Eckart Preu conducts Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony October 14 and Pianist Alon Goldstein returns for Mozart Piano Concerto No.20

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra welcomes guest conductor Eckart Preu to the podium at The VETS for a program including Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No.3 (Organ), Del Aguila’s Conga-Line in Hell and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.20, featuring pianist Alon Goldstein in a return engagement. The concert is Saturday, October 14, at 8:00pm. The AMICA Rush Hour concert is Friday, October 13 at 6:30pm.

Tickets are available, starting at $15, and can be purchased from the RI Philharmonic Box Office at or 401.248.7000 (M-F 9:00am – 4:30pm). 

“Eckart Preu has conducted major orchestras on several continents, and we’re excited to welcome him to Rhode Island,” said David Beauchesne, executive director of Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School. “We’re also delighted to welcome Philharmonic favorite Alon Goldstein back to The VETS for Mozart’s sparkling Piano Concerto No.20. This weekend also marks the opening of the season’s four-concert AMICA Rush Hour series, Fridays at 6:30pm.”

Saint-Saëns’ Thundering “Organ Symphony”
TACO Classical Concert
Saturday, October 14 at 8:00pm
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence
Tickets start at $15, available at or 401.248.7000

Eckart Preu, conductor
Alon Goldstein, pianist

DEL AGUILA: Conga-Line in Hell
MOZART: Piano Concerto No.20
SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No.3 (Organ)

AMICA Rush Hour Concert
Friday, October 13 at 6:30pm
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence
Tickets start at $15, available at or 401.248.7000

About Eckart Preu, guest conductor 
Music Director of the Long Beach (CA) Symphony Orchestra, Spokane Symphony and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Eckart Preu has conducted major orchestras around the world. Career highlights include performances at Carnegie Hall, the Sorbonne in Paris and a live broadcast with the Jerusalem Symphony. A passionate performer of the core repertoire, Mr. Preu also advocates for “neglected” and contemporary music — a recent season featured works by no less than 13 living composers. Promoting American music, Mr. Preu has conducted premieres by William Thomas McKinley, Roger Davidson, Joan Tower, Leigh Baxter, Michael Daugherty and others. A native of Germany, Mr. Preu came to the United States in 1996 for graduate studies as winner of the National Conducting Competition of the German Academic Exchange Service. His earliest training was in piano and voice, with the boys choir Dresdner Kreuzchor.

About Alon Goldstein, pianist
Alon Goldstein made his debut at age 18 with the Israel Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Mr. Goldstein has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco, Baltimore, St. Louis, Houston, Vancouver, Kansas City and North Carolina symphonies, and with the Costa Rica National Symphony, the Budapest Philharmonic and the Bucharest Philharmonic. Highlights include Britten’s Diversions and Poulenc’s Double Concerto , conducted with his former teacher, Leon Fleisher, at the Ruhr Piano Festival; Mozart’s Double Concerto with Katherine Jacobson Fleisher, and Triple Concerto with Leon Fleisher and Ms. Jacobson Fleisher, with the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia; and the premiere of Lost Souls, written for him by Avner Dorman, with the Kansas City Symphony and Michael Stern. A passionate educator, Mr. Goldstein’s engagements include posts at The Steans Institute of the Ravinia Festival, The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and extended residencies across the country. His Naxos recording of Mozart’s piano concertos No.20 and No.21 with the Fine Arts Quartet is critically acclaimed.

About the concert: stories behind the music

Miguel del Aguila (1957- )
Conga-Line in Hell

Pushed to extremes: Characterized as “Philip Glass, but with a sense of humor,” Uruguayan-born composer, pianist and conductor Miguel del Aguila lives in southern California. In an interplay of classical balance and romantic excess, his music features simple musical ideas pushed to extremes by propulsive rhythms and adventurous instrumentation. After a sensuous middle section, Conga-Line in Hell rushes frantically toward the end to explode in a dramatic finale.

Poor dancers: The composer writes, “Conga began as a dream, the visual image of an endless line of dead people dancing through the fire of hell. I gradually started hearing the music, which was flowing spontaneously out of me in an effort to entertain and alleviate the pain of those poor souls. I woke up and wrote the music as I remembered it…humorous, sarcastic, grotesque, sensuous and at times also terrifying. I rely mainly on the dramatic and expressive qualities of rhythm to convey the evil forces that govern my imaginary hell….”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No.20 in D Minor, K. 466

Before the ink was dry: On February 10, 1785, Mozart finished his D Minor Piano Concerto as his father arrived in Vienna for a visit; he played the premiere in a concert that same evening. Father Leopold wrote to sister Nannerl: “…Your brother did not even have time to play through the Rondo, as he had to supervise the copying…”

In the key of doom: Mozart took a new tack with this music in D minor — the key of doom in Don Giovanni, the key of sorrow in the Requiem. There may be a connection between these and the concerto’s premiere during the first days of Lent. In any case, it is a strikingly Romantic work, full of drama and tragedy sharply contrasted with sublimity and innocence.

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
Symphony No.3 in C minor, op.78 (Organ Symphony)

Swan song: Completed in 1886 at the peak of Saint-Saëns’ career, the Third Symphony was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and premiered in London’s St. James’ Hall. The composer wrote, “I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again.” Perhaps knowing it would be his last symphony, he showcased brilliant Romantic orchestral writing, virtuoso piano passages and the sound of a cathedral-sized pipe organ. After the death of his friend Franz Liszt, Saint-Saëns dedicated the work to Liszt’s memory.

Respect:  The Organ Symphony is one of the late 19th century’s most sophisticated orchestral works. Familiar in film (Babe) and other pop-culture, it’s easy to overlook its innovations: only two movements, and the use of keyboards — four-hands piano as well as organ — for a dazzling fantasia on the main theme of the finale. Saint-Saëns creates both gigantic and intimate worlds, following the ideas of thematic transformation that Liszt pioneered, in symphonic language. In the final coda, after the fugue, the theme speeds up until time seems to slow down, as the thundering organ plays a bass line so low that we feel the notes, rather than hear them.