Pianist and composer Gregory Taboloff will have a chance to show both of those skills when he presents his Piano Concerto No. 1, “The Mystic” on a program with a Beethoven concerto, and Mozart overture at Herbst Theatre. The September 8th concert, conducted by David Ramadanoff, will mark the San Francisco premiere of the work, which has evolved through several iterations to become the piece it is today.

There’s more information about the concert at Gregory Taboloff’s website.

It’s a piece decades in the making: “Years ago, about 20 years ago, my wife and I were driving up the beautiful Pacific Highway coast. And we were listening actually to a Saint-Saens piano concerto.  And after hearing this piece, she looked at me, and she knew I was composing smaller works, and she said ‘What would it take to write a major work like this, you know, a three movement piano concerto?'” That led to sketches and a deep dive into the study of orchestration. There was a performance in 2002 of an early version of the piece, when it had the subtitle ‘The Russian’. “I do like to be a little bit show-offy of what my technical capabilities are, so I do like to write some of the more powerful passages that are in the style of the late Russian Romantics, but I also like to give the orchestra its fair share of exciting technical challenges too.” This new version had a performance at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek two years ago, also conducted by David Ramadanoff. In the intervening years, it’s been reworked, inspired by the Walt Whitman poem ‘The Mystic Trumpeter’ from Leaves of Grass, and also a painting by Taboloff’s wife, Ann Marie. “The Mystic to me evokes a spirit of evolution. Of the raw earth, as it is in Whitman’s poem. People struggling to find themselves out of the darkness, and then when mystically there is this clarion sound above, it is the mystic trumpeter. ‘I hear thee, I follow thy tones. Blow again, trumpet.'”

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