Dearborn Symphony season climaxes with fire and water

Heather Gu

Abigail Elder

The Dearborn Symphony’s 49th season concludes at 8 p.m. Friday at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, featuring the Dearborn Youth Symphony and winners of the Symphony’s Youth Artists Solo Competition.

The program opens with Smetana’s trip down the river Moldau, ebbing and flowing with riverside dances and roaring rapids in a celebration of the culture of the Czech people.

The program continues with performances by the two winners, violist Abigail Elder, 16, and pianist Heather Gu, 11. Gu will perform Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor, K. 466, Movement 1, Allegro.” Elder will perform William Walton’s “Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, Movement 1, Andante comodo,” on a Alessandrus d’Espine, Turin 1837 viola, on loan from The Mandell Collection of Southern California.

Gu is a multiple prize winner of the MMTA Piano Concerto Competition for five consecutive years (2007-11). She also was a winner of the 2009-10 Michigan SAT Piano Competition, the 2006-07 World Piano Competition in Cincinnati, the Grand-Prize winner of the 2006 International Youth Piano Competition in Texas, and many local contests and festivals.

She also studies violin under Geoffrey Applegate and Emmanuelle Boisvert from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Heather will perform Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor, K. 466, Movement 1, Allegro.”

Elder studies viola with Caroline Coade of the DSO. Elder is a three-year member of the DSO Civic Youth Orchestra where she is principal violist, and has participated in DSO and Cleveland Institute of Music chamber programs. First prize winner and finalist of many state and national string competitions, she has been a three-year participant by audition in The Perlman Music Program (PMP), under the direction of Itzhak Perlman and Toby Perlman, a six-week Summer Program in Shelter Island, N.Y., and two-week Winter Residency in Sarasota, Fla., for approximately 35 young string musicians from around the world, and she looks forward to spending this summer with PMP.

She will perform William Walton’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, Movement 1, Andante comodo, on a viola by Alessandrus d’Espine, Turin 1837, on generous loan from The Mandell Collection of Southern California.

The competition offers young musicians in the five-county metropolitan Detroit area the opportunity to perform with the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra and receive a monetary prize. The competition is intended to discover, recognize and encourage youth with exceptional musical talent who study classical music. Competitors must be under the age of 19 on the day of the competition and may audition on any orchestral instrument including piano.

The Youth Artists Solo Competition, held recently at Marygrove College, was judged by Detroit Symphony cellist Paul Wingert and violinist Laurie Goldman, and Marygrove College piano faculty Jacqueline Csurgai-Schmitt and Sue Vanderbeck.

The competition was funded in part by support from Friends of the Dearborn Symphony and Oakwood Common, and the winner’s cash awards are funded by Frank Padzieski and Anina and Ben Bachrach.

The program continues with Stravinsky’s colorful and brilliant “Firebird” and the rhythmic vivacity, dancing energy and fiery spirit of Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance” with the Dearborn Youth Symphony side by side. Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” will bring the evening and season to a magnificent climax.

The concert is made possible in part by The Exchange Club of Dearborn.

The Symphony has partnered with local restaurants to offer a 20 percent diners’ discount for symphony ticket-holders on concert nights. Reservations are recommended at Andiamo Dearborn, Crave (25 percent off), Kiernan’s & Silky’s, La Pita, Ollie’s, The Dearborn Inn and The Henry.

Tickets range from $30 to $15, and are available by calling (313) 565-2424 or (313) 943-2354. For more information, go to