“Midnight in Moscow” concert will feature classical pianist Leyla Kabuli

Published in the May 8 – 21, 2019 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Marty Cheek

Leyla Kabuli, a pianist who has won several competitions including most recently the Nova Vista Symphony Competition, will perform during the Mother’s Day Concert. Photo courtesy California Young Musicians

Audiences will be taken for a “gorgeously romantic” trip to springtime Russia at the South Valley Symphony’s May 12 Mother’s Day concert at Guglielmo Winery.

With a concert theme of “Midnight in Moscow,” the pieces that will be performed by the SVS orchestra include Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture,” Glazunov’s “A Landscape of Flowing Fields of Wheat,” the famous Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony, and Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concert No. 2” performed by award-winning pianist Leyla Kabuli.

“The music along with the beautiful vineyard setting at Guglielmo will make for a gorgeously romantic experience for the audience,” said Anthony Quartuccio, the SVS conductor and music director. “We are playing all Russian music. We haven’t done that before so it’s going to be a new experience.”

Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture” is a piece written for a large brass ensemble that will get the audience excited with the sound of the concert.

“It’s got this Russian passion for about seven minutes and sends everyone into a great mood,” he said. “It’s a very famous piece, actually, orchestrated for bands.”

The theme of the 2018-2019 season has followed the idea of “a symphony for all seasons,” so the final concert will finish with Glazunov’s composition devoted to the season of spring, Quartuccio said.

“It’s a little 10-minute tone poem which is a Russian depiction of spring time with instruments imitating  beautiful bird calls as well as lush, colorful representation of sounds of golden wheat fields and green hills,” he said. “It’s just a pastoral piece, and we’ll be performing it outdoors with the vineyards right next to us.”

The concert will also give audiences the premiere of an arrangement of “Midnight in Moscow,” which is arranged by Jim O’Brien, the symphony’s principal tubist who is also a composer.

One of the greatest Russian pieces of all time is Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Second Piano Concerto,” he said. U.C. Berkeley student Leyla Kabuli, a pianist who has won several competitions  including most recently the Nova Vista Symphony Competition, will perform this difficult piece at the Mother’s Day concert.

“This piece is so lush. It’s a piece that is not to be missed being played live,” Quartuccio said. “Leyla is going to be playing this piece with such finesse and maturity that it’s pretty much unmatched for any group to hear this in a world-class way. So that is going to be a fantastic thing.”

The concert’s “Finale” will feature Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, a 14-minute piece by the famous Russian composer.

“This piece is about transformation. Earlier in the symphony there’s a lot of searching, there’s a lot of angst, there’s a lot of tension in the music,” Quartuccio said. “Well, the finale is all about celebration and glory … If you like Russian music, or if you don’t know Russian music, come and listen to this concert. It’s well worth it.”

Marty Cheek