Slovak conductor Juraj Valčuha makes a very welcome return to Davies Symphony Hall this week as he leads the San Francisco Symphony in an all-Russian program, with guest artist Benjamin Beilman playing the magnificent Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. The concert opens with Glazunov’s delightful Concert Waltz No 1, and closes with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
Yuraj Valčuha is Chief Conductor of the Orchestra and Choir of the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, an appointment he has held since October 2016, prior to which he was Chief Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai in Turin from 2009 to 2016.
Maestro Valčuha made his conducting debut in 2005, with the Orchestre Nationale de France in Paris, which has been followed by appearances with most of the major orchestras in Europe and the United States. His debut performance with the New York Philharmonic in 2012 was described as “dazzling” by NJ.com, and the following year he appeared for the first time with the San Francisco Symphony, as a Shenson Young Artist. Since then, he has made two follow-up appearances here – in October 2014 and in May last year.
This past season has seen Maestro Valčuha make two further US debuts – with the Chicago Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra – during a tour which included appearances with the Pittsburgh, Washington, Montreal and Minneapolis symphonies. He has also appeared with some of Europe’s finest orchestras in France, Germany and Italy, and in the world of opera, he led performances of Gounod’s Faust in Florence, Strauss’ Elektra and Bizet’s Carmen at Teatro di San Carlo, Napoli and Britten’s Peter Grimes at Teatro Comunale Bologna.
The soloist in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto is the 26 year-old American artist Benjamin Beilman, rapidly becoming one of the fastest rising stars of his generation. The New York Times describes him as “a passionate performer with a deep, rich tone”, and following a performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto at the Montreal Competition, his interpretation of the slow movement was described by the Strad as “pure poetry”. The Philadelphia Inquirer referred to him as “Poised and monstrously talented”, and Le Monde wrote: “He is a prodigious artist, who combines the gift of utmost sound perfection and a deep, delicate, intense, simmering sensitivity”.
This past season Mr Beilman has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin in subscription, and with the Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Other appearances in the US included those with the Symphony orchestras of Detroit, San Diego, Atlanta, and Grand Rapids, and debut recitals here in San Francisco and in Vancouver. Debuts abroad included those with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and at the Dvořák Festival in Prague. He also made a return appearance at London’s Wigmore Hall, and undertook a ten-city tour of Australia.
Recipient of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship in 2014, a 2012 Avery Fisher Career Grant, and a 2012 London Music Masters Award, Benjamin Beilman won First Prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 2010, and First Prize in the 2010 Montréal International Musical Competition. In 2009, he was a winner of Astral Artists’ National Auditions.
Yuraj Valčuha leads the San Francisco Symphony in a program of music by Glazunov, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky, with guest artist Benjamin Beilman, at Davies Symphony Hall on July 28 and 29. For more information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.
San Francisco Symphony program notes