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The Philadelphia Orchestra On WRTI: Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 Featuring Haochen Zhang

Chris Lee Photographer
Pianist Haochen Zhang with Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin in Beijing in 2019

Join us on Sunday, May 17th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, and Monday, May 18th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2, when pianist Haochen Zhang, the 29-year-old recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and gold-medal winner at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009, will be the soloist in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin talks about the program with WRTI's Susan Lewis.

The enormous success that his Piano Concerto No. 2 immediately enjoyed helped Rachmaninoff regain his confidence after the dismal reaction four years earlier to his First Symphony. It became one of his signature works. He would record it with Leopold Stokowski and The Philadelphia Orchestra nearly three decades later.

WRTI listeners may recall that Haochen Zhang, a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, performed the 1st and 4th Rachmaninoff concertos during The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Rachmaninoff Festival a couple of years ago, concerts that were broadcast on WRTI.

Following intermission, a work that Richard Strauss composed shortly after the death of his friend, Gustav Mahler, for an orchestra of gargantuan size, An Alpine Symphony.

Cast in 22 continuous sections, each one like a chapter in the tale of a youthful mountain adventure, there are sections in the work that are reminiscent of Mahler (the use of cow bells, for instance), and some that sound Wagnerian. And in some ways, Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony is a precedent for Strauss’s work. More than anything else, An Alpine Symphony is a representation of landscape through music, and a mountain-climbing metaphor for life.

WRTI's Debra Lew Harder interviews French horn player Shelley Showers.

During intermission, Susan Lewis speaks with Haochen Zhang and Yannick, and Debra Lew Harder meets backstage with a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s horn section, Shelley Showers, who plays both the horn and the Wagner Tuba in An Alpine Symphony.

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor ?
Haochen Zhang, piano ?
R. Strauss: An Alpine Symphony ?
The Philadelphia Orchestra ?
Yannick Nézét-Séguin, conductor?

Some memorable music-making from the stage of Verizon Hall is yours to enjoy again on Sunday May 17th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1 and on Monday May 18th on our HD-2 channel at 7 PM. Both broadcasts will be streamed online at wrti.org.

Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app,and your favorite smart speaker! Listen again on Mondays at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2.

Gregg was the host of WRTI's morning drive show from 2012 until his retirement from WRTI in January, 2021. He began producing and hosting The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcasts in 2013, joining the Orchestra in Hong Kong for the first-ever live international radio broadcasts from that island in 2016, and in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for two historic broadcasts in 2018. You can still hear Gregg as host of the Orchestra broadcasts every Sunday and Monday on WRTI.