April 24, 2021 · 7:30 PM
Peoria Civic Center Theater
George Stelluto · conductor
James Giles · piano
Star-crossed love, Napoleonic battles, pianistic pyrotechnics, and a lake of mystical swans! Four fantastic Tchaikovsky favorites take the stage for this spectacular PSO season finale.
Selections from Swan Lake
Piano Concerto #1
Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
James Giles regularly delights audiences in important musical centers around the world. Known for his probing and charismatic performances, Giles’s interests range from Beethoven to Bernstein, and from Romantic staples of the repertoire to new music written specifically for him. The 2019-2020 season featured a tour of Denmark and recitals in Toronto, Paris, Naples, Budapest, and Manchester, England. Recent U.S. dates included recitals in Atlanta, Dallas, Tampa, Des Moines, Bloomington, IN, and Chicago.
In an eclectic repertoire encompassing the solo and chamber music literatures, Giles is equally at home in the standard repertoire as in the music of our time. He has commissioned and premiered works by William Bolcom, Stephen Hough, Lowell Liebermann, Ned Rorem, Augusta Read Thomas, and Earl Wild. Most of these new works are featured on Giles’s Albany Records release entitled “American Virtuoso.” His recording of solo works by Schumann and Prokofiev is available on England’s Master Musicians label. He recorded John Harbison’s Horn Trio with the Chicago Chamber Musicians and recently released a recording with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic.
His Paris recital at the Salle Cortot in was hailed as “a true revelation, due equally to the pianist’s artistry as to his choice of program.” After a recital at the Sibelius Academy, the critic for Helsinki’s main newspaper wrote that “Giles is a technically polished, elegant pianist.” And a London critic called his Wigmore Hall recital “one of the most sheerly inspired piano recitals I can remember hearing for some time” and added that “with a riveting intelligence given to everything he played, it was the kind of recital you never really forget.”
He has performed with New York’s Jupiter Symphony (Alkan and Czerny); the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra in Queen Elizabeth Hall (Mozart and Beethoven); the Kharkiv Philharmonic in Ukraine (Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff); and with the Opera Orchestra of New York in Alice Tully Hall (Chopin). After his Tully Hall solo recital debut, critic Harris Goldsmith wrote: “Giles has a truly distinctive interpretive persona. This was beautiful pianism – direct and unmannered.” Other tours have included concerts in the Shanghai International Piano Festival; St. Petersburg’s White Nights New Music Festival, Warsaw’s Chopin Academy of Music; Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Series, Salt Lake City’s Assembly Hall Concert Series, and in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Musikhalle in Hamburg, and the Purcell Room at London’s South Bank Centre. He has given live recitals over the public radio stations of New York, Boston, Chicago, and Indianapolis. As a chamber musician he has collaborated with members of the National and Chicago Symphonies and with members of the Escher, Pacifica, Cassatt, Chicago, Ying, Chester, St. Lawrence, Essex, Lincoln, and Miami Quartets, as well as singers Aprile Millo and Anthony Dean Griffey.
A native of North Carolina, Dr. Giles studied with Byron Janis at the Manhattan School of Music, Jerome Lowenthal at the Juilliard School, Nelita True at the Eastman School of Music, and Robert Shannon at Oberlin College. He received early career assistance from the Clarisse B. Kampel Foundation and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Italy with the legendary pianist Lazar Berman.
The pianist was the recipient of a fellowship grant and the Christel Award from the American Pianists Association. He won first prizes at the New Orleans International Piano Competition, the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition, and the Music Teachers National Association Competition. As a student he was awarded the prestigious William Petschek Scholarship at the Juilliard School and the Arthur Dann Award at the Oberlin College Conservatory.
Also a sought-after teacher, Dr. Giles is coordinator of the piano program and director of music performance graduate studies at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music and during the summers is director of the piano program at the Amalfi Coast Music Festival. He gives master classes and lectures at schools nationwide, including Juilliard, Manhattan, Eastman, Oberlin, Indiana, Yale, and the New England Conservatory. His classes internationally have occurred throughout China as well as at Seoul National University, the Royal Danish Academy of Music (Copenhagen), the Sibelius Academy (Helsinki), the Chopin Academy (Warsaw), the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester) and the Royal College of Music (London).
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.