NOKUTHULA NGWENYAMA Primal Message
EDVARD GRIEG Concerto in A minor for Piano & Orchestra, Op. 16
SERGEI PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5
Xian Zhang, conductor
Andrew von Oeyen, piano
This exciting program of Romantic, Neo-Classical, and contemporary works, guest conducted by New Jersey Symphony Music Director Xian Zhang, features Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, a work filled with the grandeur, heroism, satire, comedy, and lyricism of the complex era in which it was composed. The elegant and expressive pianist Andrew von Oeyen is guest soloist for Grieg’s only completed piano concerto—a work of driving, anthemic movements and a gorgeous adagio section, that has been popular from the moment it was first performed. Phoenix-based composer Nokuthula Ngwenyama composed Primal Message in 2020. This gripping fantasia, which opens the program, invites examination of human evolution.
About Xian Zhang
Xian Zhang is currently in her sixth season as Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. She also holds the positions of Principal Guest Conductor of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Conductor Emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi following a hugely successful period from 2009–2016 as their Music Director.
European engagements this season and the next include Philharmonia Orchestra (Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde), La Verdi in Milan, Spanish National Orchestra, the orchestra of Komische Oper in Berlin, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. In recent seasons, she has conducted the Orchestre National de Lyon at the Paris Philharmonie (Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique), and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France as part of La Folle Journée festival in Nantes.
Upcoming US engagements include returns to San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, NAC Ottawa, and Toronto Symphony orchestras. In the opera world last season, Xian Zhang will make her debut with The Metropolitan Opera in 2024. She has recently conducted Tosca for Cincinnati Opera. Previous opera engagements have included Nabucco with Welsh National Opera, Otello with Savonlinna Festival, La Traviata for Den Norske Opera (Oslo), La Bohème for English National Opera and La forza del destino with National Opera, Washington D.C.
Xian Zhang has previously served as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales and was the first female conductor to hold a titled role with a BBC orchestra. In 2002, she won first prize in the Maazel-Vilar Conductor’s Competition. She was appointed New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor in 2002, subsequently becoming their Associate Conductor and the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair.
About Andrew von Oeyen
Acclaimed internationally for his insightful, elegant artistry and brilliant technique, Andrew von Oeyen has established himself as one of the most captivating pianists of his generation.
Since his debut at age 16 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mr. von Oeyen has presented a wide range of concerto and solo repertoire at leading venues worldwide. He has appeared as soloist in the United States with such ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Grant Park Orchestra and Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. He has performed internationally with the Mariinsky Orchestra, Berlin Symphony, Prague Philharmonia, New Japan Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Marseille, Bilbao Symphony, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Slovenian Philharmonic and Slovak Philharmonic, among others.
Mr. von Oeyen has given recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall and Barbican Hall, the Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Boston’s Symphony Hall, Royce Hall in Los Angeles, Herbst Theater in San Francisco, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Tonhalle Zürich, Wiener Konzerthaus, the Royal Opera of Versailles, Teatro Olimpico in Rome, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, St. Petersburg’s Philharmonia, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, Sala São Paulo, Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Hanoi Opera, and in every major concert hall of Japan and South Korea. Festival appearances include Aspen, Ravinia, Grant Park, Mainly Mozart, Saratoga, Schubertiade, Spoleto USA, Brevard, Grand Teton, Chautauqua and the Mariinsky’s ‘Stars of the White Nights’.
Mr. von Oeyen’s engagements for the 2022-2023 season include performances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, a tour in Taiwan, and recitals throughout North America and Europe. Other recent invitations include the San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Magdeburg Philharmonie, Iceland Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic (Teatro Colón), Kraków Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, a debut in Kuwait City, and a return engagement at the Royal Opera House, Muscat, for the Sultan of Oman’s New Year’s Eve Gala.
Mr. von Oeyen has recorded for Warner Classics since 2017. His critically-acclaimed solo and concerto albums include repertoire ranging from Bach and Beethoven to Debussy, Gershwin, Ravel and Saint-Saëns. 2021 saw the release of his third album for Warner Classics, Bach-Beethoven, which was selected as an ‘Essential New Release’ by Gramophone magazine, topping streaming charts on various platforms (Apple Music, Spotify and IDAGIO). He previously recorded recital albums of Liszt, Debussy, and Stravinsky for the Delos label. Mr. von Oeyen has reached broad audiences through televised performances, including PBS’ A Capitol Fourth, America’s largest live concert telecast to millions around the globe from the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. von Oeyen, of German and Dutch origin, was born in the U.S. He began his piano studies at age 5 and made his solo orchestral debut at age 10. An alumnus of Columbia University and graduate of The Juilliard School, where his principal teachers were Herbert Stessin and Jerome Lowenthal, he also worked with Alfred Brendel and Leon Fleisher. He won the prestigious Gilmore Young Artist Award in 1999 and also took First Prize in the Léni Fé Bland Foundation National Piano Competition in 2001. Mr. von Oeyen lives in Los Angeles and Paris where he holds both U.S. and French nationality.
Note: Programs, dates, times, and prices are subject to change.