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Gershwin, Ravel will help launch Redlands Symphony Orchestra’s new season

By in Press Enterprise on October 10, 2017

By Sherli Leonard

Redlands Symphony Orchestra will open its 2017-18 concert season this weekend with a major work by Conductor Ransom Wilson’s favorite 20th-century composer, Maurice Ravel, performed by a musician Wilson calls “one of the greatest pianists performing now.”

Pianist François Dumont will perform Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

“I built this concert program around the piano pieces,” Wilson said, adding that Ravel was heavily influenced by Gershwin.

“Dumont and I are both members of the Friends of Maurice Ravel and have worked together on Ravel’s flute and piano works, and I knew he had the Ravel concerto in his repertoire. Then he told me he also played the Gershwin, so I knew we had to program these works together.”

From there, Wilson looked for works by French composers to complement the piano works, and discovered Jacques Ibert’s “Paris,” which captures the bustling excitement of nightlife in the City of Lights.

“This is a totally charming piece, which truly helps show what I want to do with this program,” Wilson said. “I want to show the cross-pollination between American jazz and French composers of the early 20th century.”

Wilson said that most composers of the early 20th century were fascinated by Harlem jazz, going to the nightclubs as often as they could. Even Stravinsky participated in the Harlem jazz nightlife.

“I have a feeling there is much to explore with this notion,” said Wilson, who connected with Dumont when he learned about the performer’s interest in Ravel.

“Being a Ravel devotee, I’m very particular about how it ought to be performed,” he said. “After a few minutes talking with Dumont, I knew he was right on. He is such an excellent pianist. He has crystal clear, flawless technique, with a depth of understanding that is what every outstanding piano soloist has.”

Wilson said Dumont, who […]    

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