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Andrew Litton and the North Carolina Symphony Explore “The Planets” | Mar 4-6

litton1Majesty is the order of the evening when acclaimed guest conductor Andrew Litton leads the North Carolina Symphony in Gustav Holst’s masterwork, The Planets, March 4-6. Soloist  also commands the stage with a virtuoso rendering of Grieg’s Piano Concerto, while Vaughan Williams’s Overture to The Wasps rounds out a powerhouse symphonic lineup.

The concert takes place first at Memorial Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Thursday, March 4. Two weekend performances follow at Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh’s Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Friday and Saturday, March 5-6. All concerts begin at 8:00 p.m.

Andrew Litton, considered one of America’s finest working conductors, has led programs for the Minnesota Orchestra and served as Conductor Laureate of Britain’s Bournemouth Orchestra. He was the first American to hold the music director position with Norway’s 240-year-old Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

Litton’s appearance with the North Carolina Symphony in 2007 was greeted with widespread critical acclaim: the Raleigh News and Observer praised the seasoned conductor for his “precision, energy and dramatic flair.”

Those virtues will be essential this time around. Featuring some of classical music’s most recognizable melodies, The Planets has colored—and times, been prominently featured in—numerous musical works and film scores since its premiere in 1918. It remains a potent blend of the two interests that dominated Holst’s creative life: a rigorous British nationalism and a wide-ranging spirituality.

“Holst’s music reaches into the unknown,” said his friend and classmate at the Royal College of Music, Vaughn Williams, “but it never loses touch with humanity.”

The Carolina Women’s Choir will also be featured in the piece’s final movements.

WilliamWolframBalancing the evening is Grieg’s equally successful Piano Concerto, “a sweet, spirited piece,” says North Carolina Symphony Vice President of Artistic Operations Scott Freck, that is “warm, rich, romantic, lyrical and very tuneful.”

A favorite among the Norwegian composer’s orchestral works, the Piano Concerto solidified Grieg’s international reputation and remains a prominent feature in the piano repertoire. It is perfectly complemented by Wolfram, a virtuoso of romantic-era compositions whose technical wizardry has been praised by The New York Times as “flabbergasting,” with a strength “tempered by an easy poetry.”

Regular tickets to these Classical Series performances in Raleigh and Chapel Hill range from $30 to $45. Meymandi Concert Hall is located in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, NC 27601. Memorial Hall is located on the campus of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, on E. Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

For tickets and more information, visit the North Carolina Symphony Web site at or call 919.733.2750.Concert/Event Listing:

North Carolina Symphony
The Planets

Andrew Litton, conductor
William Wolfram, piano

March 4, 2010, 8pm
Memorial Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, N.C.

March 5-6, 2010, 8pm
Meymandi Concert Hall, Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Raleigh, N.C.

Program Listing:
North Carolina Symphony
The Planets
Andrew Litton, conductor
March 4-6, 2010

Overture to The Wasps
Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958)

Concerto in A minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 16
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
I. Allegro molto moderato
II. Adagio
III. Allegro moderato molto e marcato
William Wolfram, piano

The Planets, Op. 32
Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
I. Mars, the Bringer

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