Music teachers have long drilled into their students the importance of learning the Three Bs, but when the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presents its first area offering of 2016 at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, audiences will be forgiven for thinking they stand for Beethoven, more Beethoven, and Bang on a Drum.
This Saturday night sees the Count’s castle serving as host venue for the world premiere of a specially commissioned piece by Richard Danielpour, the prolific American composer who’s frequently sought after to create music for some of the nation’s leading orchestras.
While Danielpour’s ever-growing body of work ranges from solo piano pieces and string quartets to full-blown choral oratorios (and even an operatic collaboration with Toni Morrison), the concerto entitled “The Wounded Healer” finds the native New Yorker exploring the oft-overlooked precincts of the percussion section. To bring “Healer” to gloriously resonating life, NJSO conductor Jacques Lacombe has enlisted the solo-spotlight services of Lisa Pegher, the Louisiana-based percussionist whose dynamic onstage personality and multimedia/ multi-instrumental skills have served to open up new possibilities for malleted masterworks in symphonic settings.
Pegher’s performance of “The Wounded Healer” will be bookended on the 8 p.m. program by a pair of symphonies from the quill of the immortal Ludwig van Beethoven — including his Symphony No. 1, a work of youthful exuberance, precocious experimentation and “Mozartean grace” that seems at odds with the dour, scowling bust that sits atop Schroeder’s piano. The concluding Symphony No. 4 continues in a similarly upbeat vein, and the evening’s performance is preceded at 7 p.m. by an onstage “classical conversation” in which the featured musicians discuss the selections in illuminating fashion.
Take it here for tickets (starting at $20) — and watch for the NJSO’s return to the Basie stage on February 12, when Broadway blonde bombshell Megan Hilty joins conductor Todd Ellison for a Valentine’s voyage through the Great American Songbook.