News & Press
Norton Center begins 2012 with the bold, powerful and robustly spirited St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra
Jan 13, 2012
DANVILLE, KY— On Friday, January 13 Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts will host the bold, powerful and robustly spirited St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Roman Leontiev and starring acclaimed pianist Alexander Pirozhenko.
Founded in the years following World War II, the Orchestra has achieved broad acknowledgement and popularity throughout Russia and continues to build a devoted audience. With a diverse range of programs, from the Baroque to music of the 20th century to newly commissioned compositions, the Orchestra tours regularly throughout the world. Le Monde in Paris hailed, “The Orchestra was sensational!”
For the Orchestra’s Norton Center debut, the program will include Richard Wagner’s “Prelude” and “Liebestod” from the Opera Tristan und Isolde; Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19; and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.
"The St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra’s program is sure to be popular for lovers of strong orchestral music and piano concertos," said Norton Center executive director Steve Hoffman. "The United States tour of this beloved orchestra has been highly anticipated in their own country with congratulatory letters from Russia’s International Foundation for Urban Culture and St. Petersburg’s Pushkin District administration. Having a Russian orchestra perform at the Norton Center continues our own tradition of bringing artistic excellence to the Bluegrass region.”
For the past ten years the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra has become an ensemble with unlimited musical possibilities including the regular commissioning and performances of new compositions, a testament to the high standard of the Orchestra, which commissions many new works written especially for the Orchestra each season. The Orchestra has a special relationship with several local composers in St. Petersburg but also collaborates and premieres works of foreign composers, who have dedicated many of their works to the Orchestra.
The St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra tours regularly all over the world, including concerts in Europe, China and Japan and many of Russia’s legendary and most distinguished soloists and conductors have worked with the Orchestra over the past several decades including Montserrat Caballé, Sviatoslav Richter, Elena Obrastsova, Yevgeni Nesterenko, Yuri Egorov and Viktor Tretyakov.
Roman Leontiev, Music Director and Chief Conductor of the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, is widely regarded as one of the preeminent Russian conductors of his generation. Mr. Leontiev’s career has been accented by distinguished engagements throughout Russia and Western Europe since his graduation in 1981 with highest honors from the Glinka Conservatory of Music in St. Petersburg, where his mentors included the People’s Artists of Russia (Russia’s highest cultural honor) Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Dr. A.M. Katz. Upon his graduation from the Glinka Conservatory of Music, Mr. Leontiev was accepted as an apprentice to the St. Petersburg State Conservatory of Music, which is St. Petersburg’s leading conservatory, where he was accepted as a pupil of the People’s Artist of Russia, I.A. Mussin.
Mr. Leontiev’s first professional acclaim was received in 1985 upon being awarded the USSR State Medal of Excellence in Conducting for his leadership of the Moscow International Festival Orchestra, while still a student at the Glinka Conservatory of Music. This success was followed in 1986 when Mr. Leontiev was awarded a Special Award for Conducting at the Third Annual Russian National Folk Music Festival.
These honors led to Mr. Leontiev being engaged to conduct the leading orchestras of Russia including the Moscow State Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, and USSR State Symphony. The critical acclaim of these engagements led to Mr. Leontiev being invited to France to conduct that country’s greatest orchestras. Mr. Leontiev was invited to return to France to conduct a series of important concerts, which included appearances at the Palais des Congrès, Notre Dame Cathedral, and at the UNESCO Conference, which was broadcast nationally on French Television and Radio (ORTF). Mr. Leontiev’s additional European engagements included performances in Germany, Finland, and Sweden.
The success of these concerts led Mr. Leontiev to be invited to conduct the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra in the Bolshoi’s Great Hall, the Orchestra of the Mariinski Theatre, and the State Symphony Orchestra of St. Petersburg.
In 2002 Mr. Leontiev was named Music Director of the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, and in honor of this title was invited to lead the Orchestra in the world premiere of the work “Vladimirskaya Square” in commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of the founding of the City of St. Petersburg, Russia. That same year Mr. Leontiev was also named Principal Guest Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Konstants, Germany.
As Music Director of the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Leontiev has led the Orchestra in performances in the leading cities of Russia and this year leads the Orchestra on its inaugural trans-continental tour of the United States.
Joining the tour is guest pianist Alexander Pirozhenko, an artist who has the technical skills to do anything he wants with a piano; and what he wants to do is “sensitive, original, and brilliant," according to The Washington Post, who recently reviewed his DC debut at the Kennedy Center.
His international piano competition prizes include First Prize in the XXV Ettore Pozzoli International Piano Competition in Italy, First Prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York, First Prize in the XVI Ibiza International Piano Competition in Spain, First Prize in the 8th Newport International Piano Competition in Wales, and many more.
He has appeared on stages throughout the world, performing at such concert halls as the St. Petersburg Grand and Chamber Philharmonic Halls, Capella Concert Hall and Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, Moscow Conservatoire Small Hall, Paris Salle Alfred Cortot and UNESCO Concert Hall, Cologne Philharmonie, New York 92 Street Y (Kaufmann Hall) and Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, New Orleans Roussel Performance Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw Kleine Zaal, Geneva Palais des Nations, Zagreb Croatia Music Hall, Ljubljana Cankarjev dom, and Salzburg Mozarteum (Solitar) among many others.
Born on November 3, 1979, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Alexander Pirozhenko began his piano studies with Irina Saravayskaya at the age of 5 and studied with Marina Wolf at the Special Music School of the St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory. In 1998 he began studies with Prof. Alexander Sandler at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, graduating with highest honors in 2003 and completing postgraduate studies two years later. He also did postgraduate studies with Prof. Arie Vardi at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater Hannover. Since 2006, Mr. Pirozhenko has taught piano at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. He has given master classes in the USA, Ukraine and Italy, and served as a jury member of the international competitions in Spain and Ukraine.
In 2007, Alexander Pirozhenko's CD was released in Italy by the Ettore Pozzoli International Piano Competition.
The St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra concert begins at 8:00 PM in Newlin Hall.
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