The National Arts Centre Orchestra’s fifth Mark Motors Audi Signature Series concert – an all-Beethoven program entitled Biss & Beethoven – features Pinchas Zukerman and white hot rising star pianist Jonathan Biss

The fifth Mark Motors Audi Signature concerts of the season – entitled Biss & Beethoven – will be performed on Wednesday February 2 and Thursday February 3 at 8 p.m. in Southam Hall.

Before the concert, Pinchas Zukerman and Jonathan Biss will perform Beethoven’s Sonata No. 5 in F major for Violin and Piano, Op. 24, “Spring” at 7 p.m. onstage in Southam Hall; admission is free. After the concert on February 2 – also onstage in Southam Hall -- writer and broadcaster Eric Friesen will chat with Pinchas Zukerman and Jonathan Biss, and the audience will be invited to ask questions.

The program for the evening includes:
BEETHOVEN      Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21
BEETHOVEN      Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36
BEETHOVEN      Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73 “Emperor”

Written in 1800 on the threshold of a new century, Beethoven’s First Symphony is a beautiful blend of the classical style and a bold step into the future, encompassing sophisticated harmonic adventures, increased emotional intensity, and an emphatic sense of force and aggressiveness. Two years later, while completing his rambunctious Second Symphony, the emotionally troubled composer also penned a heartbreaking personal confession that revealed near-suicidal anguish over his growing deafness. In great contrast to his personal despair, the work’s mood is joyful and extroverted. One of Beethoven’s lesser known works, listeners are invariably amazed that the masterwork of scope and grandeur is also boundlessly energetic, abounding in broad emotional horizons, robust humour, and dramatic surprises.

Jonathan Biss will play Beethoven’s hugely famous “Emperor” piano concerto in this concert; though composed amid the chaos of Napoleon’s occupation of Vienna, its music remains defiant, rebellious, triumphant … infused with the spirit of heroism, and a stirring testament to man’s will to survive in trying times. The pianist says, “The fifth Piano Concerto is one of the finest and most powerful expressions of one of Beethoven's essential qualities … this concerto is pure exhilaration. In it, Beethoven the eternal optimist is at the forefront, and even in its most ruminative moments, the music communicates, above all, joy. While much of this manifests as a kind of heroism, the piece's most striking moment might be the opening solos of the slow movement, where the sound of the piano must shine like the moon -- an unimaginably beautiful dreamscape. Playing this work is to experience the sort of elation that only Beethoven can provide.”

Jonathan Biss is a third-generation musician. His Israeli-born parents are violinist Miriam Fried and violist and violinist Paul Biss, and his paternal grandmother is cellist Raya Garbousova, for whom Samuel Barber composed his Cello Concerto in A minor. Jonathan also has a strong connection with Maestro Pinchas Zukerman, whom he has known virtually all his life. Pinchas was not only a roommate of Jonathan’s father at one time, but he also performed extensively with his mother. Only 30, he has been active in musical life for more than a decade as recitalist, concerto soloist, and chamber player. Prior to his recital debut at Carnegie Hall on January 21, 2011, Allan Kozinn wrote in The New York Times, “His reputation as an eloquent interpreter with a powerful technique has been underscored with recordings for EMI Classics and Wigmore Hall Live, and his elegant writing about music, both on his blog and on other music sites, has established him as one of his generation’s most serious musical thinkers.”

Jonathan’s career has been soaring since he last played with the NAC Orchestra in January 2009. From January until May 2011, he is on a recital tour that will take him across the United States as well as to Germany, London, and Hungary. Mr Biss will also be the special guest artist when the NAC Orchestra plays at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on February 5.

PRE-CONCERT MUSIC – 7 p.m. – Southam Hall – free admission
Pinchas Zukerman, violin, and Jonathan Biss, piano, will perform Beethoven’s Sonata No. 5 in F major for Violin and Piano, Op. 24, “Spring”

POST-CONCERT TALKBACK – February 2 only – Southam Hall
Writer-broadcaster Eric Friesen hosts a chat with Pinchas Zukerman and Jonathan Biss

The NAC Orchestra performs Biss & Beethoven in Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre on Wednesday February 2 and Thursday February 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.45, $31.21, $42.51, $53.81, $64.57, $75.33, and $94.17, for adults and $11.38, $16.76, $22.41, $28.06, $33.44, $38.82, and $48.24 for students (upon presentation of a valid student ID card). Tickets are available at the NAC Box Office (in person) and through Ticketmaster (with surcharges) at 613-755-1111; Ticketmaster may also be accessed through the NAC’s website

Subject to availability, full-time students (aged 13-29) with valid Live Rush™ membership (free registration at may buy up to 2 tickets per performance at the discount price of $12 per ticket. Tickets are available online ( or at the NAC box office from 10 a.m. on the day before the performance until 6 p.m. on the day of the show or 2 hours before a matinee. Groups of 10 or more save 15% to 20% off regular ticket prices to all NAC Music, Theatre and Dance performances; to reserve your seats, call 613-947-7000, ext. 634 or e-mail

Our latest web offering -- coming soon -- NACmusicbox TIMELINE 200 orchestral works, 80 Canadian compositions, 1 interactive TIMELINE. Explore unlimited music connections and discover Canada's contribution to orchestral history. The interactive TIMELINE includes the addition of 65 Canadian works thanks to financial investment by the Virtual Museum of Canada at the Department of Canadian Heritage. We also acknowledge our partner CBC Radio 2 for providing broadcast-quality recordings of the NAC Orchestra’s archival performances.

For additional information, visit the NAC website at

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Gerald Morris
Communications Officer, NAC Music
613-947-7000, ext. 335


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