SMSO to launch season with ‘Russian Masters’

Published 1:27 pm Friday, September 10, 2010

Cellist Ian Maksin will perform at Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra’s season opener Sept. 25. Photo submitted

The Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra will return to the LMC Mendel Mainstage Saturday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. to launch its 2010-2011 season, “60 Years Strong.”

Cellist Ian Maksin will perform with SMSO in the season opener, “Russian Masters,” a concert paying tribute to the unique contributions Russian composers have made to music throughout the world. Music director Robin Fountain will host a “Pre-Concert Conversation” beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Mendel Center’s South Training Room. “Pre-Concert Conversations” provide an insight into the music to be performed and sometimes a “cameo appearance” by the evening’s guest artist. They are free and open to all ticket holders.

Russian-born cellist Ian Maksin made his SMSO debut during last summer’s “Casual Classics Series,” where he and pianist Svetlana Belsky performed a tribute concert to legendary Spanish cellist Pablo Casals. This season Maksin is back by popular demand to delight SMSO’s audiences, and in “Russian Masters” can be seen appearing with the symphony as a featured soloist.

The evening’s repertoire will include Mussorgsky’s “Scherzo in Bb,” Khachaturian’s “Cello Concerto” and Rachmaninoff’s “Symphony No. 2” will bring opening night to a stirring and magnificent conclusion.

Of Khachaturian’s “Cello Concerto,” Maksin reflected on his childhood, saying, “When I was 5 years old, my grandmother played an old record for me. It was the Khachaturian ‘Cello Concerto.’ I fell in love with the sound of the cello and with the piece. I was determined to learn how to play the instrument, and it became my life-long dream to be able to perform this beautiful concerto for audiences all over the world. This remarkable work is rarely performed, but in my opinion it is as powerful as any other 20th-century major cello concerti such as those by Shostakovich, Elgar or Prokofiev.”

Maksin gave his first recital at the tender age of 6 in his native St. Petersburg, Russia. An extremely gifted instrumentalist, he has gone on to tour the world as a guest cellist and soloist, performing at some of the most prestigious classical music festivals including Ravinia, Spoleto and the White Nights Music Festival in Russia. He has been featured in broadcast interviews by National Public Radio and its affiliate stations throughout the Unites States.

His performance career encompasses many genres apart from classical music, and has included collaborations with Andrea Bocelli, P.Diddy, Snoop Dogg, Gloria Estefan, Smokey Robinson and many others. As a member of different rock bands, he has appeared on MTV, at the Lollapalooza Music Festival, Milwaukee SummerFest and many more.

Single tickets for the “Mainstage Series” concerts are $36 for adults, $31 for seniors and $8 for students.

For more information, call the symphony office at (269) 982-4030 or go to