The Johnson City Symphony presents its final subscription concert of the season, “Prokofiev, Paris, and the Piano,” March 9, with guest artist Caroline Oltmanns on piano. Music Director and Conductor Robert J. Seebacher, leads the JCSO playing Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 4 and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. This concert is sponsored by Jim and Sandy Powell.
Praised by the press for her “impeccable technique and expressivity,” Caroline Oltmanns has performed as a soloist with orchestras in North America, Europe, and South Africa. Her world premieres and recordings of commissioned works for piano and large ensemble include concertos by James Wilding, Till McIvor Meyn, Edward Largent, Rainer Schmitz, Dave Morgan, and Tom Janson. She recently released her fourth solo album on the Filia Mundi label with works by Beethoven, Chopin, and South African composer James Wilding. A professor of piano at Youngstown State University, Ms. Oltmanns has presented master classes and workshops in the United States, Switzerland, Germany, South Africa, and Canada. Her students have been accepted into prestigious programs in the U.S. and abroad, and have pursued outstanding careers in music. A native of Fürth, Germany, Ms. Oltmanns received a performance diploma from the Staatliche Musikhochschule Freiburg, and consequently accepted a Fulbright Scholarship and the prestigious Stipendium der deutschen Wirtschaft for graduate and doctoral studies at the University of Southern California. Her musical mentors were John Perry, Robert Levin, Vitaly Margulis, and Malcolm Frager. She is an International Steinway Artist.
The JCSO accompanies Caroline Oltmanns in the Concerto No. 4 for Piano in C minor, Op. 44, by Camille Saint-Saens. This piano concerto premiered in 1875 during a period of great creativity for Saint-Saens. The concerto begins in C minor and ends in C Major. It was written using thematic transformation, where the composer modifies a theme in such a way that it becomes different, yet is still recognizable. This piano concerto is a showcase not only for the pianist, but also for the composer. Saint-Saens described himself as “eclectic” and his compositions illustrate that quality. With this piece, Saint-Saens pays homage to many other composers whose works he had studied and learned from, including Cherubini, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Liszt.
The symphony orchestra continues the concert with Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100, by Serge Prokofiev. Prokofiev lived through three of the most significant events of the early 20th century: World War I, the Russian Revolution, and World War II. He had left his homeland in 1918, as did many other Russian artists, but he returned in 1936, stating it was because of homesickness and patriotism. The Symphony No. 5 was written in 1944, near the end of WWII. The premiere occurred on the same night that the Soviet Army turned the tide against the Germans, so it had a positive association with that event. The music of this symphony can be taken within the context of a nation at war; Prokofiev himself described it as “a symphony about the spirit of man.”
The March 9 concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary B. Martin Auditorium of Seeger Chapel at Milligan College. Individual concert tickets are $30, $25 for seniors (60+), and $10 for students. Tickets are available online at www.jcsymphony.com or by calling the symphony office at 423-926-8742. The symphony accepts Master Card, Visa, and Discover. Free bus service is available from Colonial Hill, leaving at 6:15 p.m.; Maplecrest and Appalachian Christian Village, at 6:30; and City Hall, at 6:45 p.m. Concerts are partially funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.