What have a seven-Grammy-Award winner and a 40 year old American composer have in common? Deep religious faith. They are Stephen Hough and James Lee III. Hough is the soloist in Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto with the Omaha Symphony June 5th and 6th. Lee’s 2011 work Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula opens the program. Evidently he intends to evoke the Messiah coming from a celestial source encapsulated within the Jewish harvest festival’s roots. Lee writes “bright, pure music” said the Washington Post. Lee’s compositions include A Place for God’s People, Psalm 61, and Night Visions of Kippur plus he is among many famed composers involved in the Psalms Project of the Soli Deo Gloria foundation, dedicated to promoting such sacred works.His family-inspired piece Papa Lapa was premiered by the Symphony’s Thomas Wilkins who conducts this concert. Devoutly Catholic Hough is also a composer whose Requiem aeternam has been moving multitudes since 2010. Moreover, he’s a writer and painter, celebrated by The Economist as one of 20 living polymaths. The complex, sometime cheery piano concerto in which he solos, has a famed history of its own, considered ground-breaking in Beethoven’s time. Its enduring popularity and familiarity is matched by audience favorite, the exuberant Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, whose spirit is sometimes equated with Beethoven’s sixth (“The Pastoral.”) This sounds like an event suffused with joy.
The Omaha Symphony concert is June 5 and 6 at Kiewit Hall, Holland Center, 1200 Douglas St. Fri. & Sat. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $19-$80 www.omahasymphony.org