Director finalist will conduct concert on Friday

Director finalist will conduct concert on Friday

URBANA — The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra will present David Commanday, the second of four music director finalists, conducting the Classics II concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Foellinger Great Hall of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

"Musical Travels" is the theme of the program, and it includes:

— George Gershwin's "Cuban Overture."

— Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, with guest pianist Adam Neiman.

— Gioachino Rossini's Overture to "The Barber of Seville."

— Ottorino Respighi's "Pines of Rome."

Commanday, of Peoria, is the founding artistic director and conductor of the Heartland Festival Orchestra. In 2011, the Illinois Council of Orchestras named him professional conductor of the year. He is active as a guest conductor, including overseas orchestras.

He started taking piano lessons when he was 6 and took up the cello soon after that. He graduated cum laude from Harvard University, where he studied psychology, music and languages. He played cello at Tanglewood under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and Aaron Copland; they influenced him to become a conductor.

Neiman began winning piano competitions when he was 15; in 1995, he was the youngest winner of the Gilmore Young Artist Award. The following year, he won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and made his debuts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

He is a two-time winner of Juilliard's Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition and received the Rubinstein Award when he graduated from Juilliard in 1999, the same year he received the Avery Fisher Career Grant.

The CUSO, now in its 53rd season, seeks its fourth music director in the orchestra's history, after Bernard Goodman, Paul Vermel and Steven Larsen. The other finalists are Stephen Alltop of Evanston, Farkhad Khudyev of Los Angeles and Alexander Platt of Chicago. The symphony will announce the new music director and conductor at the end of the season.

Tickets for Friday's concert are $31 for adults, $28 for senior citizens and $5 for students. For information, call 333-6280.