C-U Symphony opens season Saturday

C-U Symphony opens season Saturday

URBANA — The first of four conductor finalists for the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra will conduct the ensemble's first classic concert of its 53rd season at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Also during the concert, Kip Pope, president of the orchestra's board of directors, will receive from the Illinois Arts Council the Board President of the Year Award.

Also, Helen Jahn, a past president and longtime member of the board of the C-U Symphony Guild, will receive an honorable mention for Volunteer of the Year.

Farkhad Khudyev, the conductor finalist, will lead the orchestra in the performance of the following program, which has the theme "Resurrection":

— Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90.

— Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622, with Emil Khudyev, clarinet.

— Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68, also known as the "Pastoral."

In its 53rd season, CUSO will perform four classics concerts, one holiday concert and two youth concerts, all at Krannert. The 2012-13 season is especially exciting as the symphony will present finalists for the position of its next music director, only the fourth in its history after maestros Bernard Goodman, Paul Vermel and Steven Larsen.

Besides Khudyev, who lives in Berkeley Heights, N.J., the other finalists are Stephen Alltop of Evanston, David Commanday of Peoria and Alexander Platt of Chicago. The orchestra will announce its new music director/conductor at the end of the season.

Khudyev comes originally from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where he first studied violin and composition with Zinaida Ahmedzhanova and Vera Abaeva at the Special Music School for the most gifted musicians in the country.

He distinguished himself at age 10 as the youngest performer ever selected to play with the National Violin Ensemble of Turkmenistan. At 12, he won a scholarship to attend the New Names Festival in Suzdal, Russia, sponsored by the Moscow Conservatory. He was named one of the most promising young musicians at the festival.

Khudyev came to the United States in 2001 on a full scholarship from the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he studied with Paul Sonner, Michael Albaugh and Yoshikazu Nagai, then completed his bachelor's degree in music on full scholarship at the Oberlin Conservatory, studying with Milan Vitek and Bridget Reischl.

He received his master's degree in orchestral conducting from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Shinik Hahm. Khudyev is the winner of the coveted grand prize and the gold medal of the 2007 National Fischoff Chamber Music Competition as the member of Prima Trio.

He has toured the United States and Europe, receiving acclaim as both a violinist and composer. He received an honorable mention from the 2004 ASCAP Foundation for his symphonic work "Turkmenistan."

In 2006, he won a prize at the 30th annual Glenn Miller competition in Clarinda, Iowa, the legendary musician's birthplace. His other awards include the Neil Rabaut Prize, Yale Chamber Music Society Competition Winner and a debut performance of his trio "Fleeting Miniatures" at the Tribeca New Music Festival in New York.

Khudyev has served as the music director of the New Haven Chamber Orchestra and of the Saybrook Orchestra at Yale University, as assistant conductor of the Yale Philharmonia and the New Music New Haven ensemble, as assistant conductor of the NOYO Orchestra as well as the guest conductor of the Yale Symphony Orchestra.

Recently, he was invited to be one of 10 semifinalists from around the world to participate in the First International Chicago Symphony Orchestra Sir Georg Solti Conducting Competition and Apprenticeship with Riccardo Muti. Currently, Khudyev serves as the artistic director and conductor of the New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra and the principal guest conductor of the National Orchestra of Ashgabat.

Recently named as the Vandoren Emerging Artist, Khudyev has distinguished himself as a star clarinetist. His other recent achievements include the Thomas Daniel Nyfenger Award from the Yale University as the best wind player and the 2010 Gino B. Cioffi Memorial Prize from the Tanglewood Music Festival.

Tickets for the concert are $31 for adults, $28 for senior citizens and $5 for students and youths and may be purchased by calling the Krannert ticket office at 333-6280.