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by The Urban News
Pianist Jacob Bernhardt

Three legendary Scandinavian and Slavic composers channel the powerful spirit and splendor of the frozen north in the Asheville Symphony’s Masterworks 4: Aurora concert inspired by the northern lights.

Envision towering cliffs with Grieg’s Piano Concerto featuring pianist Jacob Bernhardt, icy fjords with Sibelius’ epic Finlandia, and snowy fields with Tchaikovsky’s brilliant and dramatic Fourth Symphony. Led by Maestro Darko Butorac, the concert takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.

“In this concert, we explore three epic works from three Northern composers: Sibelius, Grieg, and Tchaikovsky—fitting for a wintry mood,” said Butorac. “Sibelius’ Finlandia is a rousing work that was central to Finland’s quest for independence and is known for its powerful brass writing. The Grieg Piano Concerto is the composer’s best-known work, celebrated for its dramatic opening and virtuosity, that will feature our guest pianist Jacob Bernhardt, winner of the CIM Concerto Competition.

“To finish the program we have Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, full of drama, soaring melodies and excitement as it explores the conflict between choice and fate. This is one of my favorite works to conduct, and I am thrilled to present it to our Asheville audience!”

The program opens with Finlandia, a tone poem for orchestra. The piece was premiered in the composer’s native Finland for the Finnish Press Pension Celebration of 1899, a rally in support of freedom of the Finnish press that was largely controlled by tsarist Russia at that time. With a powerful opening, symbolizing Russia’s repression of the Finns, and hymn-like middle section, it soon became the symbol of Finnish nationalism.

Next, guest pianist Jacob Bernhardt joins the orchestra for Grieg’s beloved Piano Concerto. Inspired by Robert Schumann and incorporating Norwegian dance rhythms, Grieg’s Piano Concerto is one of the most popular…

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