firebird” and “The Rite of Spring.” Time magazine named Stravinsky as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Following Stravinsky’s symphony, Kozhukhin will solo in Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Kozhukhin is an extremely talented pianist, with skill that has been compared to other Russian greats like Guilels, Richter and Horowitz. Among many honors, Kozhukhin took first prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition 2010, an international music competition considered to be the most prestigious in the world. The young musician is booked to perform in Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall, at the Chopin Festival in Poland, and with the Hungarian National Philharmonic this year.

The program will conclude with the headlining piece, Peter Tchaikovsky’s joyous Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, nicknamed the “Little Russian” because of its extensive use of folk songs from Ukraine, which at the time was frequently called “Little Russia.”

Walker and Toby Tolokan, vice president of artistic planning for the symphony, will present a free pre-concert lecture each night, 45 minutes prior to the start of the performance in the First Tier Room of Abravanel Hall.

Tickets are $17 to $51 and can be purchased by calling 801-355-2787, visiting the Abravanel Hall ticket office in person or going to www.usuo.org. For group discounts and season ticket holders, call 801-533-6683. Student discounts are also available. Ticket prices will increase $5 on the day of the performance.

Email: hbowler@desnews.com

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