Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorale




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Sunday, April 20th, 2014

VSO Orchestra Series Concert VI - Genius of Gershwin


April 3, 2014
8:00 pm
Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance

Dr. Peter Dabrowski, Music Director & Conductor
Featuring James Dick, piano

VSO Guest Artist - James Dick - Orchestra Series VI

The Valley Symphony Orchestra presents the closing symphonic concert of the 2013-14 season: The Genius of Gershwin. 

March 14, 2014, McAllen —The Valley Symphony Orchestra presents “The Genius of Gerswhin,” the sixth and final symphonic concert of the season on Thursday April 3rd, at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance at 8pm, where they will welcome The San Juan Auto Luxury Guest Artist, James Dick, the internationally renowned concert pianist. In addition to music by Gershwin, the orchestra will also interpret Suites from Spartacus by the acclaimed Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian. 

Gershwin’s concerto for piano in F Major was one of his first large-scale concert works. Commissioned by Walter Damrosh and the New York Philharmonic in April 1925, the three-movement concerto surpassed the scope of the successful Rhapsody in Blue, which premiered the previous year. Since the solo concerto has been a hallmark of classical composers, Gershwin took on the challenge of not only composing the piece, but also orchestrating it, a task that most successful composers of Broadway shows and popular music often delegated—Gershwin himself had entrusted the orchestration of his Rhapsody to Ferde Grofé. While the formal and thematic links between the movements of the Concerto in F display Gershwin’s grasp of concert music design and aesthetics, jazz influences dominate his style; thus, the piano concerto is approachable by erudite and amateur audiences alike.

James Dick will join the VSO as the soloist for Gershwin’s concerto. Originally from Kansas, he studied piano at the University of Texas at Austin under Dalies Frantz. He also studied with Sir Clifford Curzon in England as a Fulbright Scholar. Dick received distinctions at the prestigious Tchaikovsky, Busoni, and Leventritt International Competitions. From there he enjoyed a successful career playing at renowned venues throughout Europe and the United States, including Carnegie Hall, and Alice Tully Hall in New York City, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Le Théâtre du Chatelet and La Salle Gaveau in Paris, the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, the Kennedy Center and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; and Orchestral Hall in Chicago.

His performing career includes collaborations with the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the National Symphony. He has worked with acclaimed conductors such as Eugene Ormandy, John Barbirolli, Lorin Maazel, Robert Spano, and Christopher Hogwood. Dick is also a distinguished chamber musician who has been featured by the Cleveland, Tokyo, Parisii, Ravel, Debussy, and Cassatt quartets, as well as the Dorian and Moragues wind quintets. He has shared the stage with world-class artists like Yo-Yo Ma, Regis Paquier, Young Uck Kim, Raphael Hillyer, Andrew Marriner, and many others. As a pianist Dick has championed new music and commissioned pieces by Benjamin Lees, Dan Welcher, Malcom Hawkins, and Chinary Ung. He premiered “Flight of Passage: From Silent Sun to Starry Night” by Claude Baker and performed it in New York, Paris, and London.

Aside his international performing career—recognized with the distinction of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture, and the title of Honorary Associate of London’s Royal Academy of Music—James Dick has greatly impacted the musical arts in Texas. He established the Round Top Festival Institute in Round Top, Texas, to nurture the talent of young musicians. Its 210-acre campus hosts nearly 100 young musicians each year. For these and many other endeavors, Dick was awarded the Texas Medal of the Arts.

After the featured collaboration of James Dick and the Valley Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Peter Dabrowski will lead the orchestra in a performance of Suites from the ballet Spartacus by Aram Khachaturian. Completed in 1954, the ballet is inspired on the story of the slave revolts against the Roman Republic of the first century B.C.E. The plot centers on the fate of Spartacus, the slave leader who was betrayed by some of his followers. Khatchaturian musically depicts the story by associating the Romans with the military sounds of percussion and brass. On the other hand, the heroic slaves are portrayed through music inspired by the folklore of the composer’s country of origin.

Don’t miss, “The Genius of Gershwin.” The concert highlights great symphonic music from the United States and Europe, each selection with roots in vernacular traditions of the composer’s respective countries. The masterful playing that James Dick brings to the concert reminds us the great quality of live music that the VSO brings to the Valley. If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, do so as soon as possible to get the best seats available. Also consider purchasing a season subscription (or renewing it if you’re a current subscriber) so that you may continue to enjoy the VSO through their upcoming season. Our local orchestra offers a variety of music, including great classical masterpieces, jazz compositions, choral works, popular music from broadway and Hollywood and hosts world-renowned soloists. With your season subscription you won’t miss a performance.

Tickets start at $20 for Back House, $35 for Front House and $45 for Orchestra Level tickets.  Senior, student and group discounts are available.  Call, click or visit the VSO Box Office, located in the Chase (Neuhaus) Tower, 200 South 10th St., Suite 104 in McAllen--open weekdays from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  You may call the VSO Box Office at (956) 661-1615 or visit us on the web at

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