Globally-acclaimed pianist Stephen Hough is in Penang this weekend to play with the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra. Hough will be performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor. It is a dramatic, dark composition which Beethoven wrote during the period when he became aware his hearing was irreversibly damaged, and he had acknowledged that it was only music that prevented him from killing itself. It is also Beethoven’s first piece to explore the new-at-the-time top octave on the piano keyboard. We are excited to hear this dramatic piece interpreted by Hough, who has received global acclaim for his outstanding interpretations of the piano repertoire, and who has become one of the most sought-after pianists with major orchestras all over the world, playing with top-notch conductors and celebrated orchestras. Remarkably, English-born Hough is also an award winning poet, writer, painter and composer and the sheer breath of his artistic activities has led the Economist magazine to name him one of only twenty living polymaths in the world. 

Also on the rather Germanic programme for the evening is Handel’s Water Music Suite, with its well-known “Air”. This premiered on 17 July 1717, in response to King George I’s request to German-born court composer Handel for a concert on the River Thames, and thus creates another neat English-German connection for the evening. The evening concludes with Mendelssohn’s
Symphony No.5, the ‘Reformation’ symphony, Interestingly enough, Mendelssohn also was struggling with issues of ill-health when he wrote it, although unlike Beethoven, he made a full recovery.

Penang is delighted to welcome back Ciarán McAuley as Guest Conductor for the concert. McAuley, as former Resident Conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, has worked with the PPO on numerous occasions, and we look forward to hearing the orchestra perform at its highest level with his expert guidance. 

Reformation takes place at Dewan Sri Pinang on Saturday 24th August at 8pm. Tickets cost RM 80 (RM 50 for students) and can be purchased from the PPO box office at the Dewan (012 485 4733, and from Bentley Music on the 5th floor of Gurney Paragon.