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Santa Fe Symphony welcomes award-winning pianist

Pianist Drew Petersen will join the Santa Fe Symphony, for a performance Sunday, March 17.

Pianist Drew Petersen will join the Santa Fe Symphony, for a performance Sunday, March 17.

The Santa Fe Symphony will take listeners on an orchestral foxtrot to Chairman Mao on Sunday, March 17, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

The musicians will play John Adams’ rollicking “The Chairman Dances” before 2017 American Pianist Association winner Drew Petersen tackles Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21. The concert will end with Dvorák’s dramatic Symphony No. 7.

Adams penned his surreal frolic during the writing of his opera “Nixon in China.” It focuses on the notorious Madame Mao, a former Shanghai movie actress, the architect of China’s disastrous Cultural Revolution.

“It depicts a funny, fictional incident in which Madame Mao had been banished from the party and appears at a banquet for Mao,” conductor Guillermo Figueroa said. “It’s a wonderful excuse for John Adams’ music with dance rhythms.”

Twenty-four-year-old Drew Petersen will take to the keys in what many consider to be Mozart’s most difficult concerto. The best-known of his piano works, much of its fame came from its use in the soundtrack of the 1967 Swedish movie “Elvira Madigan.”

“I always think that Mozart’s piano concertos, along with the operas, are some of the most beautiful music he wrote,” Figueroa said. “It’s gorgeous, gorgeous and aria-like.”

Dvorák wrote his Seventh Symphony after hearing Brahms’ stunning Symphony No. 3. “He felt like he wanted to answer back,” Figueroa said. “It’s very dramatic and tense in structure.

“I think it is the greatest of all the nine symphonies Dvorák wrote, the New World Symphony notwithstanding,” Figueroa said. “The Seventh is his most abstract piece in that it uses the least folk elements.”

The composer of the snappy “Slavonic Dances” penned this dark and sonoric symphony in 1885 at the invitation of the Philharmonic Society of London.