Gavin George, a 14-year-old piano prodigy will be the guest performer at the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s 74th season opener. CONTRIBUTED

Piano prodigy to guest in Springfield Symphony season debut

To merely look at Gavin George would be to see a youngster. To hear his talent would make one imagine the piano prodigy was much older and more experienced than his 14 years.

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will open its 74th season with George as guest performer for its first MasterWorks show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

Maestro Peter Stafford Wilson, the Springfield Symphony conductor, previously worked with George at Columbus area symphonies and knew he’d be a good fit here to take on Schumann’s “Piano Concerto in A minor” on the Kuss Auditorium’s Steinway Model D Concert Grand Piano.

The Steinway underwent renovations to restore it to its original quality and will be a celebrated part of this season’s MasterWorks series.

“Peter is wonderful to work with and has an ability to bring out and inspire the best of everyone he works with,” George said. “He excels at creating a strong synergy between the orchestra and the soloist, even driving to Cleveland Institute of Music to sit in on my final lesson to get a better understanding of my interpretation.”

While George enjoys performing a solo repertoire as it allows him more control, he also likes the added dimension of working with 80 or more musicians in an orchestra working toward a unified goal and sharing their passion for music with the audience, George said.

An Ohio native, George has played Carnegie Hall twice and in Europe, but location is inconsequential.

“The pre-show excitement and nerves are there no matter where I perform, and once the performance begins my goal is just to be able to relax, become the music and bring it to life for the audience,” he said.

While his talent separates him from his teen peers, George still shares many of their interests. When not performing, he likes sports including skiing and tennis, playing video games such as Minecraft with his younger brother and reading Russian or dystopian literature and mathematics.

“Our audiences have long enjoyed witnessing the early stages of promising careers and Gavin will be no exception,” Wilson said. “He has a lot to say, even at his young age and our audience will be impressed with the technique and musical intellect of this prodigious talent.”

The symphony will also perform Elgar’s “Cockaigne, Op. 40” and Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4.”

The evening will begin with the Opening Notes program in the Turner Studio Theatre, led by Wilson and George, and the Performance Prelude will feature a youth trio from the Springfield Youth Symphony in the Davidson Grand Lobby, both at 6:45 p.m.

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