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Columbus Symphony Orchestra features pianist playing on one hand

Guest pianist Benedetto Lupo is scheduled to perform with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Jan. 10-11.  Credit: Courtesy of Rolanda Copley

Guest pianist Benedetto Lupo is scheduled to perform with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Jan. 10-11.
Credit: Courtesy of Rolanda Copley

Left-handed jazz is slated to come to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

The highlighted pieces scheduled for performance Friday and Saturday are Olivier Messiaen’s “Les Offrandes Oubliees (Forgotten Offerings),” Maurice Ravel’s “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand” and Anton Bruckner’s original “Symphony No. 9.” Guest pianist Benedetto Lupo is slated to play Ravel’s concerto, which contains notes only to be played by the left hand.

Ravel’s concerto was commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein, a concert pianist who lost his right arm during World War I.

“Wittgenstein went home and got composers to write music for the left hand alone, among which Ravel is probably the best known,” said Christopher Purdy, WOSU Classical 101.1 FM host and pre-concert lecturer for the CSO.

However, this piece is noteworthy because it’s written for one hand. Much of this piece’s character also comes from the fact that it is infused with the sounds of early jazz.

“Around the end of the first world war, jazz went crazy in Paris,” Purdy said. “Ravel instead traveled to Harlem to hear the real deal.”

After Ravel, Bruckner’s original “Symphony No. 9” is to be performed.

“Bruckner was an Austrian composer in the 19th century,” Purdy said. “He worked as a church organist for years, and people flocked to see him perform.”

Bruckner often rewrote his pieces, accumulating different versions of the same piece. The orchestra plans to perform Bruckner’s first version.

“Bruckner was a very modest and humble composer,” said Jean-Marie Zeitouni, music director and conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. “In the early days, his work that was known to the public was greatly rewritten or reorchestrated … the version that we are playing is actually Bruckner’s own first draft.”

Zeitouni has been a professional conductor for more than 15 years.

“Bruckner is demanding of the brass, especially the horn. This is his last symphony, and he never completed it, and that is how we are going to play it. It’s a big work,” he said. “The music collection is almost double, Bruckner and Messiaen have very different musical idioms, but they both wrote from faith and spirituality. The other connection between pieces is the bass. We want to explore how resonances are interpreted in the human ear.”

Arthur Joshua Robinson, a fourth-year in horn performance, encourages everyone to attend the performance.

“You should go if you want a life experience, not just a musical experience … to go and hear a piece like Bruckner and Ravel, it’s like hearing someone’s soul poured out on a piece of paper, and we work, as musicians, to bring them to life,” Robinson said.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform the pieces at the Ohio Theatre, located at 39 E. State St. Performances are set to start each night at 8 p.m., with tickets starting at $25 on Ticketmaster.

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