Shangru Du is from Wuhan, China, he is the 2022 International Keyboard Odyssiad & Festival Competition winner, who just graduated from Julliard.
He said he chose this piece for the competition because it is absolutely one of his favorite piano concerti. “This is actually the last piano concerti written by Rachmaninoff, and I think it's quite different from other concerti he wrote,” Shangru Du said. “This one is the texture is so much drier and this great deal of virtuosity.”
He highlighted the lyrical 18th variation in particular. It is also the piece that Shangru Du will play with the symphony.
Devin Patrick Hughes, the music director and conductor of the Boulder Symphony, says he selected Tchaikovsky’s Fourth for the program as a great example of the composer's work.
"Well, Tchaikovsky's Four is a great masterwork with so many kind of layers emotionally, historically and just from a performance standpoint,” Hughes said. “I think Tchaikovsky knows how to take the listener on an emotional rollercoaster because that's the life that Tchaikovsky lived.”
Now a Doctorate of Music Education student at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, this concert in Boulder will be Shangru Du’s first with an orchestra.
Hughes noted that the way Shangru Du performed the Rachmaninoff in the competition didn’t hint at the fact that the rising young concert pianist hadn't worked with an orchestra before.
“So I was in for just as much shock … when you heard that this is his first time performing with the full orchestra,” Hughes said. “One of the things that I like to do and that our orchestras like to do is kind of highlight the collaboration. I mean, the orchestras actually played the Rachmaninoff variations of the theme by Paganini before. But the cool thing is every pianist brings in their own interpretation. They bring in their own character, [and] what they want to emphasize.”
Shangru Du says he is honored to collaborate and perform with the Boulder Symphony. “I think this concerto is more like a symphonic concerto than a piano concerto because the pianist is not always front and centered. It's [like] the pianist is basically part of the orchestra and it's all about communication, collaboration. And I think that's very special.”
Hans Zimmer's "Interstellar" theme is also part of Boulder Symphony’s concert at Grace Commons Concert Hall on November 18th.
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