The University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra will launch the Hugh Hodgson School of Music Thursday Scholarship Series of concerts with “The Power of Prokofiev,” an evening of works by Sergei Prokofiev, on Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hodgson Concert Hall at the UGA Performing Arts Center.
Included in the program are Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra. The latter will feature David Starkweather, HHSOM professor of cello.
Starkweather grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. He attended the Eastman School of Music, followed by graduate studies with cellist Bernard Greenhouse at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, earning a doctorate degree in 1983. In 1985, Starkweather spent six months in Switzerland with Pierre Fournier, receiving the French cellist’s accolade, “Pure talent as an interpreter at the devotion of music and one of the best cellists of his generation.” Starkweather has been the cello professor at UGA since 1983.
This concert is a celebration of Starkweather’s 41 years of service. Starkweather announced in April that he will be retiring at the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
“David is an exceptional teacher and musician who has been an integral part of the HHSOM for decades,” said Pete Jutras, director of the HHSOM, “We are grateful for all that he has given to the school, our students and the musical world.”
Performing Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra is “largely considered one of the most challenging pieces of cello repertoire,” according to UGA Symphony Orchestra conductor Mark Cedel. “It’s a really exciting experience for the audience.”
Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante for Cello was first performed Feb. 18, 1952, by Mstislav Rostropovich, for whom the piece was also dedicated. Symphony No. 5 was intended as “a hymn to free and happy Man, to his mighty powers, his pure and noble spirit,” according to a statement made by Prokofiev at the time it was composed.
“We’re opening and closing our Thursday Scholarship Series with repertoire that speak to peace and connection,” said Cedel. “At a time when life can be tumultuous, music is a way for us all to join together. We’re building on the energy of community and joy created by last April’s joint concert of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.”
Individual tickets for “The Power of Prokofiev” are $20 for adults and $3 for UGA students with a valid student ID. Tickets can be ordered online at music.uga.edu or by calling the box office at 706-542-4400. Season ticket options are available as well.
The Thursday Scholarship Series began in 1980 and continues the tradition of “Music Appreciation Programs” started by Hugh Hodgson in the 1930s. Proceeds from ticket sales to these concerts and contributions made by patrons are the primary means through which School of Music scholarship funds are raised each year.