If there is one piece of music that Israeli conductor Yaniv Dinur never tires of, it’s “Piano Concerto No. 1,” one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous works. He ranks it among his favorites and always welcomes the opportunity to bring it to the stage.
“It’s definitely in my Top 10, and I can probably reduce that to my Top 5,” Dinur said in a recent telephone interview. “I love the music. I feel very connected to the music. It’s innovative. It’s colorful. I love the relationship between the piano and orchestra.”
Dinur will share his love of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece when he conducts the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Friday night, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Covington and Saturday night, March 9, at 8 p.m. at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts in New Orleans.
The concert will feature award-winning British classical pianist Danny Driver, a one-time resident of New Orleans who is best known for his musical intelligence, imaginative artistry and technical excellence.
Driver first attracted public attention in the United Kingdom in 2001 when he won both the Royal OverSeas League Competition Keyboard Award and the BBC Radio 2 Young Musician of the Year Competition. He went on to distinguish himself at various international piano competitions and with acclaimed recitals at symphony halls throughout England.
In 2009, he delivered the American premiere of York Bowen’s “Piano Concerto No. 3” with the LPO. The resident conductor was his wife, Rebecca Miller, who had signed on with the LPO to help the orchestra rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.
Dinur, director of orchestral activities at American University in Washington D.C., is only 31 years old, yet he has been conducting since he was 19. A pianist since he was a child, he began his conducting career with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, which invited him to perform after observing him in a master class with German conductor Gerhard Markson.
He was later invited to perform with the Israel Camerata Ocherstra in Jerusalem, becoming the youngest conductor ever to conduct an orchestra in Israel.
Since then, he has conducted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; the Symphony Orchestra of Portugal; the State Orchestra of St. Petersburg, Russia; the Sofia Festival Orchestra of Bulgaria; and countless orchestras in the United States – including the LPO, which he conducted in 2011 as part of the League of American Orchestra’s Bruno Walter National Conducting Preview.
“We were six conductors chosen out of a pool of 150, so it was quite an honor,” Dinur said.
He also served in the Israeli Army’s Excellent Musicians Unit, conducting the Education Corps Orchestra and writing musical arrangements for the army’s various ensembles.
Dinur said he is looking forward to his return trip to New Orleans and collaborating with Driver on “Concerto No. 1,” an opus that Tchaikovsky revised three times before settling on the version most often heard today.
The concert will also include Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphonies of Wind Instruments” and Jean Sibelius’ “Symphony No. 6.” As familiar as Dinur is with “Concerto No. 1,” he is barely acquainted with the other two works. Yet, he said he is thrilled that the LPO chose them.
“These are two pieces I think I may have heard performed once in my life,” he said. “But the more I get to know them, the more I fall in love with them.”
Of “Symphonies of Wind Instruments,” he said, “It’s a 10-minute piece, but it’s called ‘symphonies’ plural, because of the different combination sounds. The main motif of the piece imitates the bell of a church. It’s a very colorful piece.”
He described “Symphony No. 6” as strange and quirky, yet charming. “It’s strange in a beautiful way,” he said. “The more I get into it, the more I love it.”
And while it is the least performed of Sibelius’ seven symphonies, he said, “It pulls you in from the very first sound. It’s kind of like when you wake up in the morning from a dream, you don’t really remember what it was about, but you know you dreamed about something and it affected you.”
Tickets to the concerts range in price from $20 to $95 and can be purchased at www.lpomusic.com or by calling the box office at 504-523-6530.