This preview has been provided by the North Carolina Symphony.

The North Carolina Symphony’s Classical Season opening weekend will feature Music Director Grant Llewellyn and the brilliant pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in performances in Memorial Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m., and again on Friday and Saturday, September 25-26, at 8 p.m., in Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh. The program will feature Thibaudet performing Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, plus Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On the Town, Barber’s Overture to The School for Scandal, and the world premiere of a North Carolina Symphony co-commissioned piece by composer Sarah Kirkland Snider titled Hiraeth.

One of today’s most sought-after soloists, Jean-Yves Thibaudet has the rare ability to combine poetic musical sensibilities and dazzling technical prowess. His talent at coaxing subtle and surprising colors and textures from each work he plays led The New York Times to write that “every note he fashions is a pearl…the joy, brilliance and musicality of his performance could not be missed.” Thibaudet, who brings natural charisma and remarkable musical depth to his career, has performed around the world for more than 30 years and recorded more than 50 albums.

Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Hiraeth, co-commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony and the Princeton Symphony and supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, will draw upon the composer’s deep family ties to Salisbury, N.C., and will incorporate images and video footage of North Carolina scenes by esteemed filmmaker Mark DeChiazza, whose work was made possible by the support of The Robertson Family Foundation and The Margaret C. Woodson Foundation.

The work will also be performed by the Symphony in New Bern in October, 2015, in Salisbury in February, 2016, and in Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center in the spring of 2017 as part of SHIFT: A Festival of America Orchestras. The festival is a collaboration between the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Washington Performing Arts, and highlights both artistic excellence and an orchestra’s relationship with its community.

Snider says that the 25-minute piece for full orchestra is “inspired by themes of memory, innocence, experience, identity, and home. I am interested in real versus imagined ideas of home; the way our sense of home shapes our sense of self, and yet the paradoxical ways in which, as Carson McCullers wrote, ‘we are homesick most for the places we have never known.'”

Recently deemed “among the brightest lights to emerge in recent seasons” (Time Out New York), Snider writes music that has been hailed as “rapturous” (The New York Times), “haunting” (The Los Angeles Times), and “strikingly beautiful” (Time Out New York). In addition to her work as a composer, Snider is Co-Director of Brooklyn-based record label and presenting organization, New Amsterdam Records/Presents. Mark DeChiazza is a director, filmmaker, designer, and choreographer. Many of his projects explore interactions between music performance and media to discover new expressive possibilities. His work can bring together composers, ensemble and musicians with visual artists, dancers, music ensembles, and makers of all types.

Llewellyn, who has served as Music Director since 2004, has led the North Carolina Symphony in innovative performances that include the Blue Skies concerts, two programs that showcased North Carolina traditional music; a staging of the play Amadeus with the PlayMakers Repertory Company; a staging of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in collaboration with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts; and the affecting memorial concert North Carolina Remembers 9/11, in collaboration with WRAL-TV and UNC-TV. He has conducted the North Carolina Symphony in two critically acclaimed recordings for the Swedish label BIS: American Spectrum with Branford Marsalis and a 2010 release with pianist Yevgeny Sudbin. His latest recording with the North Carolina Symphony is 2014’s Britten’s Cello Symphony & Sonata with cellist Zuill Bailey on the Telarc label, described by CD Hotlist as “recommended to all classical collections.”

In addition to stellar performances, North Carolina Symphony concertgoers can enjoy pre-concert talks, post-concert discussions, and “Meet the Artists,” which feature interactive conversations with guest artists and select orchestra members, at many Symphony events. For the Chapel Hill performance on Sept. 24, Dr. Letitia Glozer of UNC will host a pre-concert talk in Gerrard Hall at 6:30 p.m. Before the Friday, Sept. 25, performance in Raleigh, Catherine Brand of WUNC 91.5 FM will host a Meet the Artists session in the Swalin Lobby of Meymandi Concert Hall at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, Sept. 26, Symphony Associate Conductor David Glover will give a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. in the Swalin Lobby of Meymandi Concert Hall.

Tickets to the Chapel Hill Classical Series performance on Sept. 24 range from $10 to $75. Tickets to the Raleigh Classical Series performances on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 25-26, range from $18 to $75. Student tickets are $10. Concert tickets at all performances are also available at the door one hour prior to concert start time.

Other 2015-16 season highlights include Music from the Movies, brought to life by David Glover and the North Carolina Symphony in the opening weekend of the Symphony’s Pops Series on Oct. 16-17, A Baroque Christmas featuring music from Bach, and Handel, including the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah, and “Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular” in December, the beautiful Firebird on Valentine’s weekend, and Beethoven’s Triple and Brahms Double in April, featuring Grant Llewellyn conducting cellist Zuill Bailey, violinist Philippe Quint, and pianist Awadagin Pratt.

Subscriptions to all of the Symphony’s concert series are available online at or by calling the North Carolina Symphony Box Office at 919.733.2750 or toll free 877.627.6724.

Meymandi Concert Hall is located in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., in Raleigh. Memorial Hall is located at 114 East Cameron Ave., on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Weekend Sponsor for the Sept. 25-26 Raleigh concerts is Clancy & Theys Construction. Partners for the 2015/16 Chapel Hill Series include Carol Woods Retirement Community, and The Businesses of Market Street, Southern Village. 

About the North Carolina Symphony

Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony gives more than 200 performances annually to adults and school children in more than 50 North Carolina counties. An entity of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, the orchestra employs 66 professional musicians, under the artistic leadership of Music Director and Conductor Grant Llewellyn, Resident Conductor William Henry Curry, and Associate Conductor David Glover.

Based in downtown Raleigh’s spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and an outdoor summer venue at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, N.C., the Symphony performs about 60 concerts annually in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary metropolitan area. It holds regular concert series in Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines and Wilmington — as well as individual concerts in many other North Carolina communities throughout the year — and conducts one of the most extensive education programs of any U.S. orchestra.

Sept. 24 Concert/Event Listings:

North Carolina Symphony

Jean-Yves Thibaudet Plays Gershwin
Grant Llewellyn, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, 7:30pm
Memorial Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill

Friday-Saturday, Sept. 25-26, 2015, 8 p.m.
Meymandi Concert Hall, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Raleigh

Sept. 24-26 Program Listing

North Carolina Symphony
Grant Llewellyn, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

BERNSTEIN:  Three Dance Episodes from On the Town
  I.   The Great Lover
  II.  Lonely Town (Pas de deux)
  III. Times Square

SNIDER:  Hiraeth for Orchestra (NCS Co-commission/World Premiere)

BARBER:  Overture to The School for Scandal

GERSHWIN:  Concerto in F major for Piano and Orchestra  
  I.    Allegro
  II.   Adagio – Andante con moto
  III.  Allegro agitato
       Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano