Washington University Symphony Orchestra performs music of Mozart, Sibelius and Grieg

Concert features student soloist Silas Hsu, winner of the Friends of Music Concerto Competition

Steven Jarvi will conduct the Washington University Symphony Orchestra in the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall Feb. 23. (Credit: Whitney Curtis/WUSTL Photo (2))

Though he would become Norway’s most famous composer, Edvard Grieg was by temperament a miniaturist, known for intimate piano-based works inspired by folk songs and dances.

But in 1868, at age 25, the newly married Grieg spent a happy summer in Søllerød, Denmark, where he wrote Piano Concerto No. 1. The piece, Grieg’s first and only large-scale orchestral work, debuted to rapturous reviews and helped propel the young composer to international attention.

Silas Hsu

At 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, the Washington University Symphony Orchestra, with student soloist Silas Hsu, will present Grieg’s Piano Concerto, along with early, reputation-making works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Jean Sibelius. The concert will take place in the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall at the 560 Music Center.

Conducted by Steven Jarvi, the performance will open with Mozart’s “Paris” Symphony No. 31 (1778). Written during an otherwise disastrous trip to Paris, when Mozart was 22, the symphony was tailored to the size of Parisian orchestras, which were larger than those of Mozart’s native Salzburg. It also marked Mozart’s first use of clarinet, a relatively new instrument that would become one of his favorites.

Rounding out the program will be Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” Op. 26 (1900). Initially titled “Finland Awakes,” the piece was written for a political protest against Russian rule but quickly became a centerpiece of the first major tour by the Helsinki Philharmonic, which culminated at the World Exposition in Paris.

Washington University Symphony Orchestra

Drawing musicians from across the campus community, the 75-member Symphony Orchestra performs repertoire from the Baroque to modern period in four public concerts each year.

Hsu is a junior majoring in both music in Arts & Sciences and computer science in the School of Engineering & Applied Science. He is winner of the 2014-15 Friends of Music Concerto Competition. A St. Louis native, Hsu began studying piano at age 6 and has been a guest performer at the Ethical Society of St. Louis and Sheldon Concert Hall, among others. In 2012, Hsu received first place at the St. Louis Young Artist Competition.

The performance is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, in conjunction with Arts & Sciences Ampersand Week. The 560 Music Center is located at 560 Trinity Ave. in University City, Missouri.

For more information, call 314-935-5566 or email daniels@wustl.edu.

Steven Jarvi