Ken-David Masur Conducts Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Britten, Jan. 19-20

Tenor Anthony Dean Griffey and horn soloist Kevin Owen
join the Philharmonic, Jan. 20
RI Philharmonic Youth Orchestra appears Side-by-Side, Jan. 19

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra welcomes guest conductor Ken-David Masur for a program that includes Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, Brahms’ Tragic Overture and Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, featuring tenor Anthony Dean Griffey and horn soloist Kevin Owen. The TACO Classical concert is Saturday (Jan. 20) at 8:00pm.

The Amica Rush Hour concert, on Friday (Jan. 19) at 6:30pm, features Tchaikovsky and Brahms. Friday night’s concert also showcases the popular annual Side-by-Side performance with the RI Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra, the highest level of the Music School’s five youth orchestras. Joining their professional counterparts on stage, the student musicians will perform the Overture to Mikhail Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila.


KEN-DAVID MASUR, Guest Conductor

 “We are thrilled to be able to welcome to The VETS Ken-David Masur, an exciting conductor with many impressive accomplishments—including recent and critically acclaimed performances leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and upcoming engagements with the Munich Symphony, where he is principal guest conductor. We are looking forward to exploring Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Britten and Glinka with such a remarkable talent. What an incredible treat for the young musicians in the Youth Orchestra who will perform Side-by-Side under the direction of Ken-David with the Philharmonic Orchestra during Friday’s Amica Rush Hour Concert.”

David Beauchesne, Executive Director
RI Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School

Tickets are $15-$150 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at or from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence; by phone 401.248.7000 (M-F 9am-4:30pm, closed Martin Luther King Day). On day of concerts, tickets are available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30pm–showtime; Saturday, 4pm-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

Tchaikovsky’s Fourth
TACO Classical Concerts
Saturday, Jan. 20, 8:00pm

Ken-David Masur, conductor
Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
Kevin Owen, horn

BRAHMS Tragic Overture
BRITTEN Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings

Tchaikovsky’s Fourth
Amica Rush Hour
Friday, Jan. 19, 6:30pm
Ken-David Masur, conductor

BRAHMS Tragic Overture
RIPYO Side-by-Side performance of the Overture to GLINKA’s Ruslan and Lyudmila

About Ken-David Masur, guest conductor

“Fearless, bold, and a life-force”—San Diego Union-Tribune
“A brilliant and commanding conductor with unmistakable charisma”—Leipzig Volkszeitung

Currently, Masur is Associate Conductor of the Boston Symphony; Principal Guest Conductor of the Munich Symphony; and Founder/Artistic Director of the Chelsea Music Festival, a two-week multi-media production of new music, art and cuisine. This season, he is conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood and Symphony Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Milwaukee, Colorado, Portland and Maine symphonies, and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Japan. He was previously Associate Conductor of the San Diego Symphony, Assistant Conductor of the Orchestre National de France in Paris, Resident Conductor of the San Antonio Symphony, and the first Music Director of New York’s Bach Society Orchestra and Chorus, which toured Germany and released an acclaimed album of symphonies and cantatas by W.F. Bach, C.P.E. Bach and J.S. Bach. Masur’s conducting mentors include his father Kurt Masur, Larry Rachleff, Stefan Asbury, Christoph von Dohnányi, Charles Dutoit, Jorma Panula and Christopher Seaman.


About Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
American tenor and four-time Grammy-winner, Griffey has captured critical and popular acclaim on opera, concert and recital stages around the world. He appears regularly with the New York, Los Angeles and Berlin philharmonics, the Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, London, Japan’s NHK Symphony and Saito Kinen orchestras, and Orquesta Nacional de España, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo. Griffey has appeared in the world’s most prestigious opera houses in roles including the title roles in Peter Grimes, Idomeneo and Oedipus Rex, Florestan in Fidelio, Erik in Die Fliegende Holländer and Alfred in Die Fledermaus. With the Houston Grand Opera, he created the role of Uncle Billy in Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

RI Phil Orchestra Portraits-10

About Kevin Owen, horn
Musician and educator Kevin Owen performs with symphony orchestras, chamber music groups, swing bands, rock bands, jazz ensembles and in the recording studio. Principal horn of the RI Philharmonic, Boston Pops Esplanade, and Boston Landmarks orchestras, the Boston Lyric Opera and the Boston Philharmonic, Owen has been featured as a soloist by the Boston Pops, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony, the Boston Philharmonic, and many other regional orchestras.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestras, for nearly 60 years, has provided quality orchestral rehearsal and performance experiences for talented young musicians from Rhode Island, nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut. RI Philharmonic Orchestra violinist Alexey Shabalin serves as Music Director and conducts the top-level Youth Symphony Orchestra. For more information, visit or contact Chelsea Anderson at 401.248.7038 or

About the concert: stories behind the music
Tragic Overture, Op.81
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Inspiration: “One of them weeps, the other laughs,” wrote Brahms to a friend, of two overtures composed as companion pieces. With a commission for an “academic” piece for his honorary doctoral ceremony, Brahms balanced the frivolity of that overture with the sober seriousness of another work. He wrote: “I could not refuse my melancholy nature the satisfaction of composing an overture for a tragedy.”

Listen for this: The overture begins with stabbing chords, followed with the sobbing outcry of the first theme; the impulsive transition to a ravishing second theme; stentorian concluding material; and a spiky fugato dominating the development. Rarely has Brahms written so much directly from the heart and plumbed the human soul so deeply.

Serenade for Tenor Solo, Horn and Strings, Op.31
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

Inspiration: In May 1939, a disillusioned and discontented Britten left England to live in the United States. In 1942, he returned to England more cognizant and appreciative than ever of his native roots. For his next two vocal essays, A Ceremony of Carols (1942) and Serenade (1943), he selected British poetry.

Listen for this: In Pastoral (text by Cotton), a falling arpeggio for the voice is answered immediately in the horn. The “scotch snap” rhythm of the strings in Nocturne (Tennyson) makes oblique reference to the Scottish countryside described in the poem, and voice and horn carry on a dialogue in arpeggios, evoking the bugle mentioned in the text. Hymn (Ben Johnson) is a neo-Baroque gigue, featuring virtuosic interwoven acrobatics from horn and tenor. In Keats’ Sonnet, a lyrical adagio, the repeated string harmonies and vocal monotone in the final line suggest drowsiness, as the horn player heads offstage for the Epilogue.

Symphony No.4 in F Minor, Op.36
Peter I. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Inspiration: After a loveless marriage, attempted suicide and subsequent nervous breakdown, Tchaikovsky’s doctors ordered him to rest and recover in Europe. The Fourth Symphony began to take shape during his recuperation in Venice and San Remo.

Listen for this: Tchaikovsky wrote the following to his patron about the Introduction: “The seed of the whole symphony. . . is that fateful force which prevents the impulse to happiness from attaining its goal. . . .Daydreams little by little envelop the soul completely. Everything gloomy, joyless is forgotten. There she is, there she is — happiness! No! These were daydreams and fate wakes you from them.”

About the fourth movement: He also wrote, “If within yourself you find no reasons for joy, look at others. Go among the people. . . do not say that everything in this world is sad. There are simple but strong joys. Rejoice in others’ rejoicing. To live is still possible!”