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Wassermann Festival Concert Series at USU Concludes with Festival Favorite

Thursday, Mar. 27, 2014

pianist Stephen Hough performs at USU's Wassermann Festival and Concert Series

Based in London, international piano artist Stephen Hough provides the final concert of the series at Utah State University's Wassermann Festival of Music. He presents a solo recital Thursday, April 3, 7:30 p.m., USU Performance Hall.

The 2014 Wassermann Festival and Concert Series at Utah State University is about to wrap up a season that has brought world-class pianists to Logan for what has been among the series’ best, and the final concert brings back an audience favorite, Stephen Hough.

Hough first presents a master class at the festival April 2. The evening session, held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at USU’s Performance Hall, offers an opportunity for the public to observe a master pianist and teacher in action. During the session Hough will work with USU pianists, and the public is invited to observe. Tickets are required and are available at the door.

The following evening, April 3, Hough is featured in the festival’s concluding recital at 7:30 p.m., also at the Performance Hall.

“Stephen Hough is one of the finest musicians and pianists performing today,” said Dennis Hirst, Wassermann Festival director. “He is acclaimed not only for his music — both in performance and his compositions — but also for his writing, painting and intellectual acumen.”

Hough is noted as the first classical musician to receive a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship — commonly referred to as a “genius grant.”

“His performances are consistently fresh, imaginative and display an ease that makes the virtuosity seem effortless,” Hirst said. “Mr. Hough appears for the third time at the Wassermann Festival — a first for any artist at the festival.”

The evening’s program is diverse and opens with Six Little Pieces, Op. 19 by Arnold Schonberg, followed by works from Strauss, Wagner, Bruckner and Brahms. The first half of the program includes a collection of smaller works by composers who are better known for their large-scale works, especially Strauss, Wagner and Bruckner. Thus, it will provide a unique opportunity to sample the styles of many composers while not devoting an entire evening to one style, Hirst said.

The first half of the program concludes with Brahms’ Seven Fantasies, Op. 116.

“Brahms referred to these as ‘lullabies of my sorrow,’” Hirst said. “They are beautiful, intricate works that display the full expressive elements of Romanticism in relatively small forms.”

The second half of the program is devoted to all four of the Chopin Ballades, an entirely new musical form developed by Chopin, although it is derived from the narrative ballad, Hirst said.

“They retain certain narrative features — the themes are often strophic and the progression of musical events often seems to follow the literary model of an epic poem; but there is no clear evidence that any of the ‘Ballades’ are based on specific narrative,” Hirst said.

They are, Hirst continued, some of the most popular of Chopin’s piano works, no doubt due to the complexity of emotion communicated and the skilled compositional development of materials which fully reveal Chopin’s creative genius.

The Chopin Ballades are also a fitting conclusion to not only the concert but the 2014 Wassermann season.

“This is our first festival without Irving Wassermann,” Hirst said. “I am particularly grateful that we conclude with these works. They are some of the finest works of Chopin, a composer who emigrated from his native Poland to avoid war, much as Irving Wassermann did a century later.”

Tickets for the Stephen Hough solo recital are available at the Caine College of the Arts Box Office located in the Chase Fine Arts Center, Room 139-B. Reserved seat tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for USU faculty and staff and $12 for students ages 8 and older. Call the box office with questions, (435) 797-8022, or purchase tickets online via the college’s Production Services website.

Detailed information about the Wassermann Festival and Concert Series can be found on the festival’s website.

Related links:

Contact: Dennis Hirst, (435) 797-3257,

Writer: Patrick Williams, (435) 797-1354,

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