Tonight on GPB Radio, meet conductor Kwame Ryan. He was born while his Trinidadian parents were visiting Toronto. They moved to Africa when he was an infant and eventually fled Idi Amin's Uganda. Kwame grew up back in Trinidad. He knew from age 6 that he wanted to be a conductor, however, and since Trinidad didn't offer enough opportunities, he left at 14 for boarding school in England.
Now Kwame Ryan has built a conducting career in Europe - he's in his first season leading orchestra in Bordeaux, France - and he's starting to guest conduct in America too. In November, he first led the Atlanta Symphony and we hear that concert tonight.
As Kwame Ryan explains, Robert Schumann was recovering from a mental breakdown when he wrote his Symphony No. 2, and the piece itself reflects struggle back to health and hope. That's the first half of the program.
In the second half, violinist Leila Josefowicz joins the Atlanta Symphony for Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Leila is a gutsy player and a down-to-earth person. She explains what makes the piece so challenging for the soloist, and why she wrote timpani accents into the new cadenzas she composed for it, and she talks about how thrilled her son was to learn that another great composer, Mozart, was a potty-mouth.The ASO is on GPB Thursday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 10 p.m.