Guest Conductor: Emil deCou
Emil deCou.jpg
 
Emil deCou 2

American conductor Emil de Cou is currently the music director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet and appears regularly with orchestras across the country. After his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra in 2000, he became associate conductor and led the NSO on national tours and at the U.S. Capitol. This summer will mark his 14th year as the principal conductor for the NSO’s Wolf Trap performances. His innovative concerts there have included the world premiere screenings of The Wizard of Oz with the score performed by live orchestra, the first-ever live-tweeted program notes (Beethoven’s 6th Symphony), and a live podcast of his Fantastic Planet concert. In 2006 he led the NSO in the Wolf Trap premiere of Holst’s The Planets narrated by Leonard Nimoy with NASA’s images, and in 2008 he conducted the premiere of Rodgers & Hammerstein at the Movies.

As musical consultant for NASA, he has conducted several collaborations, including Human Spaceflight: The Kennedy Legacy at the Kennedy Center for the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s declaration to land a man on the moon. De Cou will lead the NSO in three performances of 2001: A Space Odyssey, co-produced by NASA and The Kennedy Center, for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. For his work with NASA, de Cou was awarded the agency’s Exceptional Public Achievement Medal; he is the first musician to receive this honor. 

For eight seasons, Mikhail Baryshnikov engaged Emil de Cou to conduct American Ballet Theatre in New York and on national and international tours. De Cou’s performance of Academy Award-winning composer Elliot Goldenthal’s ballet Othello was aired on PBS’s Great Performances series, and the soundtrack was released on the Varese Sarabande label. Among de Cou’s other releases is Debussy Rediscovered on Arabesque, which includes first-ever recordings of music by Claude Debussy.

Born in Los Angeles, Emil de Cou studied with Daniel Lewis at USC and was chosen for Leonard Bernstein’s master class at the Hollywood Bowl. De Cou made his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops in 2006. He has led many of America’s leading orchestras, including those of Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and St. Louis. He has also led the Boston Pops, and served as principal conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Pops. Emil de Cou now makes his home in both San Francisco and Seattle with his husband, conductor Leif Bjaland.

Guest Artist: Hélène Wickett
Hélène Wickett, piano

Hélène Wickett, piano

Hélène Wickett, piano

Hélène Wickett, piano

Hélène Wickett has regularly appeared as soloist with major orchestras and in solo recital throughout Europe and the Americas as well as being active as a chamber musician. Her London Wigmore Hall debut took place in 1985, Kennedy Center in 1986, Paris Opéra Comique and Rome Villa Medicis in 1993.

Ms. Wickett has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Göteborg Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Stockholm Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Residentie Orchestra of the Hague, Pittsburgh Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Graz Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, National Chamber Orchestra, Marseilles Opera Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Alabama Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, National Chamber Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Reno Chamber Orchestra, Aalborg Symphony and the Irish Radio Television Orchestra among many others, with conductors Raymond Leppard, Paavo Berglund, Christoph von Dohnányi, Hans Vonk, George Cleve, Edo de Waart, Nicholas McGegan, Joseph Silverstein, Peter Erös, Eduardo Mata, Bernhard Klee, Mehli Mehta, Janos Fürst, Murry Sidlin, Michael Lankester and Michael Tilson Thomas. 

She has played solo recitals in virtually every major western musical capital. Winner of the Pro Musicis Foundation Award, she made her New York debut under their auspices in 1980. Through the Pro Musicis Foundation she also has played in many non-traditional venues such as hospitals, maximum-security prisons, drug rehabilitation centers and mental institutions for diverse audiences with limited access to live classical music. 

Born in Palo Alto, California to an American father and Austrian mother, she began piano and violin lessons at age 4, played her first solo recital at 6, made her orchestral debut at 8 and won the San Francisco Symphony Youth Auditions at age 11, making the first of numerous solo appearances with that orchestra. She entered Stanford University at age 16, after having lived in Paris for several years to study theory and composition with Nadia Boulanger. Her piano teachers were Alfred Brendel, Robert Casadesus, Elena Hitchcock, Benjamin Kaplan, Abram Chasins and Geneviève Joy. 

