November 3, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSO Presents The Stirring of the Soul Nov. 7

VALDOSTA — World-renowned pianist Simone Dinnerstein will join the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Johannes Brahms’s “imposing” and “turbulent” Piano Concerto No. 1 at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, in Whitehead Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now.

“Besides being a fantastic pianist, Simone has an incredibly inspiring personal story,” said Dr. Howard Hsu, VSO music director and conductor. “She had an atypical path to stardom, in which she dropped out of Juilliard, raised funds herself to make a recording, had that recording become an Amazon best seller, and rented Carnegie Hall for a make-or-break recital in front of some of the most prominent classical music critics. It was an incredibly risky and gutsy move on her part, but it paid off, and now she's a big classical star. I feel that her sheer determination and firm belief in her self-worth can set a great example for anyone in any field.”

The New York-based Dinnerstein gained an international following with the success of her recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which ranked No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Classical Chart in its first week of sales and was named to many "Best of 2007" lists, including those of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The New Yorker. Her next four albums — The Berlin Concert, Bach: A Strange Beauty, Something Almost Being Said, and Bach: Inventions & Sinfonias — also topped the classical charts.

Dinnerstein was the best-selling instrumentalist of 2011 on the U.S. Billboard Classical Chart and was included in NPR’s 100 favorite songs from all genres in 2011. In spring 2013, she and singer-songwriter Tift Merritt released an album together on Sony called Night, a unique collaboration uniting classical, folk, and rock worlds, exploring common terrain, and uncovering new musical landscapes. She was among the top 10 best-selling artists of 2014 on the Billboard Classical Chart.

In February 2015, Sony Classical released Dinnerstein’s newest album Broadway-Lafayette, which celebrates the time-honored transatlantic link between France and America and includes Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Philip Lasser’s The Circle and the Child: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, written for Dinnerstein.

Dinnerstein’s performance schedule has taken her around the world since her triumphant New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall. She has played concerts throughout the United States for the Piatigorsky Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing classical music to nontraditional venues. She gave the first classical music performance in the Louisiana state prison system when she played at the Avoyelles Correctional Center, and she performed at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in a concert organized by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In 2009 she founded Neighborhood Classics, a concert series that raises funds for New York public schools. 

Dinnerstein lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her husband and son. She is managed by Ekonomisk Mgmt and is a Sony Classical artist.

During Saturday’s concert, themed The Stirring of the Soul, the American Prize-winning Valdosta Symphony Orchestra will perform Modest Mussorgky’s Khovanshchina: Introduction (Dawn on the Moskva River), Zoltan Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta, and, of course, the Brahms piece.

“Brahms is one of my all-time favorite composers because his music communicates so potently and deeply,” Hsu said. “He was viewed as the next great German composer when he wrote this piece, and he certainly fulfilled that promise. Also, I was fortunate to hear the Berlin Philharmonic perform this work with Daniel Barenboim as soloist in Carnegie Hall, and I still remember being floored by the power and sonority of the first chord, like I was hit over the head by a bolt of velvet.”

“Each of the works on this program moves the listener, whether it's the raucous gypsy music from the Dances of Galanta, the stormy drama from the Brahms concerto, or the vivid picture of Dawn on the Moscow River,” Hsu added.

Tickets for Saturday’s performance, which is sponsored by Stifel, are $27 for adults and $10 for students. Senior, military, and VSU faculty and staff discounts are available.

Whitehead Auditorium is located on the first floor of VSU’s Fine Arts Building, at the intersection of Brookwood Drive and Oak Street.

Visit or contact Sarah Cain with VSU’s College of Arts Outreach Office at (229) 333-2150 or to reserve tickets or learn more. Tickets are also available at the VSO Box Office before each event.

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NOTE: The Downtown Symphony Club, a social group for young and young-at-heart music lovers and professionals, will meet after the concert for food and drinks at 10 p.m. at The Bistro in Downtown Valdosta. Contact Dr. Shannon Lowe, principal bassoonist with the VSO, at for more information. Club members receive a discount on single tickets, exclusive dinner deals on concert nights, as well as the chance to meet and socialize with the soloist, conductor, and orchestra musicians, and more. 

About the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra:

Created in 1990, the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra serves both the cultural life of Valdosta and the regional academic mission of Valdosta State University. The high standard of performance of the orchestra enables it to attract guest soloists of national and international renown to the Valdosta community. The orchestra's membership is a unique blend of resident artist-faculty, students studying professional music disciplines, talented community performers, and carefully selected professionals from a five-state region. Supported by an Advisory Board of Directors, the Valdosta Symphony Guild, Valdosta State University, corporate sponsors, and hundreds of individual patrons, the orchestra has become an important part of the cultural life of the entire region.

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

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