Pianist Emanuel Ax returns to the Erie Philharmonic

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Maitham Basha-Agha

The Erie Philharmonic will open the renovated Warner Theater on January 23 with a first concert featuring pianist Emanuel Axe. The program will feature a variety of selections, including Christopher Rouse’s ‘Rapture’, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Igor Stravinsky’s famous work, 1945’s ‘The Firebird: Suite’.

Ax has had a history with the Erie Philharmonic dating back to 2017 when he made his debut there. “We knew we couldn’t mess it up and we really, really needed to deliver something big,” Philharmonic Orchestra Executive Director Steve Weiser said. “And we just had a really good relationship with Emanuel Axe.”

Bringing his enlightened experience to the world at the Warner Theatre, Ax has previously performed with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, collaborating with Grammy-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Leonidas Kavakos. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, having won awards for his interpretations of Haydn, Brahms and Beethoven.

In the description of the program, the reasons why Ax chose the part are clearly stated. “Ax chose Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, an almost perfect combination of rhapsodic romanticism and sinuous melodies. Chopin’s concerto brims with his youthful creativity, with a Viennese waltz and a Polish mazurka finale.”

Ax was a last minute addition to the program, as the previously featured soloist had to withdraw due to a schedule change. Five minutes after calling his agent, the orchestra had locked up their big guest, which Weiser attributes to the rapport Ax was able to establish with Erie Phil music director Daniel Meyer in 2017.”[Meyer] is such a respected force in the music community,” Weiser said. “I think people love working with him. I really think that says a lot for us.”

3-5:30 p.m. // Warner Theater, 811 State St. // $32-$52, $10 for students // For tickets and more information, call 814-455-1375 or visit www. eriephil.org

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