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New York Festival Orchestra – INVITATION and PRESS RELEASE, March 5, 2015

You are cordially invited to the 2014-2015 Season Inaugural Concert,
“Mostly Beethoven Festival”
Hideaki Hirai, conductor
Ivan Donchev, pianist
performing the works of
Beethoven, Mozart, and Francesco Marino

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 7:30 PM
Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center,
129 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023
Tickets: $30; $20 for students/seniors
Reservations: 212.501.3330 or at the Merkin Concert Hall box office
We are most grateful if you spread this concert information on your media, newsletter or mailing list.
For any inquiry or request of an interview on your media, please feel free to contact us at below:
 Tel. +1-718-871-5041
Kalin Ivanov, Executive Director/Principal cellist
New York Festival Orchestra
Hideaki Hirai, conductor
Ivan Donchev, pianist
plays Beethoven, Mozart, and Francesco Marino

Thursday, March 5 at 7:30 PM
Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center, 129 West 67th Street
Tickets: $30; $20 for students/seniors
Reservations: 212.501.3330 or at the Merkin Concert Hall box office

The NEW YORK FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, under the baton of music director/conductor Hideaki Hirai, will appear March 5 at Merkin Concert Hall in the “Mostly Beethoven Festival,” performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major; Beethoven’s Piano Concert No. 5 in E-flat major with brilliant young pianist Ivan Donchev, a pupil of Aldo Ciccolini;
Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” by Mozart; and U.S. premiere of “Misteri” (Mysteries) for Piano and String Orchestra by contemporary Italian composer Francesco Marino.
“Misteri” takes the form of a structured dialogue between string orchestra and piano.  The initial thematic material in the high register returns towards the end, amplifying it as in “Unanswered Question” by Charles Ives, leading up to an emotional climax in which the piano is the protagonist.

The New York Festival Orchestra debuted in December 2013 in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall to a sell-out audience, with a program that included the monumental Ninth Symphony by Beethoven, which Maestro Hirai conducted entirely from memory.

HIDEAKI HIRAI, who has “a talent deeply ingrained in his genes” (The Den), is one of the
most gifted young conductors from Japan.  He was born into a celebrated musical family, and studied piano, violin and composition with his grandfather, composer Kozaburo Hirai and cello with his father Takeichiro Hirai, noted cellist whom Pablo Casals designated as his successor.   Hideaki graduated from the University of  Rochester (New York) with a Bachelor’s degree in political science, and studied conducting under David Effron at the Eastman School.  He completed his Master’s degree in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory of the John’s Hopkins University under Frederik Prausnitz, followed by further studies under Otakar Trhlik at the Janacek Academy of Music (Czech Republic) and his mentor Sir Colin Davis in London.

Highlights during the 2012/13 season include his sensational debut at the Wiener Staatsoper, immediately followed by a successful return during the 2013/14 season, and his successful debut in Salzburg for the Austrian premiere of his own acclaimed opera Princess from the Moon (Kaguya-hime).   In December 2013 “Maestro Hirai made a remarkable Carnegie Hall debut” (The New York Culture Examiner), with rave reviews that called him “especially impressive, dynamic, confident, justly deserving of the standing ovation” (The New York Concert Review)  conducting the Beethoven 9th Symphony with the New York Festival Orchestra (NYFO).  Following that success, NYFO appointed him Music Director and Conductor, starting with the 2014-15 season.

Since 1998, Hirai has collaborated with the Czech Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra both in the Czech Republic and abroad, and now serves as Principal Guest Conductor.  He has conducted numerous orchestras in Europe and Asia, including the Danish National Radio Symphony, Janacek Philharmonic, Karlsbad Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, the Martha Argherich Music Festival in Beppu, Japan, and more.   In 2001 Mr. Hirai was chosen by Lorin Maazel as one of the ten promising conductors in Asia.

Also known as an opera conductor, Maestro Hirai has been a frequent guest conductor with the New National Theater in Tokyo, and is composer of the 2003 opera Princess from the Moon, which received rave reviews in performances in Australia, Tokyo, and Prague, with a U.S. premiere scheduled in Los Angeles in August 2015.   His second and third operas, True Love of Komachi and White Fox were equally successful.

IVAN DONCHEV ”…is gifted with extraordinary musical and instrumental skills,” remarked famed pianist Aldo Ciccolini, with whom Donchev has a duet program that debuted at the Fenetrange Music Festival in France.  The pianist began his musical studies at the age of five in his native Bulgaria and made his concert debut with the Burgas Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of twelve, performing Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D.   In 1997 he was awarded “Talent of the Year” by the city of Burgas.    Donchev is a top prize winner of 19 awards in Bulgaria, Dublin, Romania and Italy.  At the age of 16, Ivan won the “Chopin Prize” by the Chopin Society in Darmstadt, and made his international debut at the famous Gasteig Hall in Munich, initiating a brilliant career.   He has been described as “refined and concentrated” (Qobuz Magazine, France), “full of temperament” (The Darmstatder Echo, Germany) and gifted with “impeccable technique and remarkable ability to excite” (Il cittadino, Italy).   Donchev has appeared in concert in Bulgaria, Germany, UK, Italy, Romania, France, Slovakia, Ireland, and South

Now a resident of Rome, Donchev has guested with orchestras throughout Europe, including the Florence Chamber Orchestra, Kronstadt Philharmoniker, Mozart Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra, and Razgrad Philharmonic, among others.   His many recordings include the world premiere of Vito Palumbo’s Quadro Sinfonico Concertante, as well as Tchaikovsky and Liszt.  His last CD (Beethoven piano and violin sonatas recorded with violinist Ivo Stankov) received five stars from the UK magazineMusical Opinion.

FRANCESCO MARINO (composer) studied composition, piano and band instrumentation in Italy and is a prolific composer of chamber music, which has been played by the Symphony Orchestra MAV of Hungary, Windsor Symphony of Canada, Philharmonica “Mihail Jora” Bacau of Romania, Philharmonica Khmelnitsky in Ukraine, and many more.   The native of Naples has also composed for short films and documentaries, and has made many recordings that are played throughout the world.

Marino was artistic director of the Festivals “Apollo e Dioniso,” and  “Ascolta la Ciociaria,” and organizer and director of cultural events.  He edited the presentation of more than 60 Italian and European premieres, and has taught music courses at Tor Vergata University in Rome.

His awards and prizes include Certificate of Honourable Mention in the 2005 edition of the International World Composers Competition, and he has been awarded the following titles: the honour of Knight of the Order by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano; “Badge of honour for the wounded during service,” by the Ministry of Defence; “and “Silver Cross” for his services rendered in the Carabinieri Corps.

For more information about the New York Festival Orchestra, please contact:

Kalin Ivanov, Executive Director
New York Festival Orchestra
Phone: 718.871.5041