MSO to feature all-Russian program

Piano soloist Dmitri Ratser returns.

Conducted by Carmon DeLeone, the Middletown Symphony Orchestra will continue its 75th anniversary and final season with “Ratser Returns!” on Sunday, March 26, at Dave Finkelman Auditorium.

“This concert is really an extension of the previous concert, ‘Best Friends Forever!’ Since this now is the final season of the orchestra, I thought, who in the past has made their mark on our audiences, and Dmitri Ratser is certainly one that I thought of,” said Carmon DeLeone, the symphony’s musical director.

Ratser, a piano soloist from Russia, has joined the 55-60 member Middletown Symphony Orchestra for several guest appearances in the past, but it has been several years since he has joined the orchestra on stage.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever asked him to do double duty, but in this case, he is playing two concertos rather than one concerto, so not only is he back, but we’re making him work,” DeLeone said.

“It’s an all-Russian program, including our soloist, and all of the composers are Russian, as well,” he said.

DeLeone said this program is more of a straightforward, symphonic program compared to the previous concert, which was more complex, musically.

The program will open with “March in Bb, Op. 99” by Sergei Prokofiev, and feature the orchestra’s woodwinds, brass and some percussion instruments. The second piece on the program, “Vocalise” (Arr. Sanderling) by Sergei Rachmaninoff will highlight the string instruments of the orchestra.

“Then before intermission, we bring to the stage our friend Dmitri Ratser, who will play the first of two piano concertos. The one before intermission is going to be Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op 23,” DeLeone said.

Following intermission, Ratser will play a piece he’s well known for, “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18” by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Ratser also previously played this piece with MSO in 2003.

Ratser has been described as “one of Russia’s greatest pianists.” In 1990, Ratser was formally added to the roster entitled “Soloists of the Moscow Philharmonic,” and that was the same year he first performed outside the former Soviet Union, with the Austin, Texas Symphony Orchestra.

In the United States, he has performed at the Kennedy Center three times with the National Symphony Orchestra under Mstislav Rostropovich, in a solo appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York, and with symphony orchestras in more than thirty-five cities. In 2015, Ratser won two Grand Prix at International Master Competitions for Music Teachers in Moscow (Russia) and Warsaw (Poland). He currently serves as a professor at the Russian Gnessin Music Academy in Moscow. He has also performed in countries all over the world, including Germany, South Korea and Hong Kong.

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How to go

What: Middletown Symphony Orchestra to present “Ratser Returns!” featuring Dmitri Ratser, piano soloist

When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 26

Where: Dave Finkelman Auditorium, Miami University Middletown

Cost: $30 adults, $20 students. Call (513) 424-2426

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