Symphony to Feature Brilliant Young Pianist

By Tabitha Hogue

 

Music lovers in Santa Monica are in for a real treat this weekend. The Santa Monica Symphony (SMS) will present a free concert on Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. in Barnum Hall, featuring international award-winning pianist So-Mang Jeagal performing Brahms’ “Piano Concerto No. 1.” Jeagal, who was awarded the grand prize in the 61st Washington International Piano Competition, is a recent graduate of USC’s Keyboard Studies Artist Diploma Program.

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“I chose this concerto because it has a variety of expressions and emotions that convey a sense of nobility and sophistication,” Jeagal said. “Even though it was written when Brahms was quite young, it has a lot of depth and feeling of fullness and completion.”

SMS Conductor and Music Director Guido Lamell said he considers Jeagal to be “one of the finest pianists” he knows and he is thrilled to have him performing this epic piano concerto with the orchestra.

“It’s our goal to showcase brilliant young local talents before they have sort of ‘taken over the world.” A few years down the line, we imagine they will be considered among the world’s great concert soloists and then we would have to stand in line behind the Berlin Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony to get them,” he said. “So I’m very happy to have this opportunity to perform with So-Mang first.”

Jeagal said that the concerto requires a good balance between the piano and the orchestra.

“They are almost equal ensembles working together, and the conversation between the two is very important,” he said. “In preparing this piece, I find myself admiring Brahms more and more. Every note he writes has meaning.”

In addition to the Brahms’ concerto, Saturday’s concert will feature Wagner’s “Prelude to Act III” from “Lohengrin”.

“It’s one of the most vibrant and jubilant overtures that I could think of,” Lamell said. He add that although the piece is only three minutes long, it provides a great display orchestral brilliance and jubilation. “It is a very bright light with which to open our program,” the music director commented.

Also on the program will be Schubert’s “Symphony No. 8 in B Minor”, popularly known as the “Unfinished Symphony.”

“Even though Schubert composed only two movements of this symphony, those two movements are considered to be some of the greatest pieces that have ever been composed,” Lamell said. “So therefore the piece is extremely popular around the world.”

Following the flashy opening number, the Schubert symphony will bring the audience soothing and lovely melodies, giving audience and musicians alike the opportunity to “luxuriate in beauty,” as Lamell put it. “However,” Lamell continued, “It’s not only a stroll amongst the lilies. There are also sections of enormous power and drama which often are played rather gently by other ensembles. I’d like to unleash the full forces of our great symphony orchestra and stun the audience with these extreme contrasts of character.”

For more information about Saturday’s free performance, call 310.395.6330 or visit the Santa Monica Symphony’s website.

Pianist So-Mang Jeagal.
Photo: Santa Monica Symphony.