To open its 92nd season, the Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony will join musicians throughout the world in celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt.
A three-day festival, running Nov. 10-12, will honor the great Hungarian pianist, composer and conductor, who was born on Oct. 22, 1811. A news release described him as one of history's most important and colorful musicians.
In addition to the orchestra concert, the festival will consist of a piano recital, a one-act comedy and a lecture. Nine works by Liszt will be performed during the festival, along with music by Beethoven, Rossini and Berlioz.
Internationally acclaimed pianist Eugene Gienger, who lives in Custer, will present an all-Liszt piano recital at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10. He will also be the soloist at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the fall concert of the University/Civic Symphony.
Nov. 11 will see the premiere of an original one-act comedy titled PlayLiszt, by Robert Vodnoy and Carleen Jaspers. Vodnoy is the conductor of the Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony.
The play, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will be preceded by a discussion at 6:30 p.m. about the 19th-century painting Liszt at the Piano by Josef Danhauser. The painting is the inspiration for the play and the programming for the entire festival. The discussion will be led by Northern State University art professors Sara Christensen-Blair and Greg Blair and is free and open to the public.
Gienger is the only classical pianist from the Dakotas to have achieved an international reputation as a performer and master teacher. Now back in South Dakota after an absence of 39 years, Gienger presents solo recitals and concertos with orchestras, with spoken program notes and insights aimed at furthering appreciation and understanding of the music. Gienger accepted a piano position in Australia in 1978, and lectured in piano at both the University of Queensland (with tenure), and later in 1997 and following years at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in Brisbane. Gienger is the author of The Mechanics of Piano Technique, which he uses in his work with students.
Gienger has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Bismarck/Mandan Symphony Orchestra, Queensland University Musical Society, Queensland University Symphony Orchestra and the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra. His large repertoire spans all styles and periods and includes several dozen piano concerti. He has performed widely in the U.S. and Australia, and also in Canada and Russia. Gienger holds honors degrees in piano performance from the University of Minnesota and Indiana University, where he was named personal teaching assistant to Menahem Pressler of the world-renowned Beaux Arts Trio.
Tickets for the Nov. 10 recital are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors. Students are admitted free of charge. A Liszt Festival pass is priced at $22 and includes all three events. Tickets are available in advance at Engel Music in downtown Aberdeen and may be purchased at the door.