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Westlake Village Symphony Closes Season with “A Tale of Two Prodigies”

Concert features music by Franz Liszt, Camille Saint-Saëns, & Franz Schubert, as well as solo pianist Jason Stoll, organist Eric Kinsley, & guest conductor Ryan Reeson

Westlake Village, Calif. (May 13, 2019) – The Westlake Village Symphony’s (WVS) 13th season comes to a powerful conclusion on Saturday, June 7th, 2019, on the campus of California Lutheran University (CLU), with a performance of major symphonic works and accomplished guest artists. The program includes Franz Liszt’s innovative Piano Concerto No. 1 in Eb, featuring solo pianist Jason Stoll, and the spirited “Bachannale” from Camille Saint-Saëns’s Samson e Dalila, led by WVS associate conductor Ryan Reeson. The evening also includes Franz Schubert’s tantalizing “Unfinished” Symphony in B minor, and closes with the majestic finale to Saint-Saëns’s “Organ” Symphony No. 3 in C minor, with CLU’s very own Dr. Eric Kinsley as solo organist.

The performance takes place at 7:30 p.m. in CLU’s Samuelson Chapel, 165 Chapel Lane, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360. Select guest artists will join Music Director Paul Piazza for a pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are available for advance purchase on our website at www.westlakevillagesymphony.com and at the door 45 minutes before the performance. Tickets are $10 for general admission and free for students and children.

Westlake Village Symphony Presents: A Tale of Two Prodigies

  • Saturday, June 7th, 2019 at 7:30pm
  • Pre-concert talk beginning at 6:45pm with Music Director Paul Piazza
  • CLU Samuelson Chapel, 165 Chapel Lane, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
  • Camille Saint-Saëns: “Bachannale” from Samson e Dalila
  • Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in Eb
  • Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B minor, “Unfinished”
  • Camille Saint-Saëns: Finale from Symphony No. 3 in C minor, “Organ”
  • Paul Piazza, conductor
  • Jason Stoll, solo piano
  • Eric Kinsley, solo organ
  • Ryan Reeson, guest conductor

A Tale of Two Prodigies highlights the musical relationship between two of the greatest youthful talents the musical world has ever seen, Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) & Franz Liszt (1811-1886), framed by the subtle presence of a prodigious musical godfather, Franz Schubert (1797-1828).

Samson e Delila (one of Camille Saint-Saëns’s most famous compositions, and his only opera regularly performed today) would not have existed without the patronage of Franz Liszt, who encouraged his young friend Camille to ignore skeptics and complete work on his nascent opera after a series of critical disappointments. Liszt conducted the opera’s premiere, including the suggestive and high-spirited Bachannale at the beginning of the Act III. In this well-known excerpt, the triumphant Philistines celebrate their seeming-victory over Samson & the Israelites with a raucous festival. A mysterious oboe solo leads to rhythmic dances in the strings & woodwinds, followed by a lush string melody recalling the passionate final embraces of the title characters. Finally, the orchestra picks up momentum in the French horns and timpani as it crashes towards the final bars.

Piano Concerto No. 1 in Eb was one of Franz Liszt’s first grand experiments in melody, formal structure, and color, written in two stages across a span of 26 years. When first writing the work, the teenage Liszt was already regarded as a prodigy of composition, having works published alongside those of Beethoven, Schubert, and others as young as 11 years old. When finishing the work in 1854, Liszt was regarded as the greatest piano virtuoso to ever live, the self styled “Paganini of the piano”. In this work, the piano concerto is treated as a symphony in four movements without pause. A heroic, yet strange main melody in the orchestra is treated in traditional sonata form, followed by gorgeous melodies in the strings and solo clarinet through the second movement. The third movement features a triangle solo, an uncommon instrument in serious music of the mid-1800s which caused the critic Eduard Hanslick to derisively title the work, Liszt’s “Triangle Concerto”. Finally, the fourth movement ties all of the previous themes together in a triumphant march, with thundering emissions from the solo piano.

Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony exhibits the many characteristics that made him an unwitting musical “Godfather” to the later endeavors of Liszt and Saint-Saëns. Entrancing, song-like melodies interweave throughout the symphony, beginning with a famously haunting line in the basses and followed by agitated strings reminiscent of the opening of Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony. An innovated formal structure holds many melodies in the air in both parts of this two movement work, much like the finale of Liszt’s First Piano Concerto. Sadly, modern audiences will never hear the uncompleted final two movements of this symphony (with sketches existing of a planned third movement), though his surviving music and the influence he exerted on future composers is a rich legacy in itself.

