MSU Symphony Orchestra
John J. Cali School of Music
Markand Thakar, Conductor | Michael Ludwig, violin
The MSU Symphony Orchestra performs Dvořák’s Romance for Violin and Orchestra, with visiting artist and faculty member Michael Ludwig, Saint-Saëns’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.
Markand Thakar is Music Director of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and a member of the graduate conducting faculty at the Peabody Conservatory.
A former assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Maestro Thakar’s appearances include concerts and a national radio broadcast with that orchestra; as well as concerts with the National, San Antonio, Columbus, Fort Worth, Alabama, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Amarillo, Charlotte, Wichita, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Richmond, Colorado Springs, Greensboro, Illinois, Kalamazoo, Windsor, Flint, Maryland, Ann Arbor, National Gallery, Waterbury, Annapolis, and Florida West Coast symphony orchestras; the Calgary, Louisiana, Long Island, and Ulsan (South Korea) philharmonics; and the Boston Pro Arte, National and Cleveland chamber orchestras; and opera productions with the Baltimore Opera Theater, the Teatro Lirico d’Europa, Opera on the James, and the Duluth Festival Opera. A frequent guest conductor at the Aspen Music Festival, Mr. Thakar has appeared with Yo-Yo Ma and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and with Itzhak Perlman and the Boulder Philharmonic, and is a winner of the Geraldine C. and Emory M. Ford Foundation Award. Familiar to national radio audiences as a frequent commentator for National Public Radio’s Performance Today, he has appeared on CBS This Morning and CNN conducting the Colorado Symphony.
With BCO Thakar has recorded three CDs for the Naxos label, including disks of concertos by Classical Era masters Stamitz, Hoffmeister and Pleyel, and music by Jonathan Leshnoff on the American Classics imprint, named to Naxos’ “Best of the Best” list. BCO traveled to China to perform a series of Viennese New Year’s concerts, and recent a performance in New York earned a warm review from the New York Times, which praised the group’s “warmth and substance.” During his 12-year tenure in Duluth, the DSSO saw dramatic growth in both audience and artistic prominence, to what Minnesota Public Radio called “Minnesota’s other great orchestra.”
Noted internationally as a pedagogue, his two annual intensive conducting programs with BCO have drawn conductors from five continents. His students have won significant conducting positions across North America and internationally, including music directorships with the Aachen (Germany), Winnipeg, Hartford, Eugene, Charleston, Lubbock, Muncie, Williamsport, Amarillo, Young Musician’s Foundation, Lake Forest, Mid-Atlantic, Sioux City, Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Lake Charles, Washington-Idaho, and Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestras; staff conducting positions with the Metropolitan Opera and the orchestras of Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Dallas, Seattle, Saint Louis, Portland (OR), Richmond, Winnipeg, Portland (ME), Buffalo, Phoenix, Charlotte, Kansas City, Canton, Winston-Salem, and El Paso; as well as numerous collegiate positions.
Markand Thakar is the author of three seminal books. Counterpoint: Fundamentals of Music Making (Yale University Press, 1990), also issued in Italian and Czech, uses species counterpoint to promote an understanding of how both composer and performer contribute to the experience of musical beauty. Looking for the “Harp” Quartet; An Investigation into Musical Beauty (University of Rochester Press, 2011) is a study of musical beauty from the standpoint of the composer, performer and listener. On the Principles and Practice of Conducting (University of Rochester Press, anticipated 2016) is a manual for conductors at all levels.
Hailed by Strad Magazine for his “effortless, envy-provoking technique… sweet tone, brilliant expression, and grand style”, Michael Ludwig enjoys a multi-faceted career as a soloist, recording artist, and chamber musician. A highly sought-after soloist, he has performed on four continents, including appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Pops, KBS Symphony in Seoul, Korea, Beijing Symphony, and the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, collaborating with such conductors as JoAnn Falletta, Sir Georg Solti, and John Williams among others. He has recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Lithuanian National Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Virginia Symphony. Ludwig serves as Artist-in-Residence Professor of Violin at Montclair State University’s John J. Cali School of Music and is the Music Director of the Roxborough Orchestra in Philadelphia. Most recently, he served as a jury member for the 2017 HKIVS Shlomo Mintz International Violin Competition and gave master classes at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China.
Ludwig’s discography includes recordings of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, Bruch Scottish Fantasy, and Dvorak Romance with the Virginia Symphony, as well as the Wieniawski Concerto No. 2, Corigliano Red Violin Concerto, and Suk Fantasy with the Buffalo Philharmonic. Ludwig’s recording of the Corigliano Red Violin Concerto with JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic is “hot, sharp, and close to the edge” writes critic Norman Lebrecht. His recording of the rarely performed Dohnanyi Violin Concertos with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra has received extraordinary reviews worldwide, and has revived interest in these neglected romantic works. Ludwig’s discography has drawn critical acclaim from both sides of the Atlantic. Fanfare magazine writes: “His phrasing is so sensitive–it could serve as an object lesson to every budding violinist.” And BBC Music Magazine praises his “persuasive playing, silky tone, sensitivity to colour and flair for golden-age’ style.” Ludwig’s new recordings released in 2014 include the works of Joseph Achron for violin and piano, as well as the Bartok Portrait No. 1 with the Buffalo Philharmonic, both for the NAXOS label.
As a chamber musician, Michael has shared the stage with numerous acclaimed artists, such as Christoph Eschenbach, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Yefim Bronfman, Sarah Chang, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. His recording of the world premiere of Marcel Tyberg’s Piano Trio in F Major was released by NAXOS in August 2010. His chamber music performances include appearances at the Prague Spring Music Festival, New Hampshire Music Festival, and a benefit appearance for the Terezin Music Foundation at Symphony Hall in Boston.
Michael Ludwig has been featured numerous times on Performance Today, a program that reaches approximately 1.2 million listeners on 230 radio stations nationwide. Ludwig’s media credits include live broadcasts at WRTI (Philadelphia) and WAMC (Albany, NY), as well as an appearance on the program “From the Top.” He has been featured on Bulgarian National Radio, Balkan Bulgarian Television, and the Korean Broadcasting System.
Michael studied violin with his father, Irving Ludwig, who was a violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director of the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra.