Elgin Symphony Orchestrates a Coup Snagging Yo-Yo Ma
Gowen, Bill, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Bill Gowen Daily Herald Classical Music Critic
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra decided to shoot for the stars for its 50th anniversary season - and landed classical music's reigning superstar, cellist Yo-Yo Ma - for its season-opening gala concert at the Hemmens Theatre Sept. 17.
Being able to secure the services of Ma, winner of 12 Grammy Awards among his nearly 50 recordings (he is an exclusive artist for Sony Classical) is a major coup for the ESO, which announced its entire 50th anniversary season schedule Wednesday.
"We're just thrilled to death about Yo-Yo agreeing to join us," said Music Director Robert Hanson. "We feel fortunate that we were able to schedule him for a date for which we already had the hall booked. A lot of things had to come together. It's amazing."
Hanson gives credit to ESO Executive Director Michael Pastreich, who began his quest for Ma nearly two years ago.
"Michael convinced Yo-Yo that this was a good concert for him to make a commitment to - and you can imagine how busy his schedule is - he's booked far in advance," Hanson said. "He's in huge demand, and can pick and choose exactly what he wants to do."
Ma will play two works on the concert: Haydn's Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in C Major; and Tchaikovsky's "Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra." Hanson will also conduct the overture to Verdi's opera, "La Forza del Destino" and the 1919 suite from Stravinsky's "Firebird" ballet.
The entire 50th anniversary season has a "gala" look to it.
"I don't know if we've ever worked harder to put a season together," Hanson said. "But I think it's the strongest season we've put together."
Hanson believes that for such a special season, "... we needed to do the most substantial works written for orchestra in the history of the art. …