Susan Merdinger

The mystique of it all

‘Romantic Celebration’ featuring pianist Susan Merdinger, Beaufort Symphony Orchestra set for January 29

From staff reports

“Romantic Celebration” is the theme of Beaufort Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming concert with guest artist, pianist Susan Merdinger, who will captivate her audience with her interpretation of one of the world’s most beloved works, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op.23.

“What I love about this piece are the unabashed romantic melodies and thrilling virtuosity throughout,” she said in a news release. “One gets to play the loudest possible chords and the softest imaginable arpeggios, making it emotionally and viscerally gratifying to perform as well as exciting for the audience to experience!”

For Merdinger, it is a delicate balance between conveying a composer’s intentions while also infusing her own interpretation of the work.

“I hope to bring tears to their eyes or goosebumps on their arms – how this is accomplished is the mystique of it all!”

In addition to her prize-winning concert piano performances Merdinger is also a gifted conductor and founder of the Sheridan Solisti Chamber Orchestra based in the Chicago area. Her ensemble focuses on hidden gems of the traditional repertoire as well as contemporary music and specializes in presenting soloists with orchestra.

“As a soloist one must wear two hats – be both a leader and a follower,” she said. “Projecting with strength and power and knowing where to play second fiddle are equally important. Concertos are usually written giving soloist and orchestra a chance to shine separately and together.”

Merdinger also shared some fascinating facts about the concerto she and Maestro Frederick Devyatkin selected for this performance. It was debuted in Boston in 1875, after some early criticism calling it “unplayable.” Later the work became immensely popular around the world due in large part to concert pianist Van Cliburn’s unprecedented First Prize-win at the inaugural Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Russia in1958.

The subsequent studio recording was the first classical album to ever go Platinum, earning Van Cliburn a Grammy Award. For more than a decade it remained the best-selling classical album in the world and eventually went triple platinum. Today, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 is still so familiar that most people recognize the main themes of the first movement even if they are not classical music aficionados.

Merdinger first performed with BSO in October, 2021. 

“I’m thrilled to return to Beaufort where I have made many new friends,” Merdinger said. “I’m excited to work once again with my esteemed colleague Fred Devyatkin. We are both alums of the Manhattan School of Music and I look forward to our Tchaikovsky program.”

The Beaufort Symphony orchestra will perform the Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3 “Scottish” in A minor, Op. 56.

The Sunday afternoon concert will be held on Jan. 29, at 4 p.m., at Beaufort High school Performing Arts Center, 84 Sea Island Parkway, Beaufort. Tickets may be purchased on the Beaufort Symphony Orchestra’s website at www.beaufortorchestra.org or by calling 800-595-4TIX(4849). Tickets are $40 for adults, $15 for students. Remaining tickets at the door if available.

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