The Savannah Philharmonic is continuing its outstanding season with a performance that expresses different dimensions of celebration through three dynamic works.
“They compliment each other,” said guest conductor Sameer Patel of the three pieces. “It would be like having a nice meal and feeling like those three different courses all fit nicely together even if they didn’t have a single same ingredient...They’re very colorful works. They’re very lush in their own individual way.” Patel was invited to conduct this program by Savannah Philharmonic’s Music and Artistic Director Designate Keitaro Harada. “He’s a wonderful conductor, an accomplished pianist—and a great friend of mine!” said Harada of Patel.
Patel began his career with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and later the San Diego Symphony. The accomplished conductor has guest conducted with orchestras around the world that number too many to list here. “I feel like every step along this path has been an important step for me,” said Patel. “When you think about this career as a journey, each of these steps along the way teach you something, so I’m so full of gratitude for the opportunity I have.”Get Savannah arts and culture news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and Dine newsletters
The exciting program will begin with a modern work by English composer Anna Clyne, “Masquerade”, which was first performed in 2013 at the BBC’s Proms. The piece was written as a tribute to the artists and musicians, and concert goers, that participate in the Proms. “I think as a conductor it is important to showcase that this is a living art form, both in the terms that we make live music, but there are also still composers out there writing today, that are doing things that are pushing the art form forward,” explained Patel. “This piece by Anna is a really lovely piece...It’s great to know that there are young composers out there who are really making a contribution to the music we experience as audiences.”
The second half of the program features Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major, Op. 100. “The big piece on the concert is Prokovfiev’s Symphony, which was written in the 1940s and has a wartime flavor to it,” said Patel. “It was at the time the Allies were just about to secure their victory over the Nazis and so this is an optimistic work. It’s virtuosic, big and bold, and a lot of fun for the orchestra.”
The center piece for the concert is Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 with guest soloist William Hagen. Hagen has been playing violin since he was 4 years old and, among his many distinguished instructors, studied at Julliard under Itzhak Perlman. Among Hagen’s many accomplishments, the 26-year-old virtuoso was awarded third prize at the Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition in 2015, making him the highest ranking American since 1985. Hagen, notably, performs on the 1732 “Arkwright Lady Rebecca Sylvan” Stradivarius, on loan from the Rachel Barton Pine Foundation.
“I’ve been trying to find an opportunity to work with him for a number of years and it didn’t work out with our calendars, but for this opportunity, when it came time to suggest a soloist, he was the first to come to mind,” said Patel. “He has such a beautiful tone and warmth to his sound, so the audience will surely love him.”
Audience members who want to learn more about the works being performed are invited to hear a pre-show talk at 6:30 p.m. by Edward Lada, Director of Artistic Operations for the Savannah Philharmonic.