Bramwell Tovey returns to conduct Brahms and “Enigma” on Nov. 18

Pianist Inon Barnatan joins RI Philharmonic in Brahms Concerto No. 1

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra welcomes guest conductor Bramwell Tovey back to the podium for a program including Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations, Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.1 featuring pianist Inon Barnatan, and Berlioz’s Le Corsaire Overture. The TACO classical concert is Saturday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m, with an Open Rehearsal on Friday, Nov. 17, at 5:30 p.m.

“Bramwell Tovey made a powerful impression last October when he conducted a stirring Mozart Requiem with your RI Philharmonic and the Providence Singers,” said David Beauchesne, executive director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School. “We’re so thrilled that he’s back to explore Brahms, Elgar and Berlioz with all of us.”

Tickets are $15-$150, and can be purchased online at, from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence or by phone 401.248.7000 (M-F 9 a.m. -4:30 p.m., closed Veterans Day). On day of concerts, tickets are available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Email questions to

Brahms & “Enigma”
TACO Classical Concert
Saturday, November 18, at 8 p.m.

The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence
Tickets start at $15 and are available at or 401.248.7000 (M-F 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)

Bramwell Tovey, conductor
Inon Barnatan, piano

BERLIOZ Le Corsaire: Overture
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No.1
ELGAR Enigma Variations

Bramwell Tovey Rehearsal w RIPO Fall 2016

Bramwell Tovey rehearses with the RI Philharmonic Orchestra at The VETS.

About Bramwell Tovey

Conductor: Recent guest appearances include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic and the symphonies of Boston, Chicago, Montreal, Melbourne and New Zealand. Mr. Tovey has worked with leading choirs including Los Angeles Master Chorale, Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Melbourne Symphony Chorus and Pacific Chorale in a wide range of repertoire from Bach and Britten to Part and Penderecki.

Composer: In 2003 Mr. Tovey won the Juno Award for Best Classical Composition for his choral and brass work Requiem for a Charred Skull. Commissions include the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, the Toronto Symphony and Calgary Opera who premiered his first full-length opera The Inventor in 2011.

Pianist: He has appeared as soloist with many major orchestras including the New York, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, St Louis, Toronto and Royal Scottish orchestras. In the summer of 2014, he played and conducted Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic, and in Saratoga with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Inon Barnatan 2014- PianistPhoto: Marco Borggreve

Pianist Inon Barnatan

About Inon Barnatan, piano

“One of the most admired pianists of his generation” (New York Times), Inon Barnatan is celebrated for his poetic sensibility, musical intelligence and consummate artistry. He received Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award in 2015, recognizing “young artists of exceptional accomplishment,” as well as the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2009. He recently completed his third and final season as the inaugural Artist-in-Association with the New York Philharmonic, a position created by former Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, who calls him “the complete artist: a wonderful pianist, a probing intellect, passionately committed, and a capable contemporary-music pianist as well.”

Barnatan is a regular performer with many of the world’s most celebrated orchestras, including the Chicago, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Seattle, Nashville, San Diego, Fort Worth Symphony, Minnesota, Cincinnati, London and Helsinki Philharmonic orchestras, and solo recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall and South Bank Centre, and New York’s 92nd Street Y, among others. He recently played a new concerto by Alan Fletcher with the commissioning LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl under the baton of Ken-David Masur, and he will play it again with the Atlanta Symphony under Robert Spano. Born in Tel Aviv in 1979, Barnatan started playing the piano at the age of three and made his orchestral debut at 11-years-old.

About the concert: stories behind the music
Le Corsaire: Overture
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)

Berlioz may have been inspired by his own sea adventures to write The Corsaire (The Pirate) Overture. On a journey to Italy in 1831, a sudden storm nearly wrecked the small vessel in which he was sailing. Later that year, he tried to drown himself after being jilted by his fiancée. Recuperating in Nice, he sketched the concert overture which he later named Le Corsaire, for James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, The Red Rover (Le corsaire rouge).

Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor, op. 15
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

 First steps:  This concerto, also Brahms’ first work for orchestra, began in 1854 as a “sonata” for two pianos. Composing for two pianos was Brahms’ method for sketching orchestral music and it might have become his first symphony. Ever the intense self-critic, he revised the piece repeatedly and finally decided to convert the work into his First Piano Concerto. After the premiere, public reaction was lukewarm, as the work was neither entertaining nor dazzlingly virtuosic. A profound symphonic statement, it made the audience think.

Love letter: When composing the Adagio, Brahms wrote to Clara Schumann (a brilliant pianist-composer and widow of Brahms’ early mentor, Robert Schumann), “I am painting a lovely portrait of you; it is to be the Adagio.” This is probably as close as this shy man ever came to a declaration of love for Clara.

Variations on an Original Theme (“Enigma”), op. 36
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Party game?  Elgar improvised a theme at the piano, and explored using it to create musical caricatures of some of his friends. His wife and friends were fascinated by the exactness of these characterizations, which they could easily identify. Elgar marked the theme, “Enigma,” and in the score each variation bore some mark or initials to identify the person it illustrated. The composer saved his own variation for last. By musically exploring the personalities of those closest to him, he gained new insight into himself.