Chicago Philharmonic Season of Love Finale Preview- An Interview With Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann

The final concert in The Chicago Philharmonic's 2016-2017 season explores the infinite diversity of love in all its forms.

The Chicago Philharmonic; photo by Elliot Mandel

With guest conductor Gerhardt Zimmermann, "Paths of Passion" features the technical and lyrical mastery of violinist Robert Hanford in both Frank Waxman's "Carmen Fantasy" and Antonin Dvorak's "Romance in F Minor", in a breathtaking display of violin virtuosity. Dvorak's "New World", the symphony that astronaut Neil Armstrong reportedly took with him during his succesful Apollo 11 mission to the moon, explores patriotic devotion.

 Zimmermann will present his own labor of love via an intricate transcription of Dimitri Shostakovich's "String Quartet No.7" for chamber symphony.

Richie Hofmann, poet, winner of the 2014 Beatrice Hawley Award, a Pushcart Prize and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, will present his own passionate poetry.                                                                                                                            

Also featured in Dvorak's "Symphony No. 9" will be 5 young musicians from The Birch Creek Symphony Program, a summer music academy in Door County, as part of The Philharmonic's "spotlight mentoring" program.

This multi-faceted collaborative event is an excellent finale to The Chicago Philharmonic's season!

Conductor Gerhardt Zimmermann


"Paths of Passion"

Sunday, April 9, 2017, 3 pm

Pick-Staiger Hall

50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston


Shostakovich/Zimmermann “Chamber Symphony in F# Minor” (after String Quartet No. 7)

Dvorak “Romance in F Minor”

WaxmanCarmen Fantasy”

Dvorak “Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “(New World)


Gerhardt Zimmermann conductor

Robert Hanford violin


Richie Hofmann poet and performer


                                  Members of the Dover Quartet Residency Program
                                  at the Bienen School of Music Northwestern Next! Foyer Music



Robert Hanford, violin


Interview with Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann:

 This reviewer had the opportunity to speak with Gerhardt Zimmermann on the eve of the concert about his style, the program and his transcription of Shostakovich’s “String Quartet No. 7”, known as Shostakovich/Zimmermann “Chamber Symphony in F# minor”.


 The renowned, erudite and affable conductor, Professor of Instrumental Conducting and Director of Orchestral Activities at The University of Texas, Austin, is in his 36th Season as Music Director and Conductor of The Canton Symphony Orchestra, Ohio. He seemed a little surprised when I noted that he was known for his energy and control, but allowed, “I have a deep love of music, and the energy and desire to conduct and to make music, as well as to communicate what I feel the music is saying”. 


Except for the pieces Robert Hanford chose, the Waxman and the Dvorak “Romance”, Zimmermann chose the works for “Paths of Passion”. The Waxman “Fantasy” from “Carmen” is less of a showcase for the Orchestra than it is for the violin. “There is a big difference between soloists in the amount of sound they project”, he stated, noting upcoming rehearsals will tell how this will play out. As to the other Dvorak piece, the “New World”, he advised, “This is as passionate as you can get from any composer”.


In his transcription of the Shostakovich piece, he feels that he “Confers more deeply what Shostakovich was trying to bring forth, the melody and the anti-Russian elements”. He did much research into Shostakovich; “I read testimony”, he said. The other times his transcription has been performed in his presence, “I was thrilled”, he confided. “A number of the performers and audience members really understood what I was trying to say with the performance”. The piece will be played “attacca”, with perhaps only a 20 second pause between the movements.


 When I inquired about his famous use of rubato, asking if it constituted improvisation, he mused, “The only improvisation is to what extent I will vary the tempo. I am freer than most. I like to take time and use a romantic type of phrasing. Just as a singer is always breathing, I advise my orchestra to sing the phrases”.


Poet Richie Hofmann

The concert will also feature members of The Dover Quartet, The Northwestern University Bienen School of Music’s Quartet in Residence, playing in the foyer as part of Northwestern Next!  The quartet is a recent recipient of a $25,000 Avery Fisher Career Grant that provides professional assistance and recognition to talented instrumentalists who have great potential for major careers.


For information and tickets to all the great programs of The Chicago Philharmonic, go to The Chicago Philharmonic   website      



 Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of The Chicago Philharmonic


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