“Dazzling” Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein performs Copland’s Jazz-Infused Clarinet Concerto with the ESO Mar 3-5
Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein, praised by The New York Times for possessing a “beautiful liquid clarity,” performs Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto March 3-5 with the award-winning Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO), led by Resident Conductor Stephen Squires.
Of Fiterstein, The Washington Post wrote, “Fiterstein treats his instrument as his own personal voice, dazzling in its spectrum of colors, agility and range. Every sound he makes is finely measured without inhibiting expressiveness.” The Clarinet Concerto was commissioned by jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman, who later noted, “I made no demands on what Copland should write. He had completely free rein, except that I should have a two-year exclusivity on playing the work. I paid two thousand dollars and that's real money.” Goodman performed the premiere of the concerto November 6, 1950 on NBC Radio with the NBC Orchestra conducted by Fritz Reiner. The concerto was later choreographed by Jerome Robbins for the 1951 ballet Pied Piper. The March 3-5 ESO concerts also feature Copland’s Billy the Kid Suite, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. For tickets, which start at only $30, see ElginSymphony.Org or call 847-888-4000. Student tickets $12 with an ID.
Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein is recognized for playing that combines flawless technique and consummate musicianship with graceful phrasing and a warm soulful tone. Considered one of today’s most exceptional clarinet players, he has performed in recital and with prestigious orchestras and chamber music ensembles throughout the world. Winner of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant Award, as a soloist, Mr. Fiterstein has appeared with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Lincoln Center, Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, Korea, Polish Chamber Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. He has performed in recital at the National Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center, the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie’s Weill Hall, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Louvre in Paris, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and the Tel-Aviv Museum.
A dedicated performer of chamber music, Mr. Fiterstein frequently collaborates with distinguished musicians and ensembles, and performs at esteemed chamber music festivals and societies. Among the highly regarded artists he has performed with are Daniel Barenboim, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Emanuel Ax, Pinchas Zukerman, Steven Isserlis and Elena Bashkirova; and he has joined the American, Borromeo, Daedalus, Fine Arts, Jerusalem, Mendelssohn, Muir and Vogler string quartets and appeared with the Ensemble Wien-Berlin. Mr. Fiterstein was a member of the prestigious Chamber Music Society II of Lincoln Center from 2004 to 2006, and continues to perform with the CMS each season. He also participated in the Marlboro Music Festival for four summers and toured with Musicians from Marlboro. Mr. Fiterstein has performed chamber music at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress in Washington DC, and at the Louvre in Paris; and he has appeared at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival in Germany, the Storioni Festival in Holland, and the Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival.
Mr. Fiterstein is the founder of The Zimro Project and the Alexander Fiterstein Trio. The Zimro Project, founded in 2008, is a unique ensemble dedicated to incorporating Jewish art music into chamber music programs that is inspired by the Zimro Ensemble, a group that nurtured the music of Jewish composers and culture nearly a century ago in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Alexander Fiterstein Trio was also formed in 2008 with cimbalom player Walter Zev Feldman and accordionist Christina Crowder. The trio regularly performs a program of Klezmer music from the traditional Eastern European Jewish wedding ceremony.
Alexander Fiterstein has worked with composers John Corigliano and Osvaldo Golijov and has had pieces written for him by Samuel Adler and Mason Bates, among others. He performed the U.S. premieres of Henrik Strindberg’s Clarinet Concerto “Minne,” Harrison Birtwistle’s “Pulse Shadows” and Paul Schoenfield’s clarinet trio. A recording of Schoenfield’s trio, performed by Mr. Fiterstein with James Tocco and Yehuda Hanani, was released in May 2010 on the Naxos label, and in 2012, an album of clarinet music by Ronn Yedidia was released, as well as a recording of Weber’s Clarinet Concertos with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra conducted by Martin West.
Mr. Fiterstein was born in Belarus. At the age of two, he immigrated with his family to Israel where he later studied at the Israel Arts and Science Academy. After attending the Interlochen Arts Academy, Mr. Fiterstein graduated from the Juilliard School, and his teachers include Charles Neidich and Eli Heifetz. He is the first prize winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, the Carl Nielsen International Clarinet Competition, and the “Aviv” competitions in Israel; and he is the recipient of numerous awards from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and the Bunkamura Orchard Hall Award (Tokyo). Mr. Fiterstein is the clarinet professor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
Stephen Squires is a musician with a career that blends his passions for conducting, teaching, and performing. Mr. Squires has had the honor to conduct for many exceptional artists, including Frederica von Stade, Samuel Ramey, Janos Starker, Pinchas Zuckerman, Shmuel Ashkenasi, John Browning, Leon Bates, Stewart Goodyear, Richard Stoltzman, Ani Kavafian, Wendy Warner, James Tocco, Kevin Cole, Vadim Gluzman and most of the principal players of the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Orchestras. Fully committed to conducting the music of living composers, he has premiered over eighty new works.
Mr. Squires received his musical training at the Preparatory School of the Eastman School of Music and the Crane School of Music, in his home state of New York. He earned his Master’s degree in Instrumental Conducting/Trumpet Performance at California State University, Northridge. Further conducting studies were with Helmuth Rilling, Maurice Abravanel, Daniel Lewis, Tsung Yeh, and at the Aspen Music Festival. Mr. Squires has conducted recordings for the Delos, Spring Hill (a division of EMI), MEDR, Editions de la Rue Margot, Albany, MSR Classics, and Centaur labels. Stephen Squires is Professor of Conducting in the Music Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University. Prior to this appointment he served on the artist faculty of the Northern Illinois School of Music for nineteen years, where he received the prestigious “Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.”
Mr. Squires’ current professional appointments include Resident Conductor of the Elgin (IL) Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra (Rockford, IL), Music Director of the Millar Brass (Evanston, IL), and Music Director of the Illinois Brass Band (Arlington Heights, IL). He is the former Music Director of the Illinois Chamber Symphony. Mr. Squires has guest conducted the Chicago Symphony, the Syracuse Symphony, the Green Bay Symphony, the Columbus (OH) Symphony and the Chicago Composers Orchestra. In addition, he is an accomplished recital accompanist, freelance trumpeter, and frequent guest conductor at educational festivals throughout the country.
Now in its 66th season, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO) offers programming unmatched for an entertaining, informative and relaxing cultural experience. The ESO has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year an unprecedented four times - in 1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016 - and works to create an enjoyable entertainment experience that goes beyond the magnificent music performed by some of the best musicians in the region. There is accessible, free parking around the Hemmens Cultural Center and valet service available. Area student musicians often perform in the lobby before concerts and patrons can purchase gifts at the Elgin Symphony League Boutique. Pre-concert chats are given by Andrew Grams, guest artists and others one hour before most Classics Series performances and Saturday night patrons are invited after concerts to Mingle with the Musicians at the Elgin Public House. In addition, free Listeners Club lecture/discussions presented by music historian Jim Kendros are offered before ESO Classics Series concert weekends on Wednesdays at 1 pm at the Gail Borden Public Library. Flex passes are available for purchase so that you can choose your concerts at a later date based on your own schedule. And if a patron can’t make a concert, the ESO offers free exchanges to subscribers and to single ticket buyers for a $5 fee. The ESO is a world-class orchestra providing quality musical explorations that are entertaining, hassle-free and conveniently located close to home in the western suburbs. For more information, see ElginSymphony.Org.