News & Reviews


CONTACT: Samuel Levy
Press Relations
(856) 691-9234 (home)
February 25, 2013


BRIDGETON, NJ -- Music full of exquisite lyricism, passion, and romanticism by Franz Schubert and Sergei Rachmaninoff, will make up the program for the Bay-Atlantic Symphony’s next concert series on March 23 and 24.

This concert series, one of the Symphony’s “Essential Concerts” for the season, will take place on Saturday, March 23, at 8 p.m., at the Frank Guaracini, Jr. Fine and Performing Arts Center, Cumberland County College, College Drive, Vineland, NJ; and Sunday, March 24, at 2 p.m., at the Richard Stockton College Performing Arts Center, Jimmie Leeds Road, Galloway Township, NJ.

Again for this season’s subscription concert series, a discounted ticket price of $25 will be for all seats in all venues, subsidized by a generous grant from the PNC Arts Alive grant program. PNC Arts Alive is a five-year, $5 million investment from The PNC Foundation that supports visual and performing arts groups with the goal of increasing arts access and engagement.

The concerts, conducted by Music Director Jed Gaylin, will feature Rachmaninoff’s ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 featuring renowned pianist Matthew Bengtson, a favorite among Delaware Valley audiences. Also included will be Schubert’s lyrical Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759, “Unfinished” and Charles Ives’ work of mystery and inquiry The Unanswered Question.

One of the most beloved piano concerti ever written, Rachmaninoff’s work is full of surging romanticism and pianistic virtuosity. Its beautiful melodies inspired such popular songs as Frank Sinatra’s hit Full Moon and Empty Arms in the 1940s and Eric Carmen’s All by Myself in the 1970s.

Schubert’s equally-popular Unfinished Symphony, brimming with melodies of lyricism and grace, is so well-proportioned that we forget that the composer left the work with only two movements completed.

Ives, an American original, composed works that exuded Americana. His The Unanswered Question is composed in his unique multi-layered style and is a musical search for the elusive answer to “the perennial question of existence.”

All Bay-Atlantic Symphony performances will be preceded one hour prior to starting time with a “Pre-Concert Conversation with the Maestro.”

Tickets may be ordered by calling the Guaracini Fine and Performing Arts Center box office at (856) 692-8499, or the Stockton College Performing Arts Center box office at (609) 652-9000.

For more information, please call the Bay-Atlantic Symphony at (856) 451-1169, visit the Symphony’s website at, or visit them on Facebook. Critically acclaimed as a “musician’s pianist,” Matthew Bengtson has talents ranging from extraordinary pianist, to composer, analyst, and scholar of performance practice, and is in demand as both soloist and collaborator. As a La Gesse Fellow, he has been presented in concerts in France, Italy, and Hungary to rave reviews, at Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello, and in solo recitals at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. He is a favorite soloist in the Pro Musica series in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He has performed with the Reading, Pottstown and Ridgefield Symphony Orchestras, and has appeared with violinist Joshua Bell on NPR’s “Performance Today” and XM Satellite Radio’s “Classical Confidential.”

An advocate of both contemporary and rarely performed music, he commands a diverse repertoire, ranging from William Byrd to Luciano Berio and György Ligeti. This includes a special interest in the music of the early 20th century, especially that of Alexander Scriabin and Karol Szymanowski. His doctoral research and first studio recording were devoted to Szymanowski’s 22 mazurkas. His interpretation of six Scriabin Sonatas can be heard on a recent highly-acclaimed release by Roméo Records.

Bengtson studied piano performance as a Harvard undergraduate with Patricia Zander. He also studied contemporary literature with Stephen Drury, and chamber music and performance practice with Robert Levin. He studied with Ann Schein at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, earning his MM and DMA degrees in piano performance, minoring in harpsichord with Webb Wiggins. He studied fortepiano with Malcolm Bilson on a fellowship at Cornell University. He continues to perform on all three instruments, as soloist and as collaborator, as in the Aurelio Ensemble. He is involved in an extensive recording project of early English instruments of the Charles West Wilson collection, for Griffin Renaissance Records.

He has participated in many American music festivals, such as the Aspen Music Festival, the Summer Institute for Contemporary Piano Performance (SICPP) at New England Conservatory, and the Classical Workshop and Baroque Performance Institute (BPI) at Oberlin Conservatory. In Europe, he studied at the Internationale Sommerakademie “Mozarteum” in Salzburg, Austria, and the Centre Acanthes in Avignon, with Claude Helffer and at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, France, with Philippe Entremont. In Salzburg, he performed Pierre Boulez’s Sonata No. 1 in the Wiener Saal, and at Fontainebleau, he was awarded the Prix de la Ville de Fontainebleau for his performances.

