The Colorado Springs Gazette

Award-winning guest conductor, pianist will perform Mozart concerto with Springs Philharmonic

BY JENNIFER MULSON Contact the writer: 636-0270

Two men will reconvene over Mozart, one at the piano and one at the podium.

In its 97th season, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic continues to usher in guest conductors from around the globe, after last season’s departure of its music director, Josep Caballé Domenech. This weekend audiences will meet Andrew Grams, the second of 10 conductors, and also the former music director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra in Elgin, Ill.

Meeting him on stage for Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 23” is New York City-based pianist Albert Cano Smit. The two previously worked together a year ago on a different Mozart concerto.

“He and I speak the same dialect when it comes to our approaches to Mozart,” Grams said. “I could understand easily what he wanted to do musically. That sort of quick understanding is why I use the word dialect. There are many ways to do Mozart or any music, but when you come across someone who speaks your dialect, it makes you feel good inside. It’s like you’re with a compatriot.”

Not only do the two men share a love of the concerto, but also a similar background. Both began their music studies early — Grams at 8 on the violin, Smit at 6 when he placed his hand on a piano and felt a deep connection — and both completed studies at The Juilliard School in New York City.

The weekend’s program, “Mozart and Prokofiev,” designed by Grams, also will feature “Pivot,” by Anna Clyne, Anton Arensky’s “Intermezzo” and Prokofiev’s “Classical Symphony.” Performances, featuring a smaller number of Philharmonic musicians, are Saturday and Sunday at Ent Center for the Arts.

“We have a program that is very orchestral,” Grams said. “The groups

of instruments on stage will provide a very wide, broad palette of colorful sounds. It’s a very uplifting program.”

Not all of this season’s guest conductors are applicants for the Philharmonic’s open music director position. The nonprofit’s search will likely go into next season due to the number of interested conductors, says Philharmonic president and CEO Nathan Newbrough.

For the award-winning Grams, who has led symphonies around the world, including the Chicago

Symphony, Orchestre National de France, Hong Kong Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, the Mozart concerto was an easy choice.

“It’s my favorite one,” he said. “It’s not the most popular or most programmed Mozart concerto, but it’s a piece of music I’ve loved for a long time for its sunny disposition.”

The award-winning Smit, born in Geneva, is also smitten by many of Mozart’s concertos from the 17th century and up.

“I don’t think it’s an overstatement to start with calling them one of the highest artistic achievements of humanity,” he said. “The melodies are not spectacular. It’s not a technical showpiece in any way, it hasn’t got the most adventurous modulations, but every note means so much. It can literally bring you to tears with one harmonic progression.”





The Gazette, Colorado Springs