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Young pianist-composer follows in footsteps of Beethoven and Shostakovich

By Herald Mail Media

Mixing things up a bit for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, pianist Michael Brown performed his new work "Flourishes" during a 3 p.m. performance with the orchestra on Sunday.

As promised, the piece moved from slow to fast movements with moments of piano solo mixed in from a performer whom Music Director Elizabeth Schulze described as "extraordinary."

Brown played in front of the orchestra and kept an attentive eye on the group as he waited to interject his next piano parts.

Before the show started, Brown talked to the audience about how he composed the piece, which was commissioned by the orchestra.

"I had a real amazing time working on it with them this week," Brown said.

The Masterworks concert, which also was performed Saturday at 8 p.m., also showcased Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1 in D Major. Schulze said the concert focused on three "brillant young men" who wanted to make the biggest statement possible about who they are, what they know and what they can do.

Beethoven and Shostakovich became legends in their fields, and Schulze recognized Brown for being one who will take the style of music into the future.

Brown, who earned dual bachelor's and master's degrees in piano and composition at The Juilliard School, said previously that he thought about offering a pre-existing piece for orchestra without piano for performance by the MSO, but he liked the idea of challenging himself to write a piece that he also could play.

Brown described his piece as one with "little gestures, little flourishes, spells that grow into larger sections."

Brown has played on four continents at various venues. The New York Times described him as "a young piano visionary."

Before the concert started, MSO Executive Director Michael Jonnes said the orchestra is a nonprofit group that generates a "great deal of good" for the region. He encouraged people to donate to the orchestra's annual fund to support the group.

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