The best things come in pairs on November 9th to 11th with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Lead by conductor Kwamé Ryan, the BSO will perform two Mendelssohn symphonies and have the pleasure of performing with Christina and Michelle Naughton, twins and duo-pianists, on Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos.

“Given the fact that we are doing not one but two Mendelssohn symphonies, this concert is obviously going to be a treat for fans of his music,” says conductor Ryan. “I would imagine that even those familiar with his Symphony No. 5 (“Reformation”) will likely never have heard his String Symphony No. 7 live before. It may be a kind of spoiler to say it (because it isn’t obvious to the casual listener), but Mendelssohn was just 13 years old when he finished it. It’s an astonishingly mature achievement even for such a prodigious talent, and it represents an important rite of passage in his development of the skills needed to write the better-known later symphonies.”

Between Mendelssohn’s symphonies, Christina and Michelle Naughton will join the BSO to perform Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos. “The Poulenc concerto never ceases to fascinate us by its ingenious juxtaposition of witty and playful humor with elegant sophistication in the form of influences ranging from Mozart to Prokofiev to Indonesian gamelan music,” say the Naughtons.

The piece illustrates a musical game between two friends and seems to be a piece fitting for the sisters. “We loved music / playing piano and wanted it in our lives forever since the minute we touched the instrument,” say the duo. “We never ‘pursued a career together’ per se, but rather have never looked back since the first time we played together.”

Both the Naughton sisters and Ryan are excited to join the BSO for this special performance. “We’ve heard and have been inspired by performances of the BSO our entire lives, but to be only feet away and collaborate is very exciting for us. To play with such a fabulous group of musicians will be a real treat,” they say.

“I’m really looking forward to discovering the two Mendelssohn symphonies with the BSO, which remains one of my favorite orchestras worldwide,” says Ryan. “When one approaches new works as a conductor, it’s always great to do so with an orchestra one knows and is at ease with. I’m equally looking forward to working with the Naughton sisters for the first time to perform the first piano concerto I ever accompanied as a young conductor.”

In addition to performing with the BSO, Christina and Michelle Naughton are working on future projects. “There is so much great repertoire for both four hands and two pianos, but most of it is rarely played. We are hoping to change this,” they say. “In addition, we love to play contemporary music, especially music that is freshly written. Our upcoming album is a collection of relatively new American works, two of which are world premiere recordings by the composer John Adams.”

Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos will perform at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Friday, November 9th at 8 pm, and Sunday November 11th at 3 pm. Another performance takes place at the Music Center at Strathmore on Sunday, November 11th at 8 pm. For ticket info and more, visit BSOMusic.org.

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Brynn Devereaux
Brynn Devereaux
"Brynn Devereaux is a freelance writer for Baltimore OUTloud. As an arts writer, she enjoys exploring the local arts scene and bringing attention to new books and authors. Brynn is a Scranton expat and a Towson University graduate."