Autumn Concert Showcases Virtuosic Talent
By R. Scott Lloyd
- Igor Gruppman, alumnus of Moscow University, has now been conducting the Orchestra at Temple Square for 10 years.
- The orchestra’s fall concert featured Rachmaninoff’s Symphony no. 2 and Haydn’s Cello Concerto no. 1.
- Brother Gruppman acknowledged that the goal of the orchestra is to be instruments in the Lord’s hands to touch the hearts of the audience.
“When we perform inspired music, we are truly tools in the hands of Heavenly Father. We bring His love through music to you. Our goal is to touch your heart, to help you feel that love.” —Igor Gruppman, conductor of the Orchestra at Temple Square
Igor Gruppman celebrated his 10th anniversary as conductor of the Orchestra at Temple Square with a concert showcasing prominent works by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff—whom he characterized as one of his “greatest heroes”—and by Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn.
The concert was presented October 18–19 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. It featured the solo performance of renowned cellist Daniel Gaisford, a Latter-day Saint and a Salt Lake City native, on Haydn’s Concerto no. 1 in C Major for Cello and Orchestra, the opening presentation of the concert.
“I got to know Daniel Gaisford many years ago as an emerging artist,” Brother Gruppman told the audience, adding that the two performed together in San Diego, California, and that he has followed Brother Gaisford’s career as he has achieved international stature.
Brother Gaisford’s beaming countenance and enthusiastic showmanship matched his virtuosity exhibited in the three movements of the concerto, the score for which was thought to be lost until 1961, when a copy was uncovered in the Prague National Museum.
After a standing ovation and intermission, Brother Gruppman introduced the second half of the concert, the orchestra’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony no. 2 in E Minor, op. 27.
“Sergei Rachmaninoff was always one of my greatest heroes,” the conductor told the audience at the outset of the second half of the concert. “A moment of my great pride and utter humiliation have to do with him.”
A native of Ukraine, Brother Gruppman explained that when he enrolled as a young student at the Moscow Conservatory, he entered a magnificent building there and his eyes were immediately drawn to an enormous marble slab extending to the ceiling. Engraved in gold lettering were the names of everyone who graduated from the conservatory with honors, and one of the first names was that of Rachmaninoff.
Brother Gruppman felt proud to walk in the footsteps of the great composer but in the next moment felt “as small as a bug” in comparison.
Rachmaninoff’s music evokes the Russian soul and culture, he said.
Of the symphony the orchestra was about to perform, Brother Gruppman said it was first performed in the United States in 1913 and quickly became a favorite, subsequently performed by some of the greatest orchestras in the country.
On tour last year with another orchestra in China, Brother Gruppman said they were obliged to add Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony to the program in each city because of the great demand for it.
On a personal note, Brother Gruppman said regarding the Orchestra at Temple Square, “Before we go on stage to perform for you, we say a prayer as an orchestra. At this moment, we all feel very privileged, very grateful, and very humble for what we can do on stage.
“They always ask me at the end for a word of advice or last-minute inspiration. Today, I felt a special need to tell them that we should do what we always do. When we perform inspired music, we are truly tools in the hands of Heavenly Father. We bring His love through music to you. Our goal is to touch your heart, to help you feel that love. My encouragement to them is that we don’t give up, that we feel the responsibility and great privilege, and these people always do.”
Noting that it was an emotional occasion for him because of the 10th anniversary of his association with the orchestra, he gave thanks to the orchestra members. “I love them, and I would like to dedicate this performance to them for their amazing humility, for their talents, hard work, and great service to you and to everybody who hears them play.”