Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Symphony begins anew

First of 9 free concerts start Sunday with new additions

Express Staff Writer

    He’s the Doogie Howser of the classical music world.
    The prodigy and acclaimed young conductor Teddy Abrams is the latest addition to the evergreen Sun Valley Summer Symphony scene. The 20-something is serving as its first-ever assistant conductor to Music Director Alasdair Neale.
    The Sun Valley Summer Symphony this year has undertaken a number of new components to enhance the experience for concert-goers and engage new audiences. After nearly three decades of producing the largest privately funded, free-admission orchestra in America, symphony organizers will present the changes to the public during nine concerts at the Sun Valley Pavilion. The free concerts start Sunday, Aug. 4, at 6:30 p.m. with phenom violinist Midori. The concerts continue through Aug. 20, culminating with a tribute to longtime Sun Valley Co. owner Earl Holding.
    In addition to featuring its first assistant conductor, who has been helping shape the musical direction for the season, the symphony will present dancers on the stage performing to selected music.
    A kids’ music tent will include an instrument zoo and other interactive opportunities and smart-phone fanatics will appreciate the free app. Just in time for the start of the concert season, the app allows supporters access to up-to-the-minute news and information on the symphony’s concerts and events. Available for IOS and Android, the app contains complete concert information, including a schedule and repertoire and artists’ details. Users can also access photos, as well as the most recent music, podcasts, news and blogs.
    To Jennifer Teisinger, executive director of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, this is a natural evolution of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s growth and vitality.
    “It’s a fun and interactive way to connect with concert attendees and expand our connections with the community, and beyond,” she said.
    Up to 6,000 people attend the concerts on a given night, which gave rise to the installation of “jumbotron” screens to accommodate those picnicking on the grassy knoll beyond the seats in the pavilion.
    It also is why an assistant conductor was sought. Abrams is a multi-tasker, performing as a clarinetist and pianist as well as composer.
    He performed as a keyboardist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, won the 2007 Aspen Composition Contest, and was the assistant conductor of the YouTube Symphony at Carnegie Hall in 2009. He has held residencies at the La Mortella music festival in Ischia, Italy, and at the American Academy in Berlin. He has served as a cover conductor for several orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony.  
    Abrams was a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra for seven seasons, and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a bachelor of music, having studied piano with Paul Hersh.
    Abrams studied conducting with Michael Tilson Thomas, Otto-Werner Mueller at the Curtis Institute of Music, and with David Zinman at the Aspen Music Festival. He was the youngest conducting student ever accepted at both institutions. Abrams is also an award-winning composer and a passionate educator—he has taught at numerous schools throughout the United States. During his tenure in Miami Beach at the New World Symphony, his 2009 Education Concerts were webcast to hundreds of schools throughout southern Florida.
    Said Teisinger of the need for support for Neale, “The symphony has grown to a point where it made sense for practical reasons and artistic ones.”
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