The concert concludes with a blast of organs, trumpets, and drums in the finale from Saint-Saëns’s magnificent “Organ” Symphony. Saint-Saëns dedicated the full work to his friend and patron Franz Liszt, who passed away only a few weeks after its premiere. In this work, the historical legacy and possibilities of the organ are embodied with rich orchestral textures, traditionally styled fugues, and celestial melodies disenthralled from earthly rhythms. A final orchestral fanfare wraps up the concert and with it, the 2018-19 concert season of the Westlake Village Symphony.

About the Westlake Village Symphony

The Westlake Village Symphony is a nonprofit orchestra comprised of community members and local music professionals with a common goal of providing exposure to the arts through concerts and educational programs. The Westlake Village Symphony began as the Amgen Orchestra, founded in 2006 by a group of local musicians and Amgen employees with varying musical backgrounds and training. Later, the orchestra joined the Pacific Pearl Music Association (PPMA). In 2013, the ensemble was renamed to the Westlake Village Symphony (WVS) to reflect its increasingly diverse repertoire and visibility within the community, and in 2016, WVS became an independent 501c nonprofit organization.

About the Artists

Music Director Paul Piazza is a native of Southern California with a full schedule as a conductor, vocalist, trumpeter, and music educator. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, studying trumpet with Craig Morris and conducting with Gary Green. Paul has a wide range of musical interests and has shared the stage with some of the world’s greatest musical artists, including conductor Michael Tilson-Thomas, pianist Jeremy Denk, and soprano Laura Aiken. Paul has conducted in performance a number of prestigious ensembles including the Riverside Philharmonic, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, and the Grammy-Prize winning Diamond Bar High School Symphony Orchestra. As a music educator, he has worked for well known music programs such as the Idyllwild Arts Academy Summer Program, as well as delivered guest lectures on music appreciation and aesthetics for Los Angeles Pierce College’s Encore program. Paul currently holds the positions of Music Director with the Westlake Village Symphony and Assistant Conductor with the Riverside Philharmonic.

Southern Californian pianist Jason Stoll has garnered many praises and awards for his performances throughout his career thus far. Concert highlights for the upcoming 2018-2019 season include solo recitals and chamber music across the United States, and the U.S. premiere of Benjamin Britten’s Rondo Concertante for piano and strings. Past concert highlights include a number of solo recitals throughout his native California, New York, Toronto and orchestral appearances with the Miami Music Festival Orchestra, the Westlake Village Symphony, the California State University, Northridge Symphony, the York Symphony Orchestra, and the Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Stoll has also competed internationally and was named a Semi-finalist in the 2015 Dublin International Piano Competition and Finalist in the 2013 American Paderewski Piano Competition. Mr. Stoll holds degrees from California State University, Northridge, the Juilliard School, and the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Currently, Mr. Stoll is a piano instructor and lecturer at California State University, Northridge, and is also a freelance pianist, masterclass presenter and adjudicator throughout the Los Angeles area. Apart from pianistic activites, Mr. Stoll is a fan of the NBA, professional tennis, juggling, bowling, and ping-pong.

Eric Kinsley is a performing artist, recording artist, writer, and educator. Eric pursued his Doctorate degree at the Manhattan School of Music under the mentorship of Dr. Kenneth Cooper. He has been a member of the New York Contemporary Music Band, Pacific Classical Winds, and the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra. He has received grants in early and contemporary music from The Nathanael Endowment of the Arts, New York Harpsichord Society, and the Sylvia Marlow Foundation. He has performed and recorded at the Discoteca Di Stato in Rome. In addition he has broadcast on Public Radio and television. He has worked with and performed premieres of the music of John Cage, Milton Babbitt, Morton Feldman, Steve Reich, Miguel del Aguilla, Andrea Tabacchi,Libby Larson and Steven Mosko. He has recorded works by JS Bach on Cantaur label. He has also recorded works for duo portative organ. Eric serves as the Director of Music Organist at Saint Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Thousand Oaks.

Ryan Reeson is a versatile conductor and composer with a passion for creative collaboration. As a composer, Reeson has had works performed by many ensembles, most notably by the Miami Frost Chorale, 2014 Colorado ACDA choir and members of the Cleveland Orchestra. His choral music has been performed across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Reeson is an active arranger, with clients including the Illinois Symphony and the creative team of the play “The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood”, which has received well over 1,000 performances internationally and was optioned to be adapted into a musical by publisher Samuel French. In addition to concert works, Reeson composes and orchestrates music for film and other media. He has conducted the Rochester Philharmonic, Riverside Philharmonic and many others. He has served as an Assistant Conductor for the Chamber Orchestra at St. Matthews, the Southeast Symphony, the Ars Flores Symphony and the Meadows Symphony Orchestra. Reeson graduated with honors from the University of Miami Frost School of Music with a degree in Music Composition and holds a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from the Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, TX. He is currently music director of the Lancaster Community Orchestra and Associate Conductor of the Westlake Village Symphony.

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