Grammy winner joins WPO for season opener

WARREN — A Grammy Award winner will join the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra for the opening concert of its 2021-22 season.

Classical guitarist Jason Vieaux will perform Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra for Sunday’s concert at First Presbyterian Church in Warren.

“This guy is one of the great guitar players, and he’s from right here,” guest conductor Michael Gelfand said. “He lives in Cleveland.”

Vieaux won a 2015 Grammy for best classical instrumental solo for his album “Play.” He has performed with more than 100 orchestras, including Cleveland, Toronto, Houston, Nashville, San Diego and Orchestra of St. Luke’s.

Earlier this year, Vieaux premiered “Four Points of Light,” which was written for him by jazz great Pat Metheny. Vieaux, who has taught at Cleveland Institute of Music since 1997, plans to release a solo Bach recording next year.

The guitarist originally was scheduled to perform with the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra for its 2020-21 season, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gelfand, who is conductor of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and a longtime member of the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, selected a new program around Vieaux’s performance.

“I decided since he is performing one of the preeminent and most famous and most Spanish guitar concertos, it made sense to do a program with all Spanish and Spanish-sounding music,” Gelfand said.

The concert falling so close to Hispanic Heritage Month also was an inspiration.

It will open with the intermezzo from Geronimo Gimenez’s “La Boda de Luis Alonso.”

“I wanted a good opener and the Gimenez is exactly that,” Gelfand said. “It’s an incredibly exciting piece that is sort of a virtuoso piece for the orchestra … It immediately transports the audience to Spain. It’s that kind of colorful piece.”

Other selections include the intermezzo from Enrique Granados’ “Goyescas” and “Capriccio Espagnol” by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

“The Granados is one of the most famous Spanish pieces, just a wonderfully Spanish-sounding piece,” Gelfand said. “This one the audience will know.”

Rimsky-Korsakov is from Russia, but it still fits the theme.

“This is a Russian composer writing about what it is like to be in Spain, his reflections from his travels and what he knows about Spain,” Gelfand said. “It’s written by a Russian composer, but it’s a terrific, Spanish-sounding piece.”

He also described it as a showcase for the talents of the orchestra.

“It’s a smorgasbord of virtuoso solos for every section of the orchestra,” Gelfand said. “The Warren Philharmonic is a wonderful orchestra. It’s like a thoroughbred. You’ve got to let them out and run, and this gives them something to run with. Not only will the audience enjoy it, but the orchestra will as well.”


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