Ms. Wickett has performed some 70 concertos with orchestra as well as most of the chamber music repertory. A violin student of Henryk Szeryng, Stuart Canin, Jacob Krachmalnick, and Naoum Blinder, she also plays viola and harpsichord. She is principal violist for Symphony Parnassus. She has also studied voice in Vienna and is fluent in six languages.   

Guest Artists: Orphiq Percussion Quartet
Left to right: Peyton Esraelian, Robert Strong, Sean Clark, and Michael Downing of the Orphiq Quartet.

Left to right: Peyton Esraelian, Robert Strong, Sean Clark, and Michael Downing of the Orphiq Quartet.

Orphiq Quartet

Orphiq Quartet

Musicians Sean Clark, Michael Downing, Peyton Esraelian and Robert Strong are the Orphiq Quartet. The Fresno-based group performs internationally and seeks to share its love of percussion chamber music with audiences everywhere. They enjoy working with composers on new pieces and like to perform standards as well. 

Sean Clark is currently attending Fresno State University, where he is working on a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education. He splits his time among several projects and ensembles including Orphiq, the Fresno State Percussion Quartet and the New Arrivals Duo.

Michael Downing is section percussionist with the Sacramento Philharmonic and the Stockton Symphony. He is the adjunct professor of percussion at Fresno Pacific University and holds a master’s degree and a bachelor of arts degree from Fresno State. 

Peyton Esraelian is a recent graduate of Clovis Online High School and has been a member of the Fresno State Percussion Ensemble and New Music Ensemble since 2015. She is the principal percussionist with the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra. 

Robert Strong is a percussionist, composer and educator based in Clovis, California. He studied music performance under Dr. Matthew Darling at CSU Fresno. From 2014 until 2017, he served as director of percussion studies at the Regan Educational Center in Clovis. He is currently a member of the Impetus Percussion Quartet, Orphiq and Clovis Wind Symphony.

Visit the Orphiq Quartet's website to learn more.

Composer Profile: Stefan Cwik
Stefan Cwik, composer-in-residence

Stefan Cwik, composer-in-residence

Stefan Cwik, composer-in-residence for Symphony Parnassus, studied composition and guitar performance with Dusan Bogdanovic, and composition with David Conte, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He studied with composer Michel Merlet at the European American Musical Alliance summer program in Paris, France, and completed his graduate studies in composition with John Corigliano at The Juilliard School in New York.

Bassoonist Paula Brusky premiered Cwik’s Eight Miniatures for Chamber Ensemble (Hommage a Stravinsky), a winner of the 2010 Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition. It was also was premiered at the 2011 International Double Reed Society Conference. It is published by TrevCo Publishing with a recording on the MSR classics label. Cwik’s piece Acrobats for four-hand piano, commissioned by the ZOFO duet of San Francisco, and winner of the 2013 BMI Student composer award, will be recorded and released on the Sono Luminus label.

While at Juilliard, Stefan won the Orchestral Composition Competition for two consecutive years. His orchestral work Terpsichore was premiered and recorded by the Juilliard Orchestra, and was given honorable mention at the 2012 Minnesota Orchestra Composer’s Institute. The Illusionist, his second winning piece, was given honorable mention at the 2013 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.

Stefan has already collaborated four times with Maestro Stephen Paulson and Symphony Parnassus, premiering his Concert Dances for Orchestra (2009), his Piano Concerto with soloist Scott Foglesong (2011), his English Horn concerto The Sword in the Stone featuring soloist Russ DeLuna (2016), and Luz Dorada (Golden Light) in 2017. His final commission as composer-in-residence for Symphony Parnassus is Relics: Dances for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra, to be premiered on today’s program.

Stefan Cwik is currently professor of music theory and musicianship at SFCM. Stefan is a member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). Examples of his music can be found on his website, www.StefanCwik.com, and can be requested by contacting him via email at stcwik@gmail.com.