Houston Symphony Program Continues With Former Music Director, While Scheduled Violinist is Replaced

Jennifer Koh will step in to replace the ailing Leila Josefowicz.
Jennifer Koh will step in to replace the ailing Leila Josefowicz. Photo by Christina Walker

It doesn't take much to convince any true lover of the Houston Symphony to get excited about attending a concert, but this weekend is special with former Houston Symphony Music Director Christoph Eschenbach returning to Jones Hall to lead the orchestra.

Unfortunately the weekend was also going to feature guest violinist Leila Josefowicz in a work written expressly for her, as well as a towering romantic work by Austrian composer Anton Brucker in the program Eschenbach and Josefowicz. But on Tuesday the Symphony announced that Josefowicz was "forced to withdraw from the performance due to illness."

The Symphony announced that Chicago-born American violin star Jennifer Koh would be the soloist in Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto in Josefowicz's place. So it will be Eschenbach Conducts Bruckner.

As the symphony's music director from 1988 to 1999, Eschenbach succeeded in significantly strengthening the orchestra’s national and international reputation. Renowned for his prowess conducting late Romantic composers, he will conduct Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, Romantic. Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony is full of lyrical melodies, intense harmonies, and thundering climaxes inspired by the imagery of medieval romance, including vivid images of knights riding forth from castles and the sounds and sights of nature.

According to the Symphony,  Koh is known for expanding the standard concert repertoire by commissioning new works. "This season alone, she performs the Salonen Violin Concerto (with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra), Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 2, and Ligeti’s Violin Concerto (with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra), as well as Bernstein’s Serenade (with the Philadelphia Orchestra), Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (with the Los Angeles Philharmonic), and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons," a press release says. 

Among other awards, Koh was named Musical America’s 2016 Instrumentalist of the Year. She was also in residence at Cornell and Tulane in October and is a member of the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, a scholarship program for high school students.

The Symphony's program is scheduled at 8 p.m. on February 28 and March 2, and 2:30 p.m. on March 3. at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit $25 to $99.
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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd