Ukranian-born piano sensation Valentina Lisitsa – heralded for performances of “unexpected depth” (Baltimore Sun) and one of the world’s most watched classical musicians with more than 62 million YouTube views – makes her American Youth Symphony (AYS) debut to perform Rachmaninoff’s scintillating Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini at the orchestra’s “Springtime in Paris Gala,” which includes a free concert on Sunday, March 9, 2013, 6 pm, at UCLA’s Royce Hall, followed at 8 pm by an optional fundraising soirée and bistro dinner to benefit AYS. Music Director Alexander Treger, currently in his 16th season leading AYS, also conducts Gershwin’s beloved An American in Paris, Adam Schoenberg’s Up!, an uplifting fanfare commissioned by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and debuted in 2010, and Ravel’s brooding but captivating La Valse. The 106-member American Youth Symphony, noted for its innovative programming and inspiring performances, is attending the post-concert gala as well.
Lisitsa is considered the first classical music “YouTube star” to have converted her Internet success into a global concert career in the principal venues of Europe, the USA, South America and Asia. That success, which also includes an exclusive recording contract with Decca, is the direct result of the recognition she received when viewers flocked to the Internet to watch a collection of hundreds of videos of her practicing piano that she posted on YouTube in an effort to jumpstart a once floundering career. Decca and others in the classical music industry took notice of her impassioned playing and extremely large following, which led to the reinvigoration of her career.
“Valentina Lisitsa is a remarkable talent whose playing resonates deeply with both live and YouTube audiences,” says Treger. “We are very pleased to present her in her American Youth Symphony debut.”
AYS has trained more than 2,300 musicians since it was founded, and many of its alumni hold principal positions with the world’s top orchestras, the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony, among them. Additionally, AYS’s free concert series, which has drawn more than a quarter of a million people to the Royce Hall since its inception, provides vital music outreach to the community.
AYS’s 2013/14 season wraps with “The Alumni Project,” where AYS musicians share a stand with celebrated alumni to perform Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony. This season finale also features gifted young violinist Nigel Armstrong, a finalist in the 2011 Tchaikovsky International Competition and former AYS Concertmaster.
Reservations are recommended but not required for the American Youth Symphony’s free concert at Royce Hall, but tickets for the post-concert fundraising gala, which begin at $500 per person, must be reserved in advance. Royce Hall is located on the campus of UCLA at 10745 Dickson Plaza in Westwood, CA, 90095. For more information, please call (310) 470-2332 or log on to www.AYSymphony.org.