Former Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra member, Kazem Abdullah to make CSO conducting debut

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The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) performs with the mighty forces of the May Festival Chorus for its Thursday and Sunday, October 9 & 11 concerts, featuring a stirring performance of Stravinky’s cantata King of the Stars under the direction of guest conductor Kazem Abdullah.

Kazem Abdullah, lauded for his “superb, sensitively detailed conducting” by Financial Times, is one of the most watched up-and-coming talents on the podium today. The CSO is delighted to welcome Mr. Abdullah, a former member of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, and first-ever recipient of the Norman Johns Scholarship for the CSYO, for his CSO conducting debut. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music in clarinet performance, Abdullah joined the New World Symphony as a clarinetist under Michael Tilson Thomas. He was appointed by Music Director James Levine to the position of Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where he worked with such conductors as Lorin Maazel and current CSO Music Director Louis Langrée.

Claude Debussy’s final orchestral work originally written to accompany a ballet, Jeux opens this intriguing concert. Igor Stravinksy’s rarely performed cantata King of the Stars was written for huge orchestra and men’s chorus. Dedicated to Debussy, the work echoes his harmonic influence and was praised by the composer as “extraordinary.” In his Symphony of Psalms, Stravinsky portrays the religious atmosphere of Psalms 38, 40 and 150 through use of a large chorus and compositional techniques.

The concert concludes on a joyful note with the performance of Antonín Dvořák’s cheerful Symphony No. 8, infused with the folksongs of his Czech homeland. Composed after his admission to Prague Academy, Dvořák dedicated the work to the Academy for the encouragement of arts and literature. The improvisational changing of themes reflects the optimism and excitement within the symphony.

This concert is the first of the 2014-15 season’s MAC (Multicultural Awareness Council) Open Door Concerts, celebrating the cultural diversity, history and heritage of the season’s outstanding artists and composers. MAC is a group of diverse community volunteers whose mission is to foster and increase awareness of CSO programs in the greater Cincinnati area through cultural and diverse music programs, educational and community partnerships, scholarships for talented minority student musicians and building diverse audiences.

All ticketholders are invited to attend Classical Conversations, beginning one hour prior to the Saturday performance in the Music Hall auditorium. Get inside the hearts and minds of the composers and guest artists with these informative discussions. Guest conductor Kazem Abdullah joins CSO Assistant Conductor William White this week.

Tickets for this concert start at just $12 and are available by calling the CSO Box Office at (513) 381-3300 or visiting www.cincinnatisymphony.org. Tickets to the Thursday night performance also include a complimentary pre-concert dinner buffet in the Music Hall Ballroom.

The CSO is grateful to Masterworks Series Sponsor USBank. The ArtsWave partner for this performance is Kroger.