Jacksonville Symphony to celebrate American composers in American landscapes


The Jacksonville Symphony will present a program celebrating American composers May 18-20.

The program is titled American Landscapes and features works by Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Lowell Liebermann and Howard Hanson. The piece written by Liebermann is a new work for cello and orchestra that was a joint commission by orchestras including the Jacksonville Symphony.

Leading this program of American works is American conductor Kazem Abdullah. Since 2012, Abdullah has been Generalmusikdirektor of the City of Aachen, Germany, where he leads both the orchestral and operatic seasons. Recently, he was nominated by critics in Die Welt, as best conductor in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen for his conducting of “Brokeback Mountain,” “Tosca” and “Tannhäuser.”

In 2009, Abdullah conducted a 12-city tour of the United States with Orquestra de São Paulo, one of Brazil’s most celebrated ensembles. Internationally he has made appearances with ensembles including the St. Gallen Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, the Boca del Rio Philharmonic and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Joining Abdullah and the Symphony for the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra is cellist Julian Schwarz. He was born to a multigenerational musical family in 1991. Heralded from a young age as a cellist destined to rank among the greatest of the 21st century, Schwarz’s powerful tone, effortless virtuosity and extraordinarily large color palate are hallmarks of his style, according to the Symphony. In 2016, Schwarz won first prize at the Boulder International Chamber Music Competition’s “The Art of Duo” with Canadian pianist Marika Bournaki. 

Featured on this program is a work by modern composer Lowell Liebermann. He will be in Jacksonville for the performances and will speak during the pre-concert talk, Insight, an hour before each Masterworks concert. Liebermann has written over 130 works in all genres, several of which have gone on to become standard repertoire for their instruments. His Sonata for Flute and Piano and Gargoyles for piano are among the most frequently performed contemporary works for their instruments.

There are three performances on this program: Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19, both at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 20 at 3 p.m. All performances will take place in Jacoby Symphony Hall. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Ticket Office at (904) 354-5547 or visit JaxSymphony.org. People can also visit the Ticket Office Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 4p.m.