Also known as a thoughtful writer on music, he was awarded the 2003 Stefan and Wanda Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music for his paper The “Szymanowski Clash”: Methods of Harmonic Analysis in the Szymanowski Mazurkas. His comparative review of performances of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations is published in the New Beethoven Forum. His article on a competitive experience in Moscow was published in the Journal of the Scriabin Society of America.

Bengtson teaches privately at the University of Pennsylvania and at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, and is Vice-President of Tri-County Concerts Association. Besides his musical attainments, he was educated at Harvard University with a focus in mathematics and computer science. He reads Latin and Greek, is a 3-handicap golfer, a dan-level go player, and a chess FIDE master (FM).

Jed Gaylin, now in his 16th season as Music Director of the Bay-Atlantic Symphony, is Artist in Residence at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey--the latter position being part of an innovative model in which the Bay-Atlantic Symphony is integrated into the college’s musical curriculum. He is also the Principal Conductor of the Cape May Music Festival and Music Director of the Johns Hopkins Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore.

The Music Director of the Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra in Shepherstown, WV, Gaylin also serves as the Director of Orchestras at the International Music Festival and Summer Course of Cervera (Spain), and was a regular conductor at Opera Vivente in Baltimore. His numerous guest appearances include St. Petersburg State Symphony, National Film and Radio Philharmonic (Beijing, China), Shanghai Conservatory Orchestra, Bucharest Radio Orchestra, Academia del Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona, Spain) among many others.

Gaylin’s television and radio broadcasts included been National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition, Voice of America, Bucharest Radio Orchestra, and the National Radio and Film Philharmonic (Beijing), and locally on WWFM in New Jersey and WYPR in Baltimore.

He earned a Bachelor of Music in piano and a Master of Music in conducting at the Oberlin Conservatory, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory. He attended the Aspen Music Festival as a Conducting Fellow. Among other honors, he has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and the Presser Music Award. His conducting teachers have included Frederik Prausnitz, Leonard Slatkin, Jahja Ling, Murry Sidlin, Paul Vermel, and Michel Singher, and, for piano, Lydia Frumkin.

Now in its 29th season of providing classical music concerts, the Bay-Atlantic Symphony performs concerts and educational programs in Cumberland, Atlantic, Gloucester, and Cape May counties.

It is the resident orchestra of the Stockton College Performing Arts Center and the Guaracini Fine and Performing Arts Center at Cumberland County College, as well as being the orchestra-in-residence at the Cape May Music Festival since 2003. Avalon is the summer home of the Symphony, which is orchestra-in-residence of the resort’s “Symphony by the Sea” series. The Symphony has received worldwide exposure through its appearances on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and WWFM’s Celebrating our Musical Community.

In addition to being consistently praised for its astonishing level of artistry and precision, the Bay-Atlantic Symphony is also viewed throughout New Jersey as a model for how professional orchestras can become a vital focus and source of identity in their communities. As a sought-after creative partner throughout the region, the Bay-Atlantic Symphony has forged residencies with area colleges, numerous towns, music festivals such as Cape May, and casinos.

Among world-renowned soloists collaborating with the orchestra have been Hilary Hahn, Eugenia Zukerman, the Eroica Trio, Stefan Jackiw, Awagadin Pratt, Shai Wosner, Chee-Yun, and Adam Neiman.

The Symphony’s first commercial label recording, of She Comes to Shore--concerto for improvised piano and orchestra by the contemporary Hong Kong-born, Canadian-based composer and pianist Lee Pui Ming, was recorded August 2010 and is available on the Innova label, distributed by Naxos.

“The PNC Foundation has a long history of providing grants to non-profit organizations that strengthen and enrich the lives of our neighbors,” said Bill Mills, regional president of PNC for Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. “We understand the valuable return that investing in the arts can deliver. Today more than ever, the businesses we attract, the jobs we create and the visitors who extend their stay are drawn by what the Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey region has to offer.”

For this prestigious grant award, only 25 arts organizations in the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey region were selected in 2012 for bold thinking around increasing arts access and engagement and the Bay-Atlantic Symphony was one. For more information on PNC Arts Alive and the grant recipients, visit

These concerts are also made possible through funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

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