Classical Series

Gershwin & Friends

Nov 09, 2024

7:30 PM

6:30 PM Pre-Concert Talk
Doors open at 6:00 PM

For more information and tickets call the Symphony box office at (562) 436-3203 ext. 1

Long Beach Terrace Theater
300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90802


Nov 09, 2024 7:30 PM

Eckart Preu, Conductor

Clayton Stephenson, Piano

Jessie Montgomery

Coincident Dances

William Grant Still

Symphony No. 5 “Western Hemisphere”


Piano Concerto in F Major

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Embark upon an evening that pays homage to the rich tapestry of American music with an exquisite celebration of diverse musical cultures, influences, identities, and expressive forms where the melodies echo the origins and spirit of America in a harmonious and colorful celebration of past and present.

We open with Coincident Dances, the work from contemporary composer Jessie Montgomery as she channels her profound reflections on the dynamic rhythms of New York City into an innovative musical composition. This piece, a convergence of simultaneous sounds, contrasting times, and diverse cultural ideas, unfolds as a rhythmic masterpiece that elicits an immediate response of understanding and appreciation.

William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 5, “Western Hemisphere” is an opulent composition exuding a late romantic sensibility. Filled with lush and melodic passages, the symphony pulsates with rhythmic vitality, reminiscent of the blue scale. Its cinematic quality carries a positive message of American goodwill and prosperity, exploring the vigorous life-sustaining forces of the hemisphere and focusing on the beauty of nature.

With the timeless genius of George Gershwin, whose signature fusion of jazz and classical music takes center stage, this piano concerto was written a year after “Rhapsody in Blue,” promising an even more ambitious and expansive musical journey. This concerto, performed by the extraordinary pianist Clayton Stephenson, elevates the evening to unparalleled heights. Stephenson, a trailblazing talent and the first black finalist of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2022, lends his remarkable artistry to this symphonic spectacle.

The program seamlessly weaves together the threads of American identity, from Montgomery’s contemporary reflections to Still’s lush romanticism and Gershwin’s groundbreaking fusion of genres. Join us on this transcendent journey, where the melodies echo the vibrant spirit of America, past and present, in a harmonious celebration of musical innovation and brilliance.

Audiences will enjoy the Classical Series fun and elegant evening surrounded by the Terrace Theater’s dazzling fountains and fire pits, live ensemble in the lobby, 6:30 PM Pre-Concert Talk to gain greater knowledge regarding the evening programming, and the ability to “Sip & Enjoy” in the concert hall.  Doors open at 6PM.

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Eckart Preu, Conductor

Eckart Preu (Eck-art Proy) began his tenure as Music Director of Long Beach Symphony in 2017. Critics, the orchestra, and audiences alike have celebrated his ability to combine well-loved masterworks with rare or newer works in programs offering dimension, sophistication, and spirit. Preu also currently serves as …

Clayton Stephenson, Piano

American pianist Clayton Stephenson’s love for music is immediately apparent in his joyous charisma onstage, expressive power, and natural ease at the instrument. Hailed for “extraordinary narrative and poetic gifts” and interpretations that are “fresh, incisive and characterfully alive” (Gramophone), he is committed to making …

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