Do Savannnah

Savannah Philharmonic opening night features giants of orchestral repertoire

  • Savannah Philhamonic opens its new season Sept. 16 with “The Thousand and One Nights.” (Photo by Geoff L Johnson)
 

Savannah Philharmonic opening night features giants of orchestral repertoire

05 Sep 2017

Internationally admired pianist Margaret Singer knows exactly what she’ll play Sept. 16 at the Lucas Theatre for the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra’s opening night concert.

“I’ll be playing the beautiful Mozart Piano Concerto 21,” Singer says. “It has the second movement which was used as the background music for the movie ‘Elvira Madigan.’

“I had to laugh,” she says. “A friend of mine said he was looking at the movie and thought the fellow who wrote the score was wonderful. At the end, he saw it was Mozart.”

Opening night

The Savannah Philharmonic will kick off its 2017-18 season with “Opening Night: The Thousand and One Nights.”

Artistic Director and Conductor Peter Shannon and the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.” Singer will perform Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 21.”

“This season is flanked by giants of the orchestral repertoire, Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Scheherazade’ and Beethoven’s monumental 9th symphony,” Shannon says. “In our first concert of the season, concertmaster Sinisa Ciric will shine in ‘Scheherazade.’

“We begin the concert with the brilliant ‘Bartered Bride Overture,’ which is thrilling and dangerously fast. And I get to enjoy the playing of one of my closest music friends from Germany, Margaret Singer.

“Margaret is from the States but we have known each other for decades in Germany,” Shannon says. “What a joy it will be to hear her share that German musical heritage with Savannah audiences when she plays Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, famous as the ‘Elvira Madigan’ concerto.”

Learning the keys

Singer started taking piano lessons just before she turned 6.

“My mother played also, and thought it was important for me to learn to read before I started piano lessons,” she says. “At 10, I played a solo recital with a little Haydn sonata and some Bach pieces.”

While attending a music summer camp in Eureka Springs, Ark., Singer was involved in a piano production of “Hansel and Gretel” on piano.

Singer began her career as an accompanist at the age of 12 when she accompanied more than 65 performances of Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” on tour throughout the Southwest.

“We were being accompanied by an older man, but he wasn’t able to go on tour because of work,” Singer says. “The director asked me how long it would take to learn the score.

“We’d go around to schools in the Southwest. I was in eighth grade at the time. I was able to learn the score.

“Now, looking back, it was a wonderful experience,” Singer says. “The best thing about music is that one sees so many things one wouldn’t otherwise. It’s very broadening.”

After graduating from Oklahoma College for Women, Singer continued her education on a Fulbright grant at the Royal Academy of Music in London. There, she was awarded prizes both as soloist and accompanist.

Upon returning to America, Singer moved to New York City, where she accompanied many vocal studios, eventually serving as assistant conductor at the New York City Opera. This was followed by engagements with the San Francisco Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia and Washington Opera.

In 1986, Singer moved to Hannover, Germany, where she was engaged as Solorepetitorin at the local Opera Company. She has also served as artistic assistant to Prof. Ulf Hoelscher, noted German violinist, and led the Opera Department at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.

From the heart

With a repertoire of more than 70 operas, Singer has played in productions with conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Julius Rudel, Giuseppe Patane and many more.

“I love opera,” she says. “Singers have a special place in my heart, and I have a lot of love in my heart for them.”

Music was such an important part of Singer’s life, she always knew she would be a professional pianist.

“I didn’t decide, it just had to be, that’s all,” she says. “I did play around for a time with being a psychiatrist. Psychology has a lot to do with what we do.

“I got offered a job. I was on an audition tour with two friends who were singers.

“I wasn’t looking for job at all,” Singer says. “It had gone through my mind once that if anything came up, I would look at it.”

The auditions were held and Singer caught the notice of the music director.

“I accompanied my friend and the music director came over to me, who offered me a job,” Singer says. “I really liked Jung, who said if something comes unbidden, consider it.

“So I took the job for one year to see if I liked it,” she says. “I decided I did like it and I’ve been there ever since.”

Season nine in Savannah

Under the direction of Shannon and Executive Director Terri O’Neil, the Savannah Philharmonic’s ninth season will feature performances spanning from the opening concert on Sept. 16 to the season finale on May 5.

Singer has been to Savannah several times.

“Peter Shannon put on an opera and brought me to do the musical preparation,” she says. “I was there a period of two weeks.

“I’ve been through other times. One time, I bought two prints by Ray Ellis. I have them in my hallway,” Singer says. “Savannah is never far from my thoughts.”

Singer is ready to come back for another visit.

“I’m very much looking forward to coming to Savannah again,” she says. “I know the theater and I’m already looking forward to being there. I’m very excited.”

IF YOU GO

What: Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Opening Night: The Thousand and One Nights”

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16

Where: Lucas Theatre for the Arts, 32 Abercorn St.

Tickets: $15-$80 at savannahboxoffice.com

Info: savannahphilharmonic.org, 912-232-6002 or info@savannahphilharmonic.org

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