Kicking off the Colorado Springs Philharmonic's 2017-18 season is acclaimed classical pianist Lise de la Salle, performing Chopin's "Piano Concerto No. 2" as part of a program also featuring Glinka's "Overture to 'Russlan and Ludmilla'" and Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 5."
De la Salle, of France, performs with the Philharmonic on Saturday and Sunday at the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts.
Nathan Newbrough, Philharmonic president and CEO, said the 28-year-old prodigy was a natural choice to open the season.
"The choice of the music comes first," he said. "With that decided, we asked, 'Who's the very best out there to perform this work?' Lise has become a real specialist in the music of Chopin. There is a fantastic style and elegance with her playing that frankly is missed with most interpretations of Chopin's work."
Some performers and conductors consider Chopin's music to be "fluff," Newbrough said.
"We have a maestro (Josep Caballé-Domenech) who takes the music very seriously. We needed a soloist whom matched that."
De la Salle, who made her concert debut at age 9, has performed with many leading ensembles, including the symphony orchestras in London, Vienna, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. Her playing inspired a Washington Post critic to write, "For much of the concert, the audience had to remember to breathe . the exhilaration didn't let up for a second until her hands came off the keyboard."
Newbrough said the concert sets the stage for a season of some of the best music to be performed in Colorado.
The centerpiece of the Philharmonic's 91st season is a 14-concert, six-week festival, "The Best of All Possible Worlds," dedicated to American composer Leonard Bernstein. The festival kicks off in January with Bernstein's first symphony, and it finishes with a Philharmonic Pops presentation of "West Side Story." The classic film will be projected above the stage while the orchestra performs the score.
Also new this season is a long-awaited venue. Three concert weekends will move to the Ent Center for the Arts on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus. The Philharmonic Vanguard performances will be held in the facility, which seats up to 750 and is set to open in January.
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, 476-1602, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM