ENIGMA VARIATIONS

Friday, November 11, 2022 | 8PM | Hill Auditorium

The quintessential work by a quintessentially British composer, Edward Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 (popularly known as the Enigma Variations) comprise a collection of musical sketches depicting some of the composer’s closest friends and family. Central to this photo album is the ‘Nimrod’ variation, a subliminal work of ethereal beauty that evokes remembrance and solemnity.

Pianist Phillip Bush takes center stage for the John Adams’ Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?, a scorching piano concerto of diabolical technical challenges that takes as its title an aphorism attributed to Martin Luther. Rounding out the program is Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte for String Orchestra, the ensemble transformed into a wash of pigments and oils as a theme from Haydn’s String Quartet in F, Op. 77 is subject to prismatic expansion.

PROGRAM

Friday, November 11, 2022 | 8PM | Hill Auditorium 

Phillip Bush, piano
Earl Lee, conductor

Adams Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?
Shaw Entr’acte
Elgar Enigma Variations

Phillip Bush, piano 

BIOGRAPHY

Acclaimed as “a pianist of poetry, elegance, and power” (American Record Guide),  “a pianist of exceptional, cherishable finesse” (Los Angeles Times), and “one of those rare pianists who combine structural intelligence with a hundred color gradations” (Village Voice), Phillip Bush has established a performing career over the past three decades that is noted for its remarkable versatility and eclecticism, with a repertoire extending from the 16th century to the 21st. Since the launch of his career upon winning the American Pianists Association Fellowship Award and subsequent New York recital debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1984, Mr. Bush has appeared as recitalist throughout North America as well as in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. His Carnegie Hall concerto debut with Oliver Knussen and the London Sinfonietta was hailed by the New York Times for its “impressive last-minute heroics,” as he substituted for an ailing Peter Serkin on short notice in concerti by Stravinsky and Alexander Goehr. Mr. Bush has also appeared as soloist with the Osaka Century Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Houston Symphony and a number of other orchestras, in repertoire ranging from the Beethoven concerti to the American premiere of Michael Nyman’s Concerto for Harpsichord. His recording of Charles Ives’ “Concord” Sonata will be released by Neuma Records in 2023. Mr. Bush’s 2018 performance of the Ives in Chicago was chosen as one of that city’s top 10 classical concerts of the year by Chicago Concert Review.

Phillip Bush is widely acknowledged as one of the most experienced American chamber music pianists of his generation: the Kansas City Star referred to him as “the ideal chamber musician.” He has performed and recorded with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, appeared innumerable times on Brooklyn’s Bargemusic series, and has performed at the Grand Canyon Music Festival, Newport Music Festival, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Strings in the Mountains (Colorado), Sitka Music Festival (Alaska), St. Bart’s Music Festival, Music at Blair Atholl (Scotland), Cape May Music Festival, and at many other festivals. He has collaborated in recital and chamber music with concertmasters and principal players of many of the world’s great orchestras, including Berlin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Metropolitan Opera, Philadelphia,  New York, Cleveland, and Houston. Mr. Bush has also made guest appearances with the Kronos, Miami, Parker, Jupiter, Lutoslawski, and Carpe Diem string quartets, and has performed with members of the Emerson, Guarneri, Tokyo, Orion and St. Lawrence quartets. 

Over a ten-year period, Mr. Bush performed over 250 concerts in Japan with the piano quartet “Typhoon”, including several sold-out performances at Osaka Symphony Hall and Tokyo’s Bunkamura Orchard Hall. He recorded five CD’s with the group for Epic/Sony, all of which reached the top of the Japanese classical charts. From 2007 to 2015, he served as Artistic Director of the Bennington Chamber Music Conference in Vermont, the largest (over 300 participants and 50 faculty) and oldest (founded 1946) institute for amateur chamber musicians to study with professional concert artists. 

A devoted advocate for contemporary music, Mr. Bush performed worldwide for 20 years with both the Philip Glass Ensemble and Steve Reich and Musicians, in venues ranging from the Sydney Opera House to the Acropolis in Athens. He has also worked first-hand directly with many of the most significant American composers of our time, from John Adams to Charles Wuorinen. The New York Times has said “Mr. Bush may be one of the few pianists who can play both Elliott Carter’s music and Philip Glass’ with equal persuasiveness.” Mr. Bush’s efforts on behalf of contemporary music have earned him grants and awards from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Aaron Copland Fund, ASCAP, Chamber Music America and the National Endowment for the Arts. His discography as soloist and chamber musician has now reached over 45 recordings on labels such as Sony, Virgin Classics, Koch International, ASV, New World Records, Denon, Cedille, and many others.

Mr. Bush is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Leon Fleisher. From 2000 to 2004, he taught piano and chamber music at the University of Michigan, as well as serving as Visiting Faculty at the University of North Carolina. Since 2012, Mr. Bush has been professor of piano and chamber music at the University of South Carolina School of Music. 

Earl LEE, CONDUCTOR & MUSIC DIRECTOR 

BIOGRAPHY

Winner of the 2022 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, Earl Lee is a renowned Korean-Canadian conductor who has captivated audiences worldwide. Currently Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra his appearances in the 21/22 season include leading the San Francisco Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, and Ann Arbor Symphony in subscription; the New York Philharmonic in its annual Lunar New Year Gala; and debuts with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at New York’s Lincoln Center, the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, and with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam as a participant in the Ammodo masterclasses led by Fabio Luisi. Next season includes a return to the San Francisco Symphony and his Boston Symphony subscription debut.

Beginning with the 22-23 season, Earl joins the Ann Arbor Symphony as Music Director.

Earl recently concluded his position as the Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony where he led various concerts and its programming. He also served as the Resident Conductor of the Toronto Symphony from 2015 to 2018.

In all of his professional activities, Earl seeks ways to connect with fellow musicians and audiences on a personal level. His concerts to date in Canada, the U.S., China and South Korea have often been accompanied by outreach events beyond the concert hall in the community at large. He has taken great pleasure in mentoring young musicians as former Artistic Director and Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, and as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra and is a regular guest conductor with the orchestras of North America’s top music schools such as Manhattan School of Music and the New England, San Francisco, and Royal Conservatories.

As a cellist, Earl has performed at festivals such as the Marlboro Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, Caramoor Rising Stars, and Ravinia’s Steans Institute and has  toured as a member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO), with Musicians from Marlboro, with and Gary Burton & Chick Corea as a guest member of the Harlem String Quartet.

Earl has degrees in cello from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School and in conducting from Manhattan School of Music and the New England Conservatory. He was the recipient of the 50th Anniversary Heinz Unger Award from the Ontario Arts Council in 2018, of a Solti Career assistance Award in 2021 and has been awarded a Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Scholarship by Kurt Masur and the Ansbacher Fellowship by the American Austrian Foundation and members of the Vienna Philharmonic. He lives in New York City with his wife and their daughter.

by the numbers

Number of variations in Elgar's 'Enigma Variations'

'Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?' premiere date

CAROLINE SHAW'S 'ENTR'ACTE' APPROX. LENGTH (IN MINUTES)

SEE YOU AT THE SYMPHONY!

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