PSO and the Schumann Piano Concerto - Peninsula Symphony
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PSO and the Schumann Piano Concerto



by Julia Adams, PSO Contributor

Have you ever explored the PSO Concert History Page? Just in case you haven’t, or haven’t recently, I thought it might be good to look at it together this week on the blog. I will be particularly looking at a piece from Peninsula Symphony’s upcoming season, Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, which will be performed by the extraordinary Conrad Tao.

By visiting you have access to almost 70 years of concert history by the Peninsula Symphony, and although it’s always a work in progress, it has tons of fun information at your fingertips!

Check out the image below where I do a search under Schumann and piece title keyword “piano.” You can also see all the other options you have for searching, including conductor, soloist, concertmaster, etc.



After hitting “Search” it will bring up all the instances that Peninsula Symphony has played this piece (see the image below), which happens to be 4, including a partial performance by one of the youth competition winners.




You’ll notice a few things about the results:

  1. It has been performed by 4 different pianists:
    1. Sylvia Jenkins graduated “summa cum laude” from the San Francisco Conservatory and studied in Vienna and Siena, Italy (Accademia Chigiana). Her many scholarships and prizes include the San Francisco Critics Circle award, the University of California award, the University of California Alfred Hertz Scholarship for three consecutive years, and the Munich International Competition. “Beautiful performance”, wrote Zoltan Kodaly of her interpretation of his piano music at a special concert (Stanford University) honoring the composer on his single trip to the U.S.
    2. Wim van Overeem doesn’t seem to have much of a presence on the internet today, but from the newspaper clippings I was able to find from the early 60’s it seems as though he was a frequently performing pianist in the Bay Area at that time.
    3. Hélène Wickett has regularly appeared as soloist with major orchestras and in solo recital throughout Europe and the Americas as well as being active as a chamber musician. Her London Wigmore Hall debut took place in 1985, Kennedy Center in 1986, Paris Opéra Comique and Rome Villa Medicis in 1993. Ms. Wickett has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Göteborg Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, and many others!
    4. Christine Kim (the youngest soloist and winner of our 2009 Mindell Piano Competition) is another who does not have a strong online presence, but seems to have been very busy on the piano competition circuit in the late 2000’s, winning several along the way.
  1. 3 conductors have led the piece: Twice with founding Music Director, Aaron Sten, once with Mitchell Sardou Klein, and once with Jessica Bejarano, who was the assistant conductor in 2009.
  1. It’s almost always performed in the fall, as it will be this year on November 4th and 5th.
  1. The orchestra had an almost 30-year hiatus from the piece between 1961 and 1990, and it’s be 26 years since PSO has performed the entire work. It’s fun to think about why this was! Was it being performed by other orchestras in the area? Did the soloists not have it in their repertoire? Were the conductors just not “feeling it?” We’ll probably never know, but it’s interesting to hypothesize! By contrast, a quick search on the database indicates the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto has been performed 8 times.
  1. If you search the database for each soloist’s name, you’ll find that the Schumann is the only piece they ever performed with PSO. One and done!

What else can YOU find by searching through the archives? Has Peninsula Symphony ever performed YOUR favorite piece? Have fun!

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