January 11, 2019

Organist Chelsea Chen Presents Major Classical Works and an Original Composition in her Overture Hall Debut

Performance on Tuesday, February 19th at 7:30 p.m.

Madison, Wis. – Chelsea Chen brings to her Overture Hall premiere an array of widely-known classical pieces. In addition, she presents an original composition on the Klais Organ, an extension of Zelek’s celebration of the organist’s idiosyncratic “flair and style.”

Ms. Chen’s performance begins with Ola Gjeilo’s Sinfonietta and Grieg’s First Peer Gynt Suite, Op. 46 — continuing with Chen’s original work, the Taiwanese Suite, Saint-Saëns’ Finale from “Organ” Symphony No. 3, Ad Wammes’ Miroir, and finally, selections from Holst’s The Planets.

Gjeilo praises Chen’s interpretation of Sinfonietta, which the organist has performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA, and the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, PA.

The First Peer Gynt Suite, Op. 46 by Grieg is one of the most easily-recognizable compositions within the musical art form. Subtitled “Morning,” it is the first of two suites Grieg transcribed from Henrik Ibsen’s 1867 Norwegian play Peer Gynt. The opus, albeit a short first movement from the suite, intends to instill imagery of the sunrise over the North African desert. Despite this, it is more commonly associated with the sweeping mountains and lakes which comprise Norway’s landscape — a connection from the source material. Both peaceful and legato in tone, Op. 46 offers an inspirational crescendo of unwavering undertones to pair with harmonious higher voices before retracting into a final, mellowed bliss.

Chen’s own Taiwanese Suite combines the dynamic range of the organ with inflections of traditional Asian folksongs. Comprised of three movements: “Hills in the Springtime,” “Moonlight Blue,” and “Mountain of Youth,” the variations contribute to Chen’s compositional portfolio as well as the versatility of the instrument for which it was composed.

Inspired by the works of Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt, and others, Saint-Saëns composed a variety of arrangements and selections for numerous occasions. By age 10, the French composer held his first concert. His Finale from “Organ” Symphony No. 3 is, as some consider, the pinnacle of his body of compositions. A product of commission from the Royal Philharmonic Society, Saint-Saëns debuted the piece in England in the late-1880s.

Miroir was composed by Ad Wammes for Stephen Taylor to celebrate the organist’s appointment to the Nicolaïkerk, a church in the Netherlands. In an unconventional mirroring — hence the title — the right hand repeats the higher voices in the same pattern throughout the song, whereas the left hand variates texture, voice, and tone in the lower registers. The result is a calming, low hum which is lifted by the glistening echoes of the upper registers.

To Holst, The Planets suite could be framed as “a series of mood pictures,” assigning numerous ambiances upon seven movements. Ironically, repeating accounts of Holst’s encounters with fans of the work suggest he heavily disliked his explosive popularity resulting from the suite’s phenomenal compositional structure. Despite Holst’s supposed negativity towards the piece, its inherent superb qualities of each movement — no two alike — became a staple of evocative composition.

About Chelsea Chen

Following an exemplary academic career at Juilliard and Yale University, Chelsea Chen has practiced under the tutelage of known names in the musical world, such as Paul Jacobs, John Weaver, and many more. In refining her organ abilities, Chen has gone on to premiere across the international community, introducing her Taiwanese Suite and Taiwan Tableaux works as entries into her fusion of Eastern and Western musical styles.

Single Tickets are available for $20 each and can be purchased online at http://madisonsymphony.org/chen, through the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street, or by calling the Box Office at (608) 258-4141.

Groups of 10 or more can save 25% by calling the MSO office at (608) 257-3734. For more information, visit, https://madisonsymphony.org/groups

Student rush tickets can be purchased in person on the day of the concert at the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street. Students must show a valid student ID and can receive up to two tickets for $10 each. More information is at: https://madisonsymphony.org/studentrush

Discounted seats are subject to availability, and discounts may not be combined.

About the Overture Concert Organ Season

The Overture Concert Organ is owned by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and is the stunning backdrop of all MSO concerts. It is programmed and curated by MSO Principal Organist, Greg Zelek. In addition to the Overture Concert Organ Season, the organ is featured in a variety of free events, such as the community Carol and Hymn Sings. Discover more: https://madisonsymphony.org/about/mission-history/

The 18-19 Organ Performance Season is composed by Greg Zelek, featuring guest musicians on both the Overture Concert Organ and accompanying instruments. This season, esteemed organists and guests alike convey power and emotion through the impressive Klais Organ, providing a venue for one of the most significant and recently-commissioned organ installations in the country. Discover more about the 18-19 season: https://madisonsymphony.org/concerts-events/overture-concert-organ-performances

This performance is sponsored by Friends of the Overture Concert Organ. Support for all Overture Concert Organ programs is  provided by the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund. With a gift from Pleasant T. Rowland, the Madison Symphony Orchestra commissioned the Overture Concert Organ.

About the Madison Symphony Orchestra

The Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 93rd season in 2018–2019 and its 25th season under the leadership of Music Director John DeMain. The MSO has grown to be one of America’s leading regional orchestras, providing Madison and south-central Wisconsin with cultural and educational opportunities to interact with great masterworks and top-tier guest artists from around the world. Discover more: https://madisonsymphony.org/about

Peter Rodgers, Director of Marketing
Phone: (608) 257-3734 x226
Email: prodgers@madisonsymphony.org
Web: madisonsymphony.org
Photos: http://bit.ly/msoorganfeb19

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