See the classical music superstars of tomorrow take the stage of the Moss Arts Center with a performance by the extraordinary young musicians from the Curtis Institute of Music, one of America’s most prestigious music conservatories, on Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m.

The Curtis Symphony Orchestra performs in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.

During this first tour of the U.S., the orchestra will perform under the baton of Osmo Vänskä with renowned piano soloist Jonathan Biss, a Curtis alumnus and faculty member. All of these elements merging together beautifully — an in-demand conductor, a celebrated solo pianist, and a group of emerging virtuosos — creates an expression of something much greater.

The evening program will feature Beethoven’s Concerto no. 5 in E-flat major, op. 73 (“Emperor”); Symphony no. 2 in D major, op. 43, by Jean Sibelius; and “f(x) = sin²x–1/x” by Curtis alumna Gabriella Smith.

“It’s a complicated and difficult business, making a piece as old and as often-heard as the ‘Emperor’ concerto seem like a living, breathing thing, rather than an artifact,” pianist Biss recently wrote about the Beethoven piece. “But the process is not just worthwhile, it is exhilarating. Playing a great piece of music makes you feel alive in a way and to a degree that few of life’s experiences can come close to. The ‘Emperor’ may be over 200 years and thousands of performances old, but it is not only still alive: it is life-giving.”

An American composer whose music is described as “high-voltage and wildly imaginative” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Smith was inspired by composers’ fascination with numerological principles, geometric proportions, and higher math. For her piece “f(x) = sin²x–1/x,” Smith has mapped a composition according to an actual algebraic equation, but she has responded to it in a natural, intuitive manner. She uses unorthodox percussive sounds in tandem with tonal moments which stand out as striking arrivals.

The Washington Post calls Curtis, “Both a conservatory and a buzzword … known for taking the best music students in the world.” One of the most selective schools in the country, Curtis accepts 4 percent of applicants each year on average, and a tuition-free policy ensures that talent and artistic promise are the only considerations for admission.

Curtis Symphony Orchestra offers a dynamic showcase of tomorrow’s exceptional young talent. Each year the 100 extraordinary musicians of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra work with internationally renowned conductors. This professional training has enabled Curtis alumni to assume prominent positions in America’s leading orchestras, as well as esteemed orchestras around the world.

Curtis on Tour is the Nina von Maltzahn Global Touring Initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music.

Related events

Biss, pianist and Neubauer Family Chair in piano studies at the Curtis Institute of Music, will coach music students in Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts during a master class on Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Squires Recital Salon. Observation of the master class is free and open to the public, but registration is required.


Tickets for the performance are $25-55 for general public and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

While Virginia Tech students can always attend any Moss Arts Center performance for only $10, the center also offers free last-minute rush tickets for students who sign up for text notifications. To receive these notifications, text “arts” to 31996. Availability of rush tickets varies by performance and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last in the box office. Virginia Tech ID will be required for admission.


Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Kacy McAllister at 540-231-5300 or email during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to an event.

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