ORT Concert Debuts a New Generation of Musicians

29-year-old conductor Niklas Benjamin Hoffmann

Orchestra della Toscana (ORT) is back with a concert again, and the protagonists just keep getting younger and younger: the ages of the newest headliners add up to a total that is below 50.  The ensemble and the soloists will perform at Teatro Verdi, Thursday, March 28 at 9 pm, and in Figline Valdarno (a small town in the province of Florence) on March 29 at 9 pm.

The setlist reflects contemporary taste as well as tried-and-true classics.  The first selection will be “Moriana” (2015), a tranquil and delicate piece, composed by Carlo Boccadoro, the founder of Italy’s modern music festival Play It! The next piece will be “Concerto n.3 for piano and orchestra op.26” by Sergey Prokofiev, who was nicknamed the “Cossack Chopin.”  A neoclassical but also a vibrantly modern piece with neoclassical overtones, the composition centers around the piano.

The ORT will end on a selection both classic and classical: “Symphony n.1 op.21” by Ludwig van Beethoven, the basis on which all following composers have since built orchestral music upon while still referencing the past.  The work is similar to Haydn’s final symphony: quick and ambitious, much like the orchestra playing it.

The ORT headliners for this series of performances are both below 30, younger than two of  the compositions on the program. Alexander Malofeev, 17 years old, is hailed as one of the great piano virtuosos of today’s age. He rose to fame when he won Grand Prix of the International Competition for Young Pianists “Grand Piano Competition” in 2016 and has since won the Best Young Musician of 2017 at the International Piano Festival of Brescia and Bergamo.  He was also honored with the “Young Yamaha Artist” award in 2017 as well as the opening act of the 30th anniversary of the Meesterpianisten Series in Amsterdam.

The evening’s conductor, Niklas Benjamin Hoffmann, is 29 years old; totaled together, their ages only reach 46. Hoffmann won the Donatella Flick & LSO Conducting Competition in London in November 2016, gaining international attention and hence was awarded with the position of the Assistant Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. Since then, he has been been a guest conductor for ensembles such as the Italy’s Haydn Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, and Germany’s Staatsphilharmonie.

Teatro Verdi charges €16 for seats in Section I and €13 for Section II, available online or at the door.  (katy rose sparks)