Leif Bjaland, a dynamic and exciting American conductor, has built an impressive career in world-class musical arts. COURTESY PHOTO

Feb. 19 concert features young violin soloist, first music director candidate

  • Thursday, February 2, 2017 3:07pm
  • Life

The Auburn Symphony presents Conductor’s Choice 1, Enigma at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Auburn Performing Arts Center, 702 Fourth St. NE.

The concert features young violin soloist Stephen Waarts performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, under guest conductor Leif Bjaland, the orchestra’a first music director candidate.

A pre-concert lecture begins at 1:45 p.m.

The orchestra is seeking a successor to Stewart Kershaw, who retired in 2015.

ASO’s February concert will be followed by performances in April, October and February 2018, each conducted by a finalist for the position.

Bjaland, a dynamic and exciting American conductor, has been the artistic advisor to the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra for the last three seasons, He conducted concerts, led the orchestra on its first statewide tour and administered the recently completed search for a new music director. He served as the artistic director/conductor of the Sarasota Orchestra from 1997-1012, during which time the orchestra experienced unprecedented artistic growth.

Bjaland is also the music director of the Waterbury Symphony in Connecticut, where he has received enthusiasm and critical praise for his performances and imaginative programming.

Bjaland is an active guest conductor appearing with the Louisville Orchestra, Las Vegas Philharmonic and will lead performances with Cynthia Gregory and Nevada Ballet Theatre, and the Louisville Ballet. He will also conduct performances with the Pacific Northwest Ballet at the Seattle Opera House (McCaw Hall). Recently he as served as conductor for Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center and on two international tours featuring all Balanchine programs.

He has also acted as a guest conductor for New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Sarasota Ballet and Miami City Ballet. He conducted the Florida Grand Opera in three productions, including a highly acclaimed Don Giovanni a triple bill of one‐act operas by Manuel de Falla ‐ El Amor Brujo, Master Peter’s Puppet Show and La Vida Breve; and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Bjaland received great attention and critical acclaim when he gave the world premiere performance of 19th century American composer George Chadwick’s opera, The Padrone.

Bjaland has created a new multi media presentation, written and narrated by Bjaland called “Journeys to Genius,” which explores the creative road taken in writing a masterpiece work. The enthusiastically received performances include a first half of actors, projected images,and narration leading toward a performance of the full work on the second half of the concert. Works featured so far have been the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, Mozart Jupiter Symphony, Beethoven Eroica Symphony, and Tchaikovsky Pathetique Symphony.

Bjaland made his debut at the Ravinia Festival conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program entitled “Bernstein on Broadway,” also involving soloists, chorus and dancers. He recently appeared with The Chicago Philharmonic, the Gulf Coast Symphony, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, and the California Symphony. He has appeared with many symphony orchestras throughout the country.

Bjaland is also an enthusiastic proponent of music education having taught for several summers in Venezuela as part of that country’s “el Sistema” program. He received his masters degree in conducting from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Gustav Meier. He is the recipient of an honorary doctor of music degree, awarded by Susquehanna University and makes his home in San Francisco.

Tickets are $35 general, $28 seniors 55 and older, $10 students. Order online at auburnsymphony.org or call the box office at 253-887-7777.

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