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The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI: Chopin, Shostakovich, and a tribute to the people of Ukraine

Sergio Tiempo
Sussie Ahlburg
Venezuelan-Argentine pianist Sergio Tiempo makes his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in this concert broadcast.

Join us on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, and Monday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2 when our Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series brings you a performance recorded live this past March.

Guest conductor Kensho Watanabe is on the podium as Venezuelan-Argentine pianist Sergio Tiempo makes his debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra in Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor.

Pianist Sergio Tiempo talks with WRTI's Susan Lewis about Chopin and his own musical path

The concert also features the powerful Symphony No. 5 in D minor by Dmitri Shostakovich, a pivotal work in his output as a whole, produced while the composer endured a two-year period of public censure by the Soviet authorities after a decade of sweeping successes.

The reason for this precipitous fall from grace was never clear, but it came to an end specifically because of the resounding success of the work’s premiere in 1937. The huge ovations that greeted every performance soon restored Shostakovich to official favor, though he never fully recovered from the trauma of those two years of gut-wrenching political pressure.

Chopin’s Piano Concerto in E minor, Op. 11 is one of two concertos written in a single year by the 20-year-old composer and pianist as he launched his career in his native Poland. His public performances of the two works helped him break through as a virtuoso performer and to be taken seriously as a composer. They became his calling card as he raised his profile first in Warsaw… and later, throughout Europe.

Indeed, he premiered the E minor Concerto in his last performance before leaving Poland, ultimately settling in Paris. Pianist Sergio Tiempo, who calls this work “an old friend,” makes his Philadelphia Orchestra debut with this performance.

Selected Remarks by Charlotte Blake Alston introducing "Melody" from The High Pass, by Ukranian composer Myroslav Skoryk

To open the program, the Orchestra’s official host and narrator, Charlotte Blake Alston, offers remarks in tribute to the embattled people of Ukraine, and the Orchestra honors their resilience with “Melody” by Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk, written for a 1982 film titled The High Pass.

Scored originally for flute and piano, “Melody” struck a chord with the Ukrainian public, and has become a kind of unofficial Ukrainian hymn, appearing in countless arrangements and familiar to most of the country’s people.

Listen during the broadcast for producer Susan Lewis' interview with pianist Sergio Tiempo.

Detailed program notes from the concert are here.

*Note: This concert was originally scheduled to be conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Because of illness, he was replaced by Kensho Watanabe.

Skoryk: “Melody”
Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Kensho Watanabe, conductor
Sergio Tiempo, piano
Charlotte Blake Alston, speaker

Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, streaming at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app, and on your favorite smart speaker. Listen again on Mondays at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2. Listen for up to two weeks after broadcast onWRTI Replay.

Melinda has worked in radio for decades, hosting and producing classical music and arts news. An award-winning broadcaster, she has created and hosted classical music programs and reported for NPR, WQXR—New York, WHYY–Philadelphia, and American Public Media. WRTI listeners may remember her years hosting classical music for WFLN and WHYY.
